This past week, the news report “SupremeCourt votes 14-0 to redistribute Hacienda Luisita” which first appeared on November 24, 2011 at Interaksyon.com suddenly went viral, eliciting mostly hopeful reactions from netizens. One opinion columnist even referred to the news as an “early Christmas” treat for Luisita farmers.
Why did netizens revive this 4-year old news item on Hacienda Luisita? We suppose that it is public knowledge that Hacienda Luisita farmers are still fighting for genuine land reform and justice. Concerned citizens, however, may not be fully aware that it has been years since the SC’s unanimous decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita was made final and executory on April 24, 2012.
A closer look at the situation of the so-called “beneficiaries” will reveal that land distribution in Luisita under the BS Aquino regime has been a complete sham.
Paying attention to details of the Interaksyon.com video, one would realize that the areas where farmers are shown planting rice and cultivating vegetable plots are the same areas where farmers have been forcibly evicted in subsequent violent incidents from 2012 up to the present. Even the actual farmers interviewed in the story – Gary Gonzales and Anita Flores – have become victims displaced by police and military-assisted eviction from 2013 to 2014.
See this April 2014 UCAN news story showing farmer Gary Gonzales:
..and this Tudla newsreel dated November 2014 with farmer Anita Flores:
Agricultural areas shown in the Interaksyon video, located in Barangay Balete, Hacienda Luisita, are now fenced and heavily-guarded by private security personnel of Cojuangco-Aquino firm TADECO and LRC, and the Yuchengco-owned RCBC.
Only a few months after the Interaksyon.com report, from January to March 2012, a series of violent attacks in the RCBC area led to the unlawful arrest of several farmers. Other than this, it was a few days before Christmas in 2013 when crops and huts have been razed to the ground in the TADECO area. More atrocities, such as destruction of crops and property, burning of huts, unlawful detention of farmers including children, were reported in 2014.
Only last March, President BS Aquino signed a public-private partnership (PPP) project to construct the Tarlac Solar Power Plant in the said disputed areas. PetroSolar, the private firm tasked to implement the project with the Department of Energy is also owned by the Yuchengcos – the same Cojuangco-Aquino business partners claiming ownership of disputed lands through RCBC.
We stand with Luisita farmers fighting to stop further dislocation. Farmworkers have been consistently struggling alongside the people for genuine land reform and social justice.
We urge concerned citizens to closely monitor developments in Hacienda Luisita and join us in keeping the public informed of the most recent #LuisitaUpdate. For fresh news on the farmworkers’ struggle for land and justice, follow Luisita Watch on Twitter and visit our blog at www.luisitawatch.wordpress.com
Media Officer, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
Follow @UMApilipinas on Twitter