Sumilao farmers back Noynoy’s candidacy
JOHANNA CAMILLE SISANTE
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—While some farmers from Hacienda Luisita are criticizing Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for his family’s non-distribution of the plantation’s land, another group of farmers pushing for agrarian reform is backing up his presidential candidacy.
Farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon were present at Aquino’s campaign rally in Cagayan de Oro Tuesday, where some of them even lit torches for the Liberal Party standard bearer.
The Sumilao farmers gained nationwide attention in late 2007 when they marched all the way from Bukidnon in Mindanao to Manila to push for their claim to their land. (See: Sumilao farmers return to a tearful reunion in hometown)
They also held hunger strikes for their land in 1997, and last year to push for the passage of the measure extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act (CARP) until 2014.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Sumilao farmers said they are supporting the candidacies of Aquino and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, who is running under the LP’s senatorial slate. Baraquel is one of the main proponents of the CARP extension with reforms (CARPER) law. (See: Arroyo signs CARP extension bill into law)
The Sumilao farmers said they are backing up Aquino despite the Hacienda Luisita controversy hounding him and the Cojuangcos.
“The Sumilao farmers are confident that the former will help put a close to this matter through a just and legal resolution, in consultation with the Luisita farmers-stakeholders themselves,” the statement read.
“The Sumilao farmers note that among the presidential candidates, only Senator Aquino has expressly pronounced that he will be seeing CARP to its completion,” it said.
Aquino had earlier vowed to ensure the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land by 2014 after all its debts were settled. Luisita spokesman Antonio Ligon said Aquino’s wishes regarding the fate of Luisita will be followed if he is elected. (See: If elected, Noynoy’s wishes will be followed, says Luisita spokesman) —Johanna Camille Sisante/JV, GMANews.TV