Luisita is the face of every known form of human rights violation in the country

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statementDecades of oppression and exploitation. Ten years of patent injustice for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre.

Under the current BS Aquino regime, the Luisita massacre case was denied due process twice. All the perpetrators were cleared of charges in 2010 and the victims’ plea to reopen investigation was denied this year. Meanwhile, grave human rights violations against farmworkers continue.

Thousands of farmers have now been displaced and deprived of livelihood due to the Aquino regime’s implementation of fake land distribution. This chaotic and bogus land reform scheme complemented the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan’s design of deception and violent land grabbing against its so-called “farmworker-beneficiaries.” Hacienda Luisita is still under the control of landlords thanks in part to the predatory maneuvers of the yellow financier-agents of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. More than a thousand hectares of agricultural land are now being secured by gun-toting goons and endless rows of concrete and barbed wire fences while the actual tillers have already been evicted. From 2013 to 2014, several incidents of violence perpetrated by private security personnel and goons, with the active assistance of the police and the military, and with the complicity of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), have resulted in the bulldozing of crops, burning of huts, mauling, illegal arrest and detention of farmers, frustrated killings, and the murder of another Luisita activist.

Luisita is the face of every known form of human rights violation in the country.

Luisita over the years has been about horrific stories of massacre, extra-judicial killing, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual abuse, violence against women and children, violation of domicile, forced eviction, threat, harassment, intimidation, unlawful arrest and detention. Periodic reports from human rights group Karapatan are riddled with cases from Hacienda Luisita, consistently filling up practically every violation category in its numerous tables and factsheets.

These grave atrocities are being committed to quell decades-old agrarian unrest in this dispute-ridden sugar estate. Human rights violations are happening in Hacienda Luisita as we speak. Each of the ten Luisita barangays are still terrorized with military detachments and the constant presence of armed state security forces in public spaces such as schools, barangay halls and basketball courts.

Especially for the victims and their kin, Luisita’s fate has been that of impunity. Luisita farmers and leaders of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) still face various criminal charges fabricated by police and the Cojuangco-Aquino family before local courts in Tarlac – while the hundreds of complaints filed by farmers against perpetrators of current rights violations are gathering dust, deliberately ignored by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Farmers have also exposed the current BS Aquino regime to have committed plunder and bribery through the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) only for the President’s kin to maintain control of Hacienda Luisita.

Despite all odds posed by the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan and the corrupt BS Aquino regime, Luisita farmers continue to cry for justice and sow seeds of change. Luisita is also the face of defiance.

Today, International Human Rights Day, we pay tribute to Luisita’s martyrs and vow to keep the flames of their just struggle burning. Luisita Watch will continue to work tirelessly with its broad network of agrarian reform and human rights advocates – students, educators and the academe, church leaders and the religious sector, artists, cultural workers, professionals and various international groups – to echo the farmers’ demand for genuine land reform and social justice.

End Impunity! Land and justice for Hacienda Luisita farmers now!

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