Karaoke video version of “Aklasan” song by KARATULA, based on the poem by labor leader and national artist Amado V. Hernandez. Video by Sipat with footage from the Hacienda Luisita strike of 2004.
In commemorating the 10th year anniversary of the start of the historic strike in Hacienda Luisita by farm and mill workers on November 6, 2004, the militant Anakpawis Partylist said in a statement that justice for the victims of the violent dispersal dubbed as “Hacienda Luisita massacre” that took place 10 days later is “impossible” under the administration of president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“Sa ilalim ni Aquino, kung saan may malaking impluwensya at kontrol ang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino sa mga ahensya at institusyon, makikitang imposibleng mabigyang hustisya ang mga biktima ng masaker sa kanyang termino,” [Under Aquino, where his family enjoys immense influence and control over gov’t agencies and institutions, it is apparent that justice would remain elusive under his term,] said Anakpawis Partylist Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap.
Anakpawis said that the Hacienda Luisita issue had its roots to the centuries-old feudal problem that consequently led to the impoverished state of the farm workers compelling them to wage the strike in 2004. In 1989, former president Corazon Aquino who promised to distribute the 6,453-hectare sugar lands to the farm workers had instead covered it under the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), particularly section 32 or its provision of stock distribution option (sdo). In more than a decade of being under the sdo scheme, farm worker beneficiaries (fwbs) suffered even worse socio-economic conditions that later pushed them to go on strike in 2004 to demand for land distribution.
“Nagsilbing instrumento ang CARP at sdo ng pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino upang sila ay kumita nang malaki habang nagtiis sa hirap at gutom ang mga manggagawang bukid tulad ng pag-uwi ng arawang sahod na P9.50,” [CARP and sdo served as instruments to benefit the Cojuangco-Aquino family while farm workers faced poverty and hunger as demonstrated by their daily take-home pay that amounted to P9.50,] said Hicap.
On November 10, 2004, then-labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gov’t issued an assumption of jurisdiction (aj) which practically served as “license” to violently disperse the picket line. Truckloads of government state forces were immediately deployed and on November 16, striking farm workers were fired upon resulting in the killing of 7, namely Jun David, Jhaivie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Jessie Valdez, Juancho Sanchez, Adriano Caballero Jr. and Jaime Pastidio, and the wounding of more than a hundred.
“Ang kutsabahang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino at Arroyo na gumamit ng aj ang nagbigay ng ‘go signal’ para pagbabarilin ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawang bukid, kaya malaki ang kanilang utang na dugo sa pamilya ng mga biktima at hanggang ngayon ay walang hustisyang naigagawad,” [The collusion between the Cojuangco-Aquino family and Arroyo which utilized the aj, gave the “go signal” for the gov’t forces to open fire at the striking farm workers, thus, they have a huge blood debt to the families of the victims and until now justice is yet to be served,] Hicap said.
The farm workers filed criminal charges against then-congressman Aquino and his relatives which were dismissed by the Ombudsman on July 2005.
“Habang busy ang mga alyado ni Aquino sa hacienda Binay, magsasampung taon na ang kawalang hustisya sa kanya mismong hasyenda, wala na tayong maaasahan sa ganitong gubyerno, kaya, ang hustisya ay posible lamang kapag tapos na ang kanyang pagkapangulo,” [While the Aquino’s allies are busy dealing with hacienda Binay, injustice within his own hacienda is nearing a decade-old, we have nothing to hope for this kind of gov’t, hence, justice is only possible when Aquino’s presidency is over,] Hicap said. ###
Statement by Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), November 6, 2014
Marking the 10th year of the start of the historic strike in Hacienda Luisita, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the Cojuangco-Aquino clan for continuing to deny land and justice to the farm workers, saying the clan is behind one of the biggest land scams in recent Philippine history.
The labor group said the strike, which fought for higher wages and condemned the non-implementation of land reform in the 6,453-hectare estate, was met with violence –with a massacre on November 16 which killed seven people and the succeeding extra-judicial killings and harassment of land reform advocates.
“Today we mark the 10th anniversary of the just and historic strike at Hacienda Luisita. We continue to rail against the Cojuangco-Aquino clan for the low wages, denial of land reform, and brutal suppression of the peasants of Luisita and their supporters,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader recalled that Pres. Noynoy Aquino, who was a congressman when the massacre occurred, defended the massacre at the floor of the House of Representatives against criticisms made by labor leader Crispin Beltran, who was representative of Anakpawis Partylist at the time.
He also recalled that Aquino promised to distribute Luisita’s lands to farmers during the campaign for the 2010 presidential elections, but immediately unseated former Chief Justice Renato Corona for leading the Supreme Court in ruling that the hacienda’s lands be distributed to farm workers.
“Noynoy Aquino has played a leading role in the continuing denial of land and justice to the farm workers of Luisita. He has led his family in perpetuating one of the biggest land scams in recent Philippine history and has consistently been anti-farmer and anti-poor,” Labog added.
KMU vowed to join the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, and the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita in holding protests to mark the 10th anniversary of the Luisita farm workers’ strike and the Hacienda Luisita massacre.
“We will continue to fight for genuine land reform and the abolition of all haciendas in the country, especially of Hacienda Luisita. The violence being inflicted on the Luisita farm workers and the deception being foisted on the public only add to the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ crimes against farmers and all Filipinos,” Labog stated.
Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
“The case of Hacienda Luisita reflects the hypocrisy of the Aquino government—all these talks about land reform, ‘kayo ang boss ko’ and righteous path. If there’s one thing that succinctly describes the government’s double talk, it’s Hacienda Luisita,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
A decade ago today, November 6, farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita launched a strike against the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita, Inc. Some 5,000 farmworkers, all members of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) were joined by about 700 sugar mill workers under the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU).
“The struggle of the peasants and workers of Hacienda Luisita deserves public attention because it embodies how generations of landlord-bureaucrats used law and terror to further exploit and oppress the farmworkers and to keep the almost 6,500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita all to themselves,” said Palabay.
The farmworkers’ strike was a culmination of a series of actions they took to address the joblessness and other ploys the Cojuangco-Aquinos used to keep the hacienda workers’ wages low. “Today, we also remember the Php 9.50 a day wage that the farmworkers were getting from the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Some were even getting Php 9.50 a week,” added Palabay.
The strike ended in what is now known as the Hacienda Luisita massacre, which led to the death of seven people, 121 seriously injured and hundreds of farmworkers arrested. Since then, terror inside the Hacienda has not stopped.
A documentation made by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the Yellow Army, maintained by the Conjuanco-Aquinos in the 1980s, was replaced by the Luisita Estate Management after the massacre. The LEM tapped the military to sow terror in the Hacienda.
When BS Aquino assumed presidency, AFP troops were deployed in the Hacienda, aside from the presence of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). There are military detachments of the 701st IBPA in 10 villages of Hacienda Luisita.
“The state forces are involved in harassment, mauling, and arrests of farmworkers, burning of farm houses, destruction of fields planted with vegetables and other crops, indiscriminate firing, aside from the continuing legal maneuvers to evade Supreme Court’s decision to distribute the lands to the farmers. BS Aquino should be held accountable for all these violations,” said Palabay.