Luisita cases in Int’l Peoples’ Tribunal

Visit the International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) website

IPTcases

On July 16-19, 2015 at Washington, DC, human rights defenders, peace and justice advocates, lawyers, jurists, academics, church people, and political activists will come together to convene the International Peoples Tribunal on Crimes against the Filipino people by President Benigno S. Aquino and the US Government as represented by President Barack Obama.

Recent human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita will  be heard under the second ground of charges against Aquino, under gross violations of economic, social and cultural rights. Landgrabbing from peasants in Defendant President Aquino’s family-owned Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac (where striking sugarworkers were massacred years back) in which the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme was invalidated and the distribution of the lands to farmers ordered but they are being harassed and dispossessed in connivance with government agencies.

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Ibasura ang CARPER! – UMA / Ambala

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Binigkas ni Florida “Pong” Sibayan ng AMBALA ang posisyon ng mga manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita hinggil sa ekstensyon ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), kanina sa hearing sa Senado.

Posisyon ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura / Alyansa ng mga Mangggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) hinggil sa Senate Bill 2188 o panukalang ekstensyon ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program hanggang Hunyo 30, 2016.

Para sa Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform hearing, Mayo 21, 2014

Inirerehisto ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa ilalim ng UMA at AMBALA ang mariing pagtutol sa isa na namang ekstensyon ng peke, waldas at palpak na Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Matagal nang dapat na ibinasura ang batas na ito dahil sa napakahaba at madugong rekord nito ng panloloko at pagpapahirap sa mga magbubukid.

Ang panukala para sa pagkumpleto ng komponenteng land acquisition and distribution (LAD) at paglalabas ng mga notice of coverage (NOC) para sa mga agrikultural na lupaing dapat saklawin ng programang ito — gaya ng isinasaad ng House Bill 4296 at nitong Senate Bill 2188 — ay isang grandyosong pagpapaasa at kahibangan. Matagal nang galit at ginigipit ang milyun-milyong magsasaka dahil sa CARP. Ang mga asendero’t aryendador na namamayagpag sa loob ng Kongreso, Senado at Malacanang ang siyang tanging matutuwa sa pagratsada ng hungkag na panukalang ito.

Masdan natin ang kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa agrikultura sa Isla ng Negros, ang tradisyunal na balwarte ng malalaking panginoong maylupa gaya ng mga Cojuangco. Libu-libong ektarya ng lupain ang nananatili sa kontrol ng mga asendero dahil sa mga iskema ng CARP na corporative scheme at stock-distribution option (SDO). Aabot na sa 60% ang pagbawi o rekonsentrasyon ng lupain mula sa mga tinatawag na “benepisyaryo ng CARP.” Ang paglalabas ng mga NOC, gaya halimbawa sa Hacienda Ilimnan at Arloc sa Murcia ay hindi garantiya ng distribusyon ng lupa sa mga magbubukid — lalo na at ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Negros Occidental ay kasabwat ng mga dambuhalang kumpanyang multi-nasyunal gaya ng Dole sa pangangamkam ng lupa mula sa mga magbubukid.

Huwag na tayong lumayo pa. Sa mahigit 6,000 ektaryang bakuran mismo ni Pangulong BS Aquino sa Hacienda Luisita, nilalapastangan ng asenderong angkang Cojuangco-Aquino ang inilabas na panibagong NOC para sa mga lupain ng TADECO, ang ninunong kumpanya ng mga Cojuangco. Kaliwa’t kanan ang pananakot, pandarahas at panloloko sa mga magbubukid gamit ang pinakamatataas na opisyal ng DAR, AFP, PNP at mga korte lalo na sa probinsya ng Tarlac, para lamang makabwelo ang pangangamkam at pagpapanatili sa kontrol sa lupa para produksyon ng tubo at ilegal na pagpapalit-gamit (land conversion).

Sino ang maaasahan ng pamilya ng asenderong Pangulo bilang katuwang sa pagsabotahe ng repormang agraryo sa Hacienda Luisita? Nariyan ang kanyang Kabarilan na si dating LTO Chief at Casino Queen Virgie Torres na bagong salta sa Luisita bilang aryendador at kolektor ng ipinamahaging Certificate of Land Ownership Award o CLOA sa pamamagitan ng barat na rentahan na bumibiktima sa gipit na “benepisyaryo.” At nariyan din mismo ang kagalang-galang na kinatawan ng Distrito ng Tarlac na nakaupo rin sa Komite ng Repormang Agraryo sa Kongreso, Rep. Noel Villlanueva, na matagal nang sumasaklaw sa libu-libong ektaryang lupain ng Luisita para sa pagpapatanim ng tubo para sa Central Azucarera de Tarlac ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino. Ang ipinagmamalaki ng gubyernong Aquino na 93% nang kumpleto ang distribusyon ng lupa sa Hacienda Luisita ay pinapasinungalingan ng malaganap na aryendo sa pangunguna ng mga personaheng ito na protektado ng DAR at Malacanang.

Halos kalahating bilyong piso mula sa kaban ng bayan ang ibinigay na kumpensasyon sa pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino para sa Hacienda Luisita. Pero ang mga agrikultural na lupain ng asyenda ay patuloy ngayong binabakuran at binabantayan ng mga bayarang sanggano, habang binubuldoser ang mga pananim, sinusunog ang mga kubo, binubugbog, minamartilyo ang ulo, pinapadampot at ipinapakulong ang mga magsasakang dapat ay benepisyaryo ng repormang agraryo. Ang mismong paglalabas ng NOC, nang hiwalay sa kabuuang lupain ng Asyenda Luisita na dapat ipamahagi batay sa utos ng Korte Suprema, ay parte ng panibagong panloloko na pinahihintulutan ng batas na CARPER.

Sobra-sobra na ang dalawa’t kalahating dekada ng implementasyon ng CARP para makita ng publiko na walang pangil ang batas na ito sa pagbuwag ng malalaking monopolyo sa lupa. Ang pondo ng bayan na inilalaan para sa huwad na programang ito ay nagiging gatasang-baka lang ng mga kurakot na pulitiko na madalas kaysa hindi ay kabilang din sa mga angkan o dinastiya ng makapangyarihang mga asendero sa buong bansa.

Lantad na sa madla ang talamak na korapsyon sa gubyerno. Dawit sa pork barrel scam ang mga ahensyang nangangasiwa sa agrikultura gaya ng DA at DAR. Napakalaking insulto para sa sektor ng mga magsasaka at manggagawa sa agrikultura ang pagsasangkalan sa hikahos na kalagayan ng mga magbubukid para makapag-imbudo ng mga pondo para sa mga tunog-magsasakang pekeng NGO na inaalagaan ng mga kurakot sa gobyerno. Pero higit pang malaking insulto ang daan-bilyong pondo – ANG TUMATAGINTING NA 150 BILYONG PISO – na patuloy na ilalagak mula sa kaban ng bayan para sa walang kwentang ekstensyon ng isang walang kwentang batas gaya ng CARP.

Sa pork barrel scam, kailangan pa ng mga tagapamagitan na gaya ni Janet Napoles at mga pekeng NGO para makapangurakot. Pero mas masahol ang CARP at ang panukalang ekstensyon nito, dahil ang mga tiwaling ahensya gaya ng DAR at ang mismong Opisina ng Pangulo na may kontrol sa pondo para sa debt service at unprogrammed items sa GAA ay patuloy na bibigyang kapangyarihan para maging “legal” at direktang daluyan ng limpak-limpak na kumpensasyon para sa lupang hindi naman binibitiwan ng mga swapang na asendero gaya ng pamilya ni Pangulong BS Aquino. Isang tingin lang sa kalunus-lunos na sitwasyon ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa Negros at Hacienda Luisita, makikita na ang garapalang pangungurakot – totoong hindi makatarungan ang tinatawag ng CARP na “just compensation.”

Wala nang maaasahan ang mga manggagawang-bukid at manggagawa sa agrikultura mula sa panibagong ekstensyon ng CARP. Matagal nang pinapanawagan ng UMA at AMBALA ang pagsusulong ng Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) o na kilala ngayon bilang HB 252 bilang alternatibo sa pagpanaw ng CARPER sa susunod na buwan.

Sa interes ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at hustisyang panlipunan, kailangan nang ibasura ang bulok na batas, ilibing ang naghihingalong CARP.

DAR Intentionally Excluded Other Lands for Distribution in Hacienda Luisita

AMBALA STATEMENT – April 25, 2014

Balete LandGrab

The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) is refuting the Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes’ claim that the DAR has so far been faithful to the 2012 Supreme Court decision to distribute more than 4,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita lands, and that the lands that are now being disputed by the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the Luisita farm workers are not covered by the landmark SC ruling.

According to AMBALA chairperson, Florida Sibayan, “the DAR secretary must be reminded that the SC decision specifically orders DAR to find other agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita and inlude these lands for land distribution.” Sibayan is refering to the specific provision in the April 24, 2012 final and executory decision of the SC which says that while only 4,915.75  out of the more than 6,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita should be coverable, it should be taken into account that this should not prevent the DAR, under its mandate under the agrarian reform law, from subsequently subjecting to agrarian reform other agricultural lands originally held by Tadeco that were allegedly not transferred to HLI but were supposedly covered by RA 6657.”

Sibayan further asserts that the matter itself that only 4,915 hectares has been made coverable out of the more that 6,000 hectare of Luisita lands “points to how the Cojuangco-Aquinos, in collusion with the DAR, through illegal acts of land conversion, has manuevered to retain more than a thousand hectares of lands.”  These include properties of other Cojuangco-owned companies such as those now controlled by the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) 382.5451 has., Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) 373.909 has. , Luisita Golf and Country Club (LGCC) 78.8823 has., and the Tarlac Development Corporation 586 has. Out of a total of 1063.4776 has. , Delos Reyes stated that only around 300 might be covered for land distribution.

Sibayan said that these lands are generally still very much agricultural in nature even as some parts may have already been used for some other purposes through land conversions that were never legally approved by the DAR. The DAR only approved the conversion of 584 hectares of land.

If one includes the 358 hectares which have already been given an NOC, these total 1421.4776 hectares. This is 1/3 of the 4,335 hectare land that should have been distributed by DAR based on one of its rulings which stipulated that these were the lands that were converted into Stock Distribution Option (SDO). In essence the DAR should have distributed  5756.4776 hectares instead of only 4,099. The farm worker beneficiaries were robbed of an additional 1657.4776 hectares of land.

AMBALA had already submitted to the Tarlac DAR office on April 15 a letter requesting that  the 1421.4776 hectares of land should be distributed to the farm worker beneficiaries based on the SC decision. This was given to DAR Sec. de los Reyes’ office on April 24.

AMBALA however says that “not much can be expected of DAR given its long record of conniving with the Cojuangco-Aquino’s in implementing a sham land reform program in the Hacienda. This includes encouraging TADECO to forcibly and violently evict the farm worker beneficiaries in the 358 hectare lots in Barangays Balete and Cutcut together with the help of police and military personnel even if DAR had already issued a Notice of Coverage (NOC) on said lands. “

Cutcut Landgrab

P-Noy & kin milking peasants and taxpayers dry with Hacienda Luisita land reform scam since 1957

Voluminous land titles, documents unearthed by farmers and supporters

April 10 AMBALA Letter to DAR

TIMELINE: Hacienda Luisita

The Cojuangco-Aquino family has been swindling Luisita peasants and the Filipino people since Magsaysay time. As one of the most influential and politically-savvy of landlord clans in the country, they have used all their power to accrue profits, milking public funds dry while cunningly retaining control of the vast sugar plantation especially during the two Cojuangco-Aquino presidencies.

This is the statement made by Florida Sibayan, chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA.) AMBALA, the main petitioner favored by the Supreme Court (SC) in a landmark decision released two years ago, represents thousands of farmworkers fighting for genuine agrarian reform and social justice in Hacienda Luisita.

A voluminous sheaf of land titles and documents were presented today by AMBALA to the press, to prove that the Cojuangco-Aquino family had time and again swindled not only farmers but the whole Filipino people with its land reform posturings.  AMBALA and its supporters uncovered the titles and documents as a result of extensive research on Cojuangco firms engaged in aggresive landgrabbing efforts, after the SC ruled to distribute land to farmers.

“P-Noy and his family owe their wealth and influence to every farmer and taxpayer that they have disenfranchised and swindled for generations, ” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson. The Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) acquired the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) from its original Spanish owners in 1957, using money  loaned from the GSIS and endorsed by Bangko Sentral. The rest of the 6,000 plus hectare estate went under their control via an understanding with the Magsaysay government that under its social justice program, these lands will be distributed to its original owners, the small farmers, after 10 years.

“Now the Aquino administration granted Presidential kin half a billion pesos as compensation for Hacienda Luisita. Public funds were once again used to enrich this scheming landlord clan when they in fact have never fulfilled their loan obligations to the Filipino public after 50 years.”

Josephine Cojuangco-Guingona, daughter of Luisita kingpin Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. recently claimed that certain landholdings in Luisita were reclassified in 1985 and should not be covered by agrarian reform. “That’s a lie,” said Sibayan. “The only time Luisita was supposedly reclassified was in 1995, during the stint of her mother, Tingting Cojuangco, as governor of Tarlac. The DAR, however, approved only 500 hectares for actual conversion. Very opposite to their claims, what actually happened in 1985 was that the Manila Regional Trial Court ruled that TADECO must finally distribute Luisita to farmers. That breakthrough court decision was sabotaged by Cory’s CARP and SDO in 1989.”

“Now in 2012, the SC ruled to revoke the Stock Disribution Option (SDO) scheme, distribute land to farmworkers and pay us our share of the Php 1.33 B proceeds of land sale by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) – precisely because of the grave injustices we endured under this SDO landlord scam legalized by Cory’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Today the CARP and its extension CARPER still serves as a milking cow for landlords. The Cojuangco-Aquinos do not deserve a single centavo for Hacienda Luisita” said Sibayan.

The SDO scheme in Tarlac brought extreme poverty and suffering to farmworkers and prompted thousands to rise up and strike against the HLI management. However, this same big landlord scam is still in effect in 10 Negros haciendas leaving thousands of hectares of agricultural land under the control of a handful of powerful and scheming landlords.

The original land area of Hacienda Luisita is widely known to be 6, 453 hectares, but only 4,915 were declared by the Cojuangcos to be agricultural in use when the SDO was implemented in 1989. Of these thousands of hectares, 500 hectares were approved land use conversion, thus the SC order to subtract this figure along with 80.5 hectares of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to come up with 4,335 hectares for land distribution in its 2012 ruling.

This land coverage swindleis aggravated by the new survey conducted by the DAR-hired firm FF Cruz, Co. which further reduced declared agricultural lands in Luisita by another 200 plus hectares, despite the SC order to place under land reform “other agricultural lands originally held by TADECO that were allegedly not transferred to HLI but were supposedly covered by RA 6657 (CARP)”.

In a letter dated April 10, AMBALA dared the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to cover more than a thousand hectares of agricultural land which the Cojuangco-Aquinos deliberately hid from agrarian reform. The titles and documents trace the transfer of land property to several Cojuangco-Aquino corporate avatars to deliberately hide these landholdings from the scrutiny of farmers and agrarian reform institutions.

Among landholdings without proper conversion orders are the Las Haciendas de Luisita, Don Pepe Cojuangco Homes and Park Homes subdivisions, the Luisita Industrial Park 1 Complex, the Luisita Golf & Country Club, the Aquino Museum and the Plaza Luisita mall complex or Robinsons Luisita. AMBALA reiterates that only 500 hectares of land were legally put under land use conversion and this was approved by the DAR only in 1996. Thus several lucrative transactions made before this year or covering landholdings aside from the 500-hectare area, undermine the Cojuangco-Aquino family’s primary obligation to the government and the public – to return these lands to its original owners, the farmers.

If properly accounted for, the HLI and the Cojuangco-Aquino family may be obligated to compensate farm workers not just with the Php 1.33 billion returns but with all other hefty revenues from its illegitimate transactions involving Hacienda Luisita property.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are now desperately ‘seeking support’ from local village officials and local government to justify its illegal and immoral Luisita Ecozone project. In Hacienda Lusita, P-Noy’s so-called ‘daang matuwid’ is a blood-stained path which reeks of brazen corruption, deceit, bribery and coercion.”

Luisita farmers will hold a solidarity cultural activity with supporters from different sectors in front of the DAR offices along Elliptical Road Quezon City tonight. Hundreds of Luisita farmers trooped to Manila to protest the hoax land distribution scheme implemented by the DAR, exactly two years after the landmark SC ruling.  #

April 10 AMBALA Letter to DAR by LuisitaWatch