Hacienda Luisita farmers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) trooped today to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Supreme Court (SC) in Manila without their chairperson, Florida Sibayan.
Sibayan and another Luista farmer, Julius Loveland are detained at the Tarlac City Jail since yesterday afternoon while trying to process bail for charges of THREAT filed by a Cojuangco security guard. The court ruled that they failed to complete the bail process on time.
Sibayan, through the AMBALA delegation forwarded a letter to Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima which read: “Police, armed men and other agents of the Cojuangco-Aquino family who are responsible for the destruction of our crops, homes and livelihood run free despite our formal complaints before several government agencies including your good office. We farmers, however, who have not committed any wrong were quickly imprisoned.”
The letter is Sibayan’s second follow-up on the DOJ’s promise to form a special panel for Luisita cases. Dozens of farmers and supporters personally appeared before DOJ Usec Francisco Baraan III and State Prosecutor Rodan Parrocha January 16 this year, to file affidavit-complaints regarding the string of violent incidents of harassment, arrest and bulldozing of farmers’ crops in Hacienda Luisita since September 2013.
The office of Chief Prosecutor Claro A. Arellano told AMBALA that he had already forwarded a recommendation to Sec. de Lima, but no official word has come out from the Secretary’s office on the farmers’ urgent complaints.
Twelve more affidavit-complaints were prepared by AMBALA’s counsel Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) regarding a “bulldozing spree” by Cojuangco armed men last February 8, birthday of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
According to the affidavits, the twelve farmer families lost an estimated Php 2,111,000.00 during the Cojuangco thugs’ violent streak which bulldozed palay and vegetable crops ready for harvest this March, razed homes and destroyed personal belongings and farm implements. Farmers also reported theft of farm animals and harvest.
“The reported losses are only for the February incidents. Cojuangco-Aquino guards have been destroying farmers’ homes and livelihood in Barangay Balete since after Typhoon Santi hit Central Luzon in October,” said Christopher Garcia, AMBALA spokesperson.
“President Aquino deserves the moniker ‘Disaster King’ because his own family can wreak havoc on peoples’ livelihood stronger than any natural calamity,” said Garcia.
Bulldozing and fencing off of agricultural lands continue in Hacienda Luisita as the Presidential family’s sugar mill, Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) has commenced the clearing of hundreds of hectares in barangay Mapalacsiao, affecting 50 farmer families in Sitio Maligaya. Presidential sister Kris Aquino is a board member of CAT.
“Sobra-sobra na ang utang ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino, hindi lang sa mga magbubukid ng Hacienda Luisita, kundi sa buong sambayanang Pilipino,” Garcia said.