AMBALA-UMA NEWS RELEASE: April 24, 2014
Hundreds of angry farmers from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province stormed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) main office in Quezon City today to protest what they called “hoax land distribution” and the escalating state violence against supposed farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) in the dispute-ridden sugar estate.
The Supreme Court (SC) ruled to distribute Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers in a landmark decision released exactly two years ago today. Farmers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) lamented that the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is unlawfully wielding its clout to evict and disenfanchise farmers, and ultimately retain control of Hacienda Luisita.
“Our situation is worse than ever under another hacendero president,” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA chairperson. “The first Cojuangco-Aquino president gave us the bogus CARP and the oppressive SDO. This latest hacendero scion has no qualms dumping thugs, state forces and bulldozers in Luisita, brazenly transforming our ricefields and agricultural areas into walled garrisons. Luisita is under a reign of terror and impunity.”
AMBALA is the main petitioner favored by the 2012 SC decision on Luisita, but the DAR has consistently disregarded AMBALA’s for pleas for free land distribution, collective ownership and recognition of their breaktrough bungkalan (tillage) campaign.
Escalating agrarian unrest in Hacienda Luisita, marked by a recent series of violent attacks against supposed farmworker-beneficiaries, has attracted the attention of international media groups, including Qatar-based English language news and current affairs channel Al Jazeera and the Asian Catholic news source UCAN News of Hong Kong.
In its April 12 report, Al Jazeera left a scathing commentary on the Aquino administration: “Justice is just too slow. No matter the promises, the struggle against the landowners represent the darker side of President Aquino’s legacy.”
“Our rage against this cruel, heartless hacendero administration harks back to decades of oppression our ancestors endured under the Cojuangco-Aquinos. After the SC decision, we did not miss any opportunity to bring our proposals and grievances before all the proper government agencies such as the DAR, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court. But did we get any answers?”
“Aquino’s ‘daang matuwid’ rhetoric is an empty slogan to cover up his family’s crimes against farmworkers and the people. This hoax land distribution cost the Filipino people at least Php 471.5 million in public funds. Still, land and justice remains elusive to us Luisita farmers.”
“It is but just to call for Aquino’s ouster. The public is very much aware that his criminal negligence, incompetence, blind subservience to imperialist dictates and self-serving actuations have brought boundless suffering not just to us peasants, but also to Typhoon Yolanda survivors in the Eastern Visayas, the urban poor communities, wage earners and and ordinary professionals.”
Pushed to the wall, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers can only pin their hopes on the movement to oust President Aquino.#
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