Agricultural Workers Laud Junking of Trumped-up Charge on Sagip Kanayunan Tulong Anakpawis 7

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The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today lauded the decision of the Municipal Trial Court of Norzagaray, Bulacan to drop outright the trumped up charge of violation of RA11332 against former Anakpawis Party list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao and 6 members of the Sagip Kanayunan Tulong Anakpawis.

They were arrested by the police on April 19, 2020 while on their way to a relief mission in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Ariel “Ayik” Casilao who is also the vice-chairperson of UMA, on the other hand, was arrested the next day while trying to negotiate the release of the 6.

The judge dismissed the charge of violation of Section 9 of RA11332 or for” Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern” because the judge ruled that this is not an offense of said law.

There is still 1 pending trumped up charge against the 6 and 1 separate pending case against Ayik. This is inciting to sedition and usurpation of authority respectively. The MTC judge will issue a resolution within 10 days on both cases and a separate one on the jeep used during the relief mission that was impounded by the police.

We hope that the MTC judge will dismiss the two other charges and release the jeep for utter lack of probable cause.

The arrests were made to cover up for the government’s lackluster performance in not providing enough relief and financial aid to the people and for not controlling the spread of the Covid-19 effectively.

Agriworkers Condemn Crackdown on Peasants and Sugar Workers During Lockdown in Barangay Coral ni Lopez, Calaca, Batangas

MAY 10 ILLUSTRATIONThe Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) strongly condemns the illegal search and arrest of 6 members and leaders of Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Coral ni Lopez (SAMACOLO) as part of the Duterte regime’s growing crackdown against dissenters.

Hopefully, this is not a prelude to Martial Law which the President recently threatened to declare and comes a few days after ABS-CBN was forced to cease operations at his behest. The last time the media network was closed was 48 years ago when Marcos declared Martial Law in the country.

Elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Philippine Army in 17 vehicles including 2 military trucks swarmed the said barangay at 12:00 midnight of May 10, 2020.

Armed with search warrants, they raided and forcibly entered Gestapo style, 7 houses and illegally arrested 6 peasant members and leaders of SAMACOLO namely Vergilio Vidal, his brother Marcelo Vidal, July Julongbayan, Leovino Julongbayan, Doroteo Bautista and Roilan Tenorio. The raiders also planted guns, ammunition, and explosives on the residences of those arrested. They are have been brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.

They feared that after this incident today, residents from the said barangay or from other nearby villages may suffer the same fate. A reliable source also stated that other local leaders’ residences will be raided in the the coming days.

Locals suspect that the long-standing land dispute between Coral ni Lopez’s residents and the Lopez clan remains a triggering factor to these recurring fascist attacks in the village. On April 16, 2020 Lamberto Asinas was also illegally arrested in Barangay Bunducan, Nasugbu Batangas.

SAMACOLO has been fighting for the residents’ right to own the land they till since the 80’s and this struggle that’s been on for decades deeply angered the land lords. There is a pending threat of cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) since 2007. The said village was also heavily militarized in 2018 in the guise of the Duterte regime’s anti-insurgency operations.

The aforementioned local peasant organization also facilitated the distribution of much-needed cash assistance from the DOLE-BWSC among field sugar workers yesterday, May 9, 2020. The whole municipality of Calaca has been on lockdown since March 19, 2020. Since then, sugar workers and other residents have been greatly suffering financially and instead of adequate government aid, they are now being subjected to another militarist crackdown.

“This is one of the vicious moves of the fascist regime to further frighten the peasantry especially those who stand up for their rights to the land”, Antonio ‘Ka Tonying’ Flores stated. The Duterte regime is clearly taking advantage of this pandemic to harass, incarcerate and in worse cases brutally kill its critics.

“The Duterte regime must set its priorities straight on facing this pandemic. This government must attend to the immediate needs of the people for food, medical attention, free mass testing and other socio-economic services,” Ka Tonying added.

UMA and our local leaders from Batangas call upon the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct an impartial investigation of the said arrests which is comparable to what happened in Negros Oriental on March 2019.

We must be vigilant at all times. We will not be silenced by these attacks and instead will remain steadfast in fighting for land, just wages and social justice.

Hacienda Luisita Farmworkers Shocked and Revolted on SC Ruling on Audit Report

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) were shocked and revolted at the Supreme Court ruling which upheld the auditor’s report that the 6,296 farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) will not get a single centavo from their share of P1.33 billion for the sale of 580.51 hectares (has.) by the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

Renato Mendoza, secretary general of AMBALA, stated that this decision will surely get the ire of the FWBs especially that their preferred accounting firm, Ocampo Mendoza Leung and Lim (OMLL), was later removed by the SC supposedly for lack of interest. This is despite the fact that OMLL attended three meetings called by DAR from July –September, 2016 with the Audit panel created by the SC.

In effect, Mendoza added, the Audit Panel composed by the SC is lopsided as it is composed of two audit firms selected by HLI, namely Reyes Tacandong & Co. and Navarro Amper & Co. (Deloitte). Carisa May Pay Penson, the lone individual accountant chosen by the SC is a former employee of the KPMG firm which AMBALA had previously sought to disqualify for having had business ties with the Cojuangcos.

On the other hand, the thousands of FWBs were deprived of their right to be represented by their chosen audit firm.

The SC ruling of April 24, 2012 ordered the total land distribution of Luisita’s agricultural lands, the revocation of the SDO, and the audit of HLI and CHI “to determine if the P1,330,511,500 (Php 1.33 billion) proceeds of sale of three (3) lots were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes.

Any unspent or unused balance and any disallowed expenditures as determined by the audit shall be distributed to the 6,296 original FWBs,”

But more than that, according to Mendoza, the SC decision lacks any sense of social justice given that one of the main reasons why it junked the SDO’s is that the FWBs would never have a chance to be majority shareholders in HLI. So why would the SC penalize them for not receiving a single centavo by a decision by the majority stockholders like the Cojuangcos and Aquinos in selling 580.51 has. of land for P5 billion?

There was also no explanation made by the SC when it said “that the legitimate corporate expenses of HLI for the years 1998 up to 2011, coupled with the taxes and expenses related to the sale of the 3% share already distributed to the FWBs, far exceeded the proceeds of the sale of the adverted 580.51-hectare lot. Thus, it said there is no more unused proceeds that should be given out to the FWBs.”

Mendoza stated that HLI is one of only several companies of the Cojuangco-Aquino families and it could have conveniently rechanneled the P1.33 billion share of the FWBs to said companies.

These include the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), CAT Resource and Assets Holdings, Inc (CRAHI), Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) which is now Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) and Agrikulto Inc.

Fifty one percent of CAT was sold by the Cojuangcos-Aquinos to Martin Lorenzo. CAT also owns LLC and Agrikulto Inc. CAT’s sale in 2014 is seen as a push to further evade land distribution and scrutiny of the Aquino-Cojuangcos’ sullied assets.

The SC could have stated that these related companies should pay the FWBs what is rightfully theirs.

Other than that, Mendoza added that the SC now is controlled by President Duterte and the decision of the former only shows that the present regime is not sincere in genuine agrarian reform. The President even got rid of former DAR Secretary and KMP chairman emeritus Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, who is sincere in such a reform.

Among those that opposed his nomination as DAR secretary were the minions of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos in Hacienda Luisita. Others include officials of Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC), which is owned by Martin Lorenzo’s family. Sara Duterte’s husband, Manases Carpio is one of LFC’s legal counsel and the President’s daughter also opposed Ka Paeng’s nomination.

Ka Paeng revoked an Aug. 14, 1996, DAR order to classify at least 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita as an industrial area which would exempt these from land reform and ordered 384 hectares of these to be distributed to the FWBs.

Up to now, this has not yet been implemented. The Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo feared that Ka Paeng would also put under CARP 330 hectares of CAT’s property which it claims is not used for business and operations.

Recently, however, CAT sold 338 hectares of its lands to Ayala Land to transform it intoits regional Ayala Center.

Mendoza added that there is no other choice then but to rally the FWBs against this unjust decision of the SC and the continued control of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos and even the Lorenzos of the lands in the Hacienda.

He concluded by saying that this is another blow to the credibility of the SC which is now controlled by President Duterte and predicted that many peasants and other democratic classes in Philippine society would defy it if it continues to issue unjust decisions against the people.


Agricultural Workers Condemn Terrorist Listing of its Officer and Members

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) condemn the terrorist listing by the Duterte regime on 600 persons including five members of Kaisahan-Batangas, among which is an officer of the NFSW. Kaisahan is a member of UMA.

Their inclusion in the list is reprehensible, considering that the local prosecutor had earlier dropped the case filed against them for lack of evidence.

These 5 are part of the so-called Nasugbu 10, a quick reaction team (QRT) to investigate human rights violations in Utod village, Nasugbu, Batangas as a result of an earlier encounter between the military and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

They never made it to Utod, as nine of them were arrested on Nov. 20, by the Philippine National Police and soldiers of the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) who branded them as NPA members.

The members of Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawang-bukid sa Batangas (Kaisahan) are Marilyn Hernandez, Carlos Sanosa, Joey Castillano, Roberto Hernandez, and Leonardo delos Reyes Jr. Four others are members of HABAGAT, and one their driver. Marilyn is also the treasurer of NFSW.

This terrorist listing is a desperate attempt by the Duterte regime to crack down on its critics, including that of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the latter through impeachment.

According to John “Butch” Milton Lozande, secretary general both of UMA and NFSW they are not intimidated by this terror listing of the Duterte government.

He added “NFSW was not cowed when martial law was declared a year after its formation in 1971. We only had members in Negros Island then. Today we are once again national in nature with the rest of the Filipino people who are resolute in resisting further oppression and state repression.”



Oligarchs and Multinationals to Benefit from Martial Law in Mindanao

Business as usual, that is the reaction today of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as only oligarchs and multinationals will benefit from this.

This was ensured by one of the most rightist and pro-neoliberal member of President Duterte’s cabinet, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He was one of those who persuaded the chief executive to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, even if fighting on the so-called Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups were only confined in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

UMA is also one with the people of Marawi City in condemning on the violence inflicted on them by these groups, but at the same time in using this as an excuse to declare martial law.

According to Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of UMA, it is calling on its members nationwide to oppose martial law in Mindanao and its possible extension to the whole country. He added that martial law will only further suppress the labor, land and human rights of agricultural workers and of the Filipino people.

Such is the case of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI). They were installed by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano back to their lands grabbed by Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) on May 18 this year on the orders of President Duterte himself.

Recent reports though indicate that LFC guards are harassing MARBAI members and their supporters. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao might embolden said oligarch owned company to once again forcibly eject them from their lands.

Another is the continued harassment and death threats made on May 23 by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army on striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Corp in Compostela Valley.

The company is a Korean owned banana plantation and 80 of its workers staged a strike on March 16 for being dismissed by the company because of labor only contracting. Its members are affiliated with Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU.

All organizers and members of agricultural workers in Mindanao are at risk of being attacked by state security forces as Defense Chief Lorenzana branded the place as a haven of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

Agricultural workers should emulate the example of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which was organized in 1971 or a year before the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. NFSW in coordination with UMA will hold a Congress this coming May 30-31 in Bacolod City to re-establish itself as a national federation.

Even when Marcos declared martial law, NFSW continued to successfully organize sugar workers in the fields and mills across the island even with arrests made on their ranks. A number of them also joined the armed resistance against the dictatorship.

Because of the intense exploitation and oppression against the sugar workers, NFSW was able to expand up to the 80’s and it was even a founding member of the KMU. It also contributed immensely to the ouster of Marcos from power in 1986 despite suffering deaths during the Escalante massacre a year before that.

Agricultural workers already have their own organizations in Mindanao and have been steeled in struggle as their collective actions like in the rest of the country have been met by fascist attacks. They should be ready to face further attacks because of the declaration of martial law and engage in all forms of struggle necessary.

They have the support of the Filipino peasantry, workers and people in defending their labor, land and human rights and in shouting never again to martial law. President Duterte should lift martial law because even if it is very harsh, the people would definitely struggle and win against it.18698676_1385240054892079_833020321_o.jpg

More sacadas escape from Hacienda Luisita

More sacadas recruited from Mindanao – including women with infant children – recently escaped from slave-like conditions in Hacienda Luisita. According to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), a total of 18 individuals have sought the assistance of government agencies for them to be able to return to Mindanao. “This issue should no […]

via More sacadas escape from Hacienda Luisita — UMA Pilipinas

After “sakada” issue, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers’ huts demolished

Huts or kubol used as headquarters of the local farmworkers’ organization Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita were reportedly demolished around noon today. Monggo crops were also reportedly destroyed. The huts are located within AMBALA’s bungkalan or land cultivation area in Barangay Mapalacsiao, the same village where […]

via After “sakada” issue, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers’ huts demolished — UMA Pilipinas

DOLE dared to punish recruiters, employers of Hacienda Luisita sakada

A total of 36 sakadas from Bukidnon filed labor complaints against their recruiters and employers Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative, Agrikulto Inc. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) at the National Labor Relations Office – Regional Arbitration Board (NLRC-RAB III) in San Fernando City last week, following their “rescue” from slave-like working conditions in […]

via DOLE dared to punish recruiters, employers of Hacienda Luisita sakada — UMA Pilipinas

Mindanao Sakadas Still Get P 9.50 a Day in Hacienda Luisita 

We’ve heard this story before: the farmworkers who cut and haul cane in this controversial sugar estate earn only P9.50 a day as ‘stockholders’ of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. The thousands who have had enough of this oppression decided to strike. This happened more than 12 years ago. Fastforward to 2017. Mario Bagnaran, 58, a farmworker […]

via Mindanao Sakadas Still Get P 9.50 a Day in Hacienda Luisita  — UMA Pilipinas

Sakadas from Mindanao Exploited in Hacienda Luisita

Hundreds of sakadas or migratory sugar workers recruited from Mindanao have become victims of a giant human trafficking scam when they were brought to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac to work during the kabyaw or annual sugar harvest and milling season which started in November 2016. Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of the national […]

via Sakadas from Mindanao Exploited in Hacienda Luisita   — UMA Pilipinas