President BS Aquino’s call for support to defend his unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has further enraged disgruntled farm workers in his own backyard, the controversial Hacienda Luisita sugar estate controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.
Florida Sibayan, chairperson of farmworkers alliance AMBALA, said that BS Aquino’s appeal to the public to wear yellow ribbons was pathetic, desperate and insensitive, especially after the recent admission of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that DAP funds were indeed used to compensate the Cojuangco-Aquino family for government acquisition of Hacienda Luisita.
Luisita farmers displayed bloodied yellow ribbons in homes and farmhuts in protest against the “Pork Barrel King.” Sibayan, who is also a survivor of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre, said that BS Aquino is likewise responsible for the carnage that claimed the lives of at least seven (7) farmworkers.
“Let these blood-stained yellow ribbons remind the public that land and justice remain elusive to the thousands of farmworkers here in Hacienda Luisita, and to the millions of peasants all over the country oppressed by this despotic landlord President and Pork Barrel King,” said Sibayan.
Aside from culling hefty landlord compensation from the DAP, BS Aquino has cunningly siphoned public funds to bribe legislators with more pork. The President actively campaigned for Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment and conviction in retribution for the SC’s 2012 Hacienda Luisita ruling which favored the farm workers.
AMBALA has consistently exposed the DAR’s land distribution activities in Luisita as a “monumental sham.” Landlord compensation granted to the Cojuangco-Aquino family from the DAP funds was overpriced by at least Php 167 million based on the Supreme Court ‘s (SC) order to peg the estate’s valuation at its 1989 price.
“The Cojuangcos were paid a hefty Php 471.5 M from the DAP, but genuine land distribution in Hacienda Luisita has never occurred. DAR committed grave abuse of discretion in imposing one swindle after another to discredit and disenfranchise supposed farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) in Hacienda Luisita,” said Sibayan.
Sibayan is referring to the DAR’s imposition of a requisite promissory note, the Application to Purchase an Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU), which government made farm workers to sign practically at gunpoint; the chaotic and anomalous lot allocation via tambiolo raffle draws; and the distribution of photocopies of the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) for farmlots in unidentified locations – all of which the DAR accomplished during highly-militarized events in all ten villages of Hacienda Luisita in 2013.
“The DAR only accomplished the distribution of land reform documents like the APFU and CLOA – papel lang at hindi lupa – papers which DAR personnel and Cojuangco-Aquino agents collect as collateral for illicit transactions such as the aryendo (lease) and sale of farmlots,” said Sibayan
“The whole sham land distribution scheme in Hacienda Luisita – designed to quickly reconcentrate awarded farmlots back to Cojuangco-Aquino control – is what these DAP funds actually ‘stimulated’” said Ranmil Echanis, deputy secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
AMBALA further notes that millions of pesos more in public funds are STILL being used by the Aquino administration just so the Presidential family can retain control of the sugar estate. Aside from the DAP, a new disbursement mechanism by the Aquino-Abad tandem is now believed to be actively used to fund the Cojuangco-Aquino’s illicit sugarcane aryendo victimizing thousands of Luisita beneficiaries in the guise of “land reform support services” such as block-farming. Sibayan said that loyal Cojuangco agents such as Arsenio Valentino, a former supervisor of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc (HLI) now head the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries organizations (ARBO) and can easily access these “support service funds.”
Tarlac police, DAR personnel and equipment are also actively employed in the destruction of close to 50 hectares of productive palay and organic food crop farms of AMBALA and its members to make way for the Cojuangco-Aquino sugarcane aryendo. AMBALA reports that the violent incidents occurred June 25, July 3, and 8 in Barangay Mapalacsiao and June 23 and July 15 in Barangay Asturias even while typhoon Glenda pummeled parts of Central Luzon.
AMBALA and UMA support the impeachment complaint to be filed by Bayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and other complainants against President Aquino tomorrow, and will join the people’s protests during Aquino’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28.