Hacienda Luisita farmers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) mourn the passing last January 10 of Father Gregorio Obejas, OSM of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR). We feel profound grief with this untimely loss. Fr. Greg was one of the staunchest advocates for land and justice in Hacienda Luisita – he was a fearless activist against inequality and oppression.
Fr. Gregorio Obejas was Parish Priest of the St. Joseph the Worker parish at the time of his passing. He was one of the convenors of the Luisita Peasants and People’s Alliance (LUPPA), a broad network of advocates from the church, academe, and other sectoral groups established in 2010 to compel the Aquino administration and the Supreme Court to act on the Hacienda Luisita land case.
Fr. Greg gave his full support to the Luisita farmers’ bungkalan or land cultivation campaign. He gave spiritual guidance to toiling farmworkers who sought to uplift their lives and livelihood by making the land productive with palay, vegetables and crops other than sugarcane. He was one with farmworkers in tilling the soil when they occupied idle lands in Barangay Balete in 2011. As a defender of human rights, Fr. Greg denounced subsequent violent attacks, threats and intimidating military presence against the tillers. He consistently fought for justice for victims of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre and other killings and rights violations in Luisita.
With the recent spate of violent incidents related to the implementation of sham land reform in Luisita – bulldozing of crops, burning of homes, eviction, assault, and illegal arrest of farmers – Fr. Greg continued to work closely with AMBALA and UMA and became active with the Luisita Watch network since its launching in February last year. Luisita Watch was created to keep the public informed of the real situation in Hacienda Luisita. Fr. Greg Obejas was also concelebrant with Bishop Deogracias Iniguez in the commemorative mass in Quiapo Church to mark the 10th year of the Hacienda Luisita massacre (#HLMX) last November.
We pay tribute to Fr. Greg as we cherish his contributions to the cause of social justice and peace. His courage and selflessness will continue to serve as an inspiration in our continuing fight for land and justice.
-Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
January 12, 2015