Oligarchs and Multinationals to Benefit from Martial Law in Mindanao

Business as usual, that is the reaction today of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao as only oligarchs and multinationals will benefit from this.

This was ensured by one of the most rightist and pro-neoliberal member of President Duterte’s cabinet, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He was one of those who persuaded the chief executive to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, even if fighting on the so-called Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups were only confined in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

UMA is also one with the people of Marawi City in condemning on the violence inflicted on them by these groups, but at the same time in using this as an excuse to declare martial law.

According to Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of UMA, it is calling on its members nationwide to oppose martial law in Mindanao and its possible extension to the whole country. He added that martial law will only further suppress the labor, land and human rights of agricultural workers and of the Filipino people.

Such is the case of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI). They were installed by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano back to their lands grabbed by Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) on May 18 this year on the orders of President Duterte himself.

Recent reports though indicate that LFC guards are harassing MARBAI members and their supporters. Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao might embolden said oligarch owned company to once again forcibly eject them from their lands.

Another is the continued harassment and death threats made on May 23 by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army on striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Corp in Compostela Valley.

The company is a Korean owned banana plantation and 80 of its workers staged a strike on March 16 for being dismissed by the company because of labor only contracting. Its members are affiliated with Shin Sun Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU.

All organizers and members of agricultural workers in Mindanao are at risk of being attacked by state security forces as Defense Chief Lorenzana branded the place as a haven of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

Agricultural workers should emulate the example of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which was organized in 1971 or a year before the dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. NFSW in coordination with UMA will hold a Congress this coming May 30-31 in Bacolod City to re-establish itself as a national federation.

Even when Marcos declared martial law, NFSW continued to successfully organize sugar workers in the fields and mills across the island even with arrests made on their ranks. A number of them also joined the armed resistance against the dictatorship.

Because of the intense exploitation and oppression against the sugar workers, NFSW was able to expand up to the 80’s and it was even a founding member of the KMU. It also contributed immensely to the ouster of Marcos from power in 1986 despite suffering deaths during the Escalante massacre a year before that.

Agricultural workers already have their own organizations in Mindanao and have been steeled in struggle as their collective actions like in the rest of the country have been met by fascist attacks. They should be ready to face further attacks because of the declaration of martial law and engage in all forms of struggle necessary.

They have the support of the Filipino peasantry, workers and people in defending their labor, land and human rights and in shouting never again to martial law. President Duterte should lift martial law because even if it is very harsh, the people would definitely struggle and win against it.18698676_1385240054892079_833020321_o.jpg

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Cojuangco-Aquino lackeys order destruction of crops in Luisita — farmers

According to Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Buena Timbol of the Luisita Estate Management (LEM) and Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) ordered elements of Tarlac police, including members of the Special Weapons Attack Team (SWAT), to flatten the crops in barangay Mapalacsiao. (Contributed photo/ Bulatlat) “The Cojuangco-Aquinos are far worse than drug lords, they are a feudal lord family, they victimize, not individuals, but generations of farmers, and their crime is the mother of all social cancers and injustice in the country, tyrannical monopoly control over vast tracks of land.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANLA — On the day peasant leader Rafael Mariano was installed as chief of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), allies of the Cojuangco Aquino clan reportedly ordered the destruction of more than 20 hectares of palay and vegetables in Hacienda Luisita.

According to Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Buena Timbol of the Luisita Estate Management (LEM) and Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) ordered elements of Tarlac police, including members of the Special Weapons Attack Team (SWAT), to flatten the crops in barangay Mapalacsiao.

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos said former DAR officials should be held accountable.

Ramos said, Justin Vincent La Chica, former Chief of Staff of then DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, in a memorandum dated May 18, 2016, told the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) not to wait for the pending agrarian dispute case in said area for the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in barangay Mapalacsiao.

UMA maintained that the disputed land, cultivated by Leoncio Suarez, Gerry Catalan and others since 2004, should be given to the tillers and not to ARBs linked to the Cojuangco-Aquino clan.

Last year, PARO led by lawyer Jose Eduardo Narcisco, with assistance from fully-armed policemen, destroyed the food crops and fruit trees in the same area in Hacienda Luisita.

UMA said the DAR was also instrumental in the illegal arrest, smear campaign and filing of trumped-up charges against Hacienda Luisita farmers. Catalan and several others were slapped with violation of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law – for cultivating the land promised by agrarian reform.

in a separate statement, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao condemned what he called as the “latest barbarism committed by the Cojuangco-Aquino family against the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.”

Anakpawis filed a resolution calling for an inquiry on how the DAR under Aquino implemented the Supreme Court decision on Hacienda Luisita.

Casilao urged President Rodrigo Duterte to examine “the continuing collusion of government officials with the Cojuangco-Aquinos.”

He also urged the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate why Tarlac PNP continues to serve as a private army of the Cojuangco-Aquino family.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are far worse than drug lords, they are a feudal lord family, they victimize, not individuals, but generations of farmers, and their crime is the mother of all social cancers and injustice in the country, tyrannical monopoly control over vast tracks of land,” Casilao said.

Earlier, Mariano vowed to prioritize the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the farmers. (http://bulatlat.com)

#LuisitaUpdate | Why did netizens revive a 4-year-old news item on Hacienda Luisita?

luisitaupdate

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 

 

GI ESTRADA
Media Officer, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
uma.pilipinas@gmail.com

Follow @UMApilipinas on Twitter

 

Hacienda Luisita news in “Ang UMA” 2015 issue

“Ang UMA” is the official publication of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA Pilipinas – Federation of Agricultural Workers), one of the main convenors of the Luisita Watch network.

Philippine Land Reform Movement

plrm

Farmers, other sectors link arms to fight for genuine land reform

Genuine land reform would result in genuinely broad-based overall economic growth, rapid poverty reduction and genuine food security.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Over 500 farmers from different regions of the country and leaders of several organizations gathered together to launch the Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM), May 28, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The farmers who came consider themselves as victims of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Despite being beneficiaries of the so-called CARP, farmers from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Hacienda Looc in Batangas, Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga, Araneta Estate in Bulacan and Hacienda Yulo in Laguna are being evicted from their lands. Peasant leaders from Panay, the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, and Mindanao also attended the PLRM launch.

The newly formed movement opposed the passage of a bill seeking to extend the CARP further. House Bill No. 4296, the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) or Notice of Coverage (NOC) is pending at the House of Representatives.

CARP a failure

After 27 years of CARP, majority of farmers do not own the land they till.

According to independent think tank Ibon Foundation, leasehold farmers have increased from 555,232 in 1988 to 1.2 million in 2012. Millions of farmers are still under contract agreements with plantation owners and agribusiness corporations, many of which contracts are onerous to the interests of farmers and farmworkers. Some 1.2 million hectares are under agribusiness contracts.

Data from the Land Bank of the Philippines show that only 9.7 percent of CARP ‘beneficiaries’ are fully paid while 14 are still paying. Seventy-six percent are not paying anymore.

On the other hand, the government has paid a staggering P192 billion (US$4.3 billion) from 1988 to 2012 for landlord “compensation,” according to Ibon.

At the grassroots

Melecio Canete, one of the hundreds of farmers threatened of eviction in Tungkong Mangga, Bulacan told his fellow farmers, “Do not leave the land, even if it will cost you your life.”

His fellow farmers from Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc, Hacienda Dolores, Hacienda Yulo, Central Mindanao University, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, among others, have exactly been doing that. They all have opted to stay in their land despite the use of violence against their ranks.

Numeral said they are able to score “small victories” only through collective action.

Numeral said that in the Caraga region, farmers’ organizations succeeded in reducing the price of milling, from P2 ($0.04) per sack per sack of palay (unhusked rice) to P0.75 ($0.04) per sack.

He said that Namasor was able to negotiate the lowering of interest imposed by usurers, from one sack of palay for every P1,000 ($22.4) to 20 kilos of palay. One sack of palay is equivalent to 40 kilos.

Namasor also led the campaign against payment of 50-percent land rent to the Ong-oh family. Majority of the 140 families of coconut farmers have stopped paying land rent after Namasor exposed that the Ong-oh clan could not prove ownership of the land located in three provinces in Caraga.

In Panay, meanwhile, Chris Chavez, chairperson of local peasant group Pamanggas, shared how the Tumanduks, an indigenous tribe, continue to assert their right to their ancestral domain in the 33,310-hectare military reservation.

Key to national development

Both Numeral and Chavez welcomed the formation of the PLRM.

Chavez said it is the first time in history that such a movement was formed. “Not only farmers but also those from the other sectors are now pushing for genuine agrarian reform,” he said.

Members of the academe, church, scientists and engineers, parliamentarians, artists, peasants, workers, urban poor, youth, women, Moro, human rights and peace advocates joined the PLRM.

Rosario Bella Guzman, Ibon executive editor, said land reform is still the key to national development.

Guzman said genuine land reform would result in genuinely broad-based overall economic growth, rapid poverty reduction and genuine food security.

In its unity statement, the PLRM said, “nationalist industrialization and genuine agrarian reform are the fundamental pillars of sustainable development and national sovereignty. “

The PLRM vowed to join direct actions asserting and defending farmers’ right to land.

Remembering Marcelino “Ka Marcing” Beltran

Ten years ago today, soldiers killed Marcelino “Ka Marcing” Beltran, Tarlac peasant leader and Hacienda Luisita massacre witness. Read more on the extrajudicial killing of Ka Marcing from the original Bulatlat.com story here.

Below is an excerpt from the 2013 Hacienda Luisita fact-finding report, “For Land and Justice” (click to download PDF)

Marcelino Beltran

Marcelino Beltran: Armyman turned Peasant Leader

On the night of December 8, 2004, Marcelino Beltran was brutally murdered in his home in San Sotero, Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac.

Beltran, 53, was chairperson of the AMT (Tarlac Peasant Alliance). He was a retired sergeant in the Philippine military before joining farmers’ groups.

Beltran’s son Mark, his wife, Simeona, and other children saw Beltran sprawled on the ground, bloodied but still breathing, 15 meters from the house. Bleeding in the arms of his wife, Beltran was able to utter his final words in the Ilokano dialect: “Suldado daggidyay nagpaltog” (Soldiers shot me).

Family members recount that as they were on board a tricycle to bring Beltran to the Camiling District Hospital some kilometers away, armed men in fatigue uniform accosted them and asked whether the patient they were carrying was Beltran. Fearing for their safety, they answered “no.” Those who had shot Beltran left nothing to chance.

Beltran died two hours after the shooting and never even reached the hospital. Beltran was about to testify regarding bullet trajectories in scheduled hearings on the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in Congress and the Senate. He was also preparing to attend the Human Rights March two days later on December 10, his birthday.

WATCH: #HLMX newsreels

News reports on the November 15-16 protest caravan for the tenth year commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita massacre (HLMX) from Mendiola, Manila to the Gate 1 of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill, the site of the massacre a decade ago.

http://news5.com.ph/embed.aspx?g=5E1BAD5F6C6249B