Hacienda Luisita farmers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and the national federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) held an ecumenical service and symbolic mass action today at Hacienda Luisita, to stop the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, an OFW in Indonesian death row.
The farmers, who have been calling for President Aquino’s resignation over sham land distribution and impunity in Hacienda Luisita, minced no words and declared that the Filipino people including the thousands of disgruntled Luisita peasants will definitely unleash its wrath on Aquino if the worst happens to Veloso.
“Nakikiisa kami sa panawagang iligtas si Mary Jane dahil alam namin ang hirap na pinagdaanan ng kanyang pamilya (We stand in solidarity with the call to save Mary Jane because we share the hardships that her family went through),” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA chairperson.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso is a sakada’s daughter. Her father, Cesar, was born and raised in La Paz, Tarlac and worked up to the 1980’s as a seasonal sugarcane cutter or sakada. Cesar’s father Emeterio, also worked for Hacienda Luisita. The Luisita estate still employs sakadas during milling or kabyaw season. These almost “invisible” seasonal workers receive slave wages for toiling in the most subhuman working conditions. Veloso’s father Cesar endured heavy toil as cane cutter, he even experienced urinating blood.
Pastor Gabriel Sanchez of the UCCP led the ecumenical service for Mary Jane Veloso held at AMBALA’s farm hut in Barangay Balete. Farmers placed white ribbons around the area to symbolize their support for Mary Jane. Sanchez is the father of Juancho, one of the farm workers killed in the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre.
The plight of the Veloso family is experienced by millions of other peasant families denied opportunities to cultivate and make full use of the land they till. Seasonal workers in Luisita are entirely left out of land distribution, while the regular farmworkers still cannot be called lucky “beneficiaries” as the now face landgrabbing, harassment, eviction, and all sorts of deceptive and violent attacks from the Presidential family and state forces.
“The government’s bogus and fascist agrarian reform program complemented by its labor-export policy fester on the desperation and destitution of our peasants. CARP and labor-export are like death sentences to our own people,” said Aurelio Estrada, UMA media officer.
The groups also condemned the Aquino government for its criminal neglect in handling Veloso’s case. “Aquino if at all acted haphazardly and belatedly, only more than a year after Veloso was sentenced to death,” Estrada said. The Aquino government has not yet even raised the stakes with the Indonesian government to include the cutting of diplomatic ties as an option to save the life of Mary Jane.
“Aquino’s lies and repeated denial has only earned the ire of the public. The world knows of Aquino’s deadly blunders – the Luneta stand-off, Yolanda, Mamasapano. Survivors of the Hacienda Luisita massacre know for a fact that the President’s hands are bloodied,” Sibayan added.
Sibayan also said that Aquino and his inept presidency deserve every moment of its miserable collapse once the Filipino people unleashes its wrath. “Si Aquino na mismo ang nagtitiyak ng sarili niyang pagbagsak (Aquino is courting his own imminent downfall),” said Sibayan. ###