#RememberLuisita | Hacienda Luisita massacre reenacted 12 years after

TARLAC CITY, NOVEMBER 16 — The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis Partylist led more than a thousand farm workers of Hacienda Luisita and their supporters from various sectoral groups from Central Luzon and Metro Manila in a […]

via #RememberLuisita | Hacienda Luisita massacre reenacted 12 years after — UMA Pilipinas

Remembering Ricardo Ramos

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Today is the 10th death anniversary of martyred labor leader Ricardo Ramos, president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) and barangay captain of Mapalacsiao, ‪‎Hacienda Luisita‬

Ramos and the 600-strong CATLU forged unity with thousands of farmworkers under the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and launched the historic Luisita People’s Strike (Welgang Bayan) on November 6, 2004.

Ten days after, the state and the Cojuangco-Aquino family attacked the strikers, resulting to the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre.

Ramos was assassinated by a military officer on October 25, 2005. The soldier was acquitted and set free under BS Aquino’s watch in December 2013, amid renewed violence, bulldozing of crops, mauling and eviction of farmers in Hacienda Luisita.

Wala pa ring hustisya para sa mga napaslang at nasaktan at para sa libu-libong mamamayan na biktima ng pinakamasahol na kalagayan sa paggawa at pangangamkam ng lupa.

Justice for all victims of the killings and human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita!

‪#‎EndImpunity‬ NOW!

Ten Photos to Mark Ten Years After the Hacienda Luisita Massacre

Farmworkers lament whitewash, impunity under Aquino

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Powerful images of the 2004 sugar workers’ strike in Hacienda Luisita were pasted by students, faculty and members of the All-UP Workers’alliance today at the Center for International Studies wall, University of the Philippines’ Palma Hall Annex in Diliman, Quezon City to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre.

The public exhibit, #HLMX, is part of the year-long commemoration campaign for the 10th year of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre (HLMX) with events and projects by the Luisita Watch network and its main convenor, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). The pasting of photos at the Palma Hall annex is also part of the march and candle-lighting activities of the End Impunity alliance in UP Diliman today, to mark the 5th year of the Ampatuan massacre and the International Day to End Impunity (November 23).

The #HLMX exhibit is composed of ten photographs taken from Jes Aznar’s reportage on land and land reform in the Philippines which he started ten years ago in Hacienda Luisita. Large photo prints are posted in public places all over the city and beyond. The photos are also publicly available for download at http://hlmx.org for those who want to participate in pasting the images elsewhere.

Aznar’s documentary work on the peasant’s uprising in Hacienda Luisita earned him the start of a career in photojournalism in which he was taken under the mentorship of Romeo Gacad in Agence France Presse. His long-term project to document the roots of conflict in the restive regions of Mindanao landed him a contract in The New York Times, as well as other international publications. With the help of the farm workers themselves, the first few #HLMX photographs were mounted in villages in Hacienda Luisita starting November 12. Volunteers pasted photos in Mendiola, Manila, November 15.

Last November 16, the actual anniversary of the massacre, more photos were pasted on the walls of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac — the very site of the massacre — during the commemorative gathering in honor of Luisita martyrs. Another photo was pasted in San Miguel, Tarlac City near the headquarters of the AFP’s Northern Luzon Command. The photos, and other artworks including an installation by Leeroy New were “whitewashed” by the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ private security personnel in a matter of hours.

“Aquino and his kin will ‘whitewash’ everything – the cases, their public relations, and even these artworks – to keep the nation’s attention away from the blood in their hands,” said Ranmil Echanis, deputy secretary general of UMA. Echanis emphasized that the complete whitewash of the controversial Luisita massacre case happened during the term of Benigno Aquino III as President.

Aquino was Reprepesentative of the 1st District of Tarlac and active manager of the sugar estate during the time of the strike and massacre.

“The Ombudsman completely junked the complaints against military and police officers implicated in the massacre during the first few months of Aquino’s term in 2010, without even conducting a single hearing. In August this year, victims’ kin pleaded to have the case reopened but their motion was immediately denied on October 2 — not even granting their request to be given a copy of the NBI report which was quoted by the Ombudsman in its ruling as basis for the dismissal of the complaints,” said Echanis.

The “confidential” NBI report, which surfaced only this year, however, concludes that the testimonies of the victims, the sugar workers, are more credible than that of the government side, and that there is basis to file criminal charges against several officers. “Impunity in Hacienda Luisita and the rest of the country persists with the massacre perpetrators like Aquino himself and his henchmen, AFP Chief Gregorio Pio Catapang and SOLCOM Chief Ricardo Visaya, occupying the top posts in the government and the military,” said Echanis.

Some of Aznar’s most powerful photos in this current #HLMX line-up first appeared in the groundbreaking documentary video,“Sa Ngalan ng Tubo” produced by Eiler, Tudla and Mayday Productions. The documentarists behind “Sa Ngalan ng Tubo” also captured actual footage of the massacre.

Notes from the #HLMX site describe the photos “(as) witness to the years of (the farmworkers’) resilience in claiming their own land and the years of justice denied to them. Hacienda Luisita has been hailed as the epitome of feudalism and the strongest symbol of failed land reform in the country.” Aznar’s works have been published and exhibited locally and internationally.###

Additional References: Jes Aznar  | http://www.hlmx.org | www.jesaznar.com

 

Amid DAP controversy, DAR protecting PNoy kin interests in Hacienda Luisita with ruthless eviction of farmworkers

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Luisita farmers block DAR tractors. July 8, 2014, Bgy. Mapalacsiao.

While the whole nation’s attention is focused on the controversy surrounding President BS Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),  the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is working double time and with savage energy to evict of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, the 6,453-hectare sugar estate controlled by the Presidential family.

Since June 25, employees of the DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) led by Atty. Jose Eduardo  Narciso, with the active assistance of the Tarlac City Police, have been directly engaged in destroying crops of farmworkers in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita, where farmlands and pilot organic farms of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) are located. The DAR is hell bent in destroying  the farmworkers’ “bungkalan” or land cultivation areas and crush all resistance against its implementation of sham land distribution.

In the June 25 incident, around 6 hectares of palay and vegetable crops belonging to 68-year old farmer Charlito “Gerry” Catalan and collective farms run by AMBALA were destroyed using tractors owned by the DAR;  followed by another incident last July 3 where  around 2 hectares of black rice and string beans cultivated by the family of Luisita farmworker Ofelia Ocampo were destroyed.

Yesterday, July 8, 9.1 hectares with banana trees, and newly planted peanut and chili collectively cultivated by  the families of Rebecca Santos, Neng Pineda, Teresita Ocampo and Reynaldo Ocampo were destroyed upon the orders of DAR. Farmers tried to stop the DAR’s tractors but fully-armed policemen served as security detail to government personnel involved in the unwarranted clearing operations.

Early this year, AMBALA filed a motion to cite the DAR in contempt of the 2012 SC decision for submitting a false report to the Supreme Court . An earlier motion filed July 23, 2013 questioned the DAR’s Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking (APFU) and the allocation of lots via raffle draw or “tambiolo,” methods that are not acceptable to farmworkers. Luisita farmers have long been demanding that the government recognize their collective ownership of the lands and their initiative for land cultivation which started even during the height of the Hacienda Luisita strike in 2005 . The DAR’s tambiolo scheme has clearly sown confusion, dislocation and dispute among beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita.

Areas affected by the recent bulldozing spree of the DAR in Barangay Mapalacsiao, for example, are identified by residents as part of Sitio Silangan and Maligaya in the same barangay. According to the DAR’s anomalous survey, however, lots within these areas are part of another village, Asturias, and were allocated via tambiolo raffle to farmworker-beneficiaries residing in yet another village – Lourdes or Texas.

AMBALA Chairperson Florida Sibayan said that the “DAR is merely posturing to implement the SC decision, but the DAR’s actions clearly favor President BS Aquino and his family’s interests . The DAR is evicting tillers to make way for the  Cojuangco-Aquino sugarcance aryendo (leasehold) system led by PNoy’s loyal Kabarilan Virgie Torres in Mapalacsiao.”

The DAR is facilitating the re-concentration of the lands back to the Cojuangco-Aquinos and is likewise ensuring the constant supply of raw materials for the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill owned by the same powerful political clan.

Sibayan said that the Cojuangco-Aquinos  and the DAR “do not give a damn even if there is still a pending motion filed by AMBALA in the Supreme Court, or even if the public now has been made aware of the fact that the controversial DAP was used to bribe legislators into voting for impeaching then Chief Justice Corona whose court voted for  distribution of lands of Hacienda Luisita.” All this, Sibayan said only shows the despotism of the present government.

AMBALA however will not be easily cowed by these developments. “We are one with the Filipino people in calling for the impeachment of the President not only for DAP but also for the sham land distribution in Hacienda Luisita,” Sibayan said.

 

Crops destroyed by police, agrarian reform officials to make way for Cojuangco sugarcane aryendo in Hacienda Luisita

FACT SHEET ICON

 

Reference: Edith David, AMBALA Barangay Mapalacsiao

INCIDENTS IN BARANGAY MAPALACSIAO, HACIENDA LUISITA

 

VIOLATION: Destruction of Crops

DATE OF INCIDENT: JUNE 25, 2014

 VICTIMS

 1. Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA)-Barangay Mapalacsiao Chapter

2. Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan, 68 years old and family

 

ALLEGED PERPETRATORS

 1. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers (PARO) identified as Atty. Narciso, Beth Ocampo & Oca Atillo.

2. A certain Sheriff Alfredo de Mesa

3. Around 12 uniformed & fully-armed elements of the Tarlac Philippine National Police (PNP)

4. Barangay Lourdes (Texas) Barangay Captain Edison Diaz and barangay watchmen (tanod)

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Cellphone photos by AMBALA-Mapalacsiao

Around 7:00 a.m. of Wednesday, June 25, 2014, persons aboard vehicles with plate numbers SHS 947 (Patrol) and PTA 748 (Gray Mitsubishi) arrived at the local headquarters or “kubol” (hut) of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) in Silangan Street, Barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita.

Among them were local DAR officials led by an Atty. Narciso with Beth Ocampo and Oca Atillo; a Sheriff Alfredo de Mesa; the village chief (barangay captain) of another Luisita barangay, Lourdes (more popularly known as “Texas”), Edison Diaz, his village watchmen (tanod) and some locals; and around 12 fully-armed elements of the Tarlac City police. These officials demanded that AMBALA abandon the area because the lots were already allocated to other farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs), particularly residents of another barangay, Lourdes, via the DAR’s tambiolo (lottery drum) raffle draws last year.

AMBALA members negotiated and asked the officials to honor a previous agreement forged last May 16 between AMBALA and local barangay officials in Hacienda Luisita, Diaz included, to settle disputes among residents and FWBs peacefully, particularly taking into consideration the rights of farmers with existing crops and those who have spent years of toil to develop farmlots for food production. Local AMBALA members asked the DAR officials not to destroy crops.

The local AMBALA headquarters in Mapalacsiao is adjacent to several hectares of rice and vegetable pilot farms employing collective and organic farming practices. With years of training from organic farming experts and practical applications since their bungkalan or land cultivation program commenced in 2005, local AMBALA members in Mapalacsiao have already set up successful models such as a local nursery for vegetables and fruit trees and regular production of compost and other organic fertilizers servicing farmers not only in Mapalacsiao but all other Luisita villages where hundreds of AMBALA members actively engage in the bungkalan.

The farmworkers also showed the DAR officials some documents prohibiting the destruction of crops. But after an hour of discussion, at around 8:00 am, a red big tractor owned by the DAR, manned by Brgy. Capt. Diaz himself, proceeded to destroy AMBALA’s crops. Fully-armed police stood by to serve as security while the group destroyed the crops.

Among those destroyed were:

–          Around half a hectare of sweet potato (camote) scheduled for harvest on July 15

–          Two fields of string beans (sitaw) with trellises

–          Three fields of cassava (kamoteng kahoy)

–          Three fields of eggplant (talong) with abundant fruits

The group threatened to return on Sunday, June 29, to destroy the rest of AMBALA’s crops.

By 11:00 am, the group proceeded to the nearby farmlot of Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan, a 68-year old farmer and long-time Hacienda Luisita farmworker and resident.

The group told Tatang Gerry the same argument demanding him to abandon the area because the lots have already been raffled out to other FWBs. But Tatang Gerry and his family have already invested years of toil into the farm, which now has diverse crops and its own fish pond.

The discussion ended with both parties agreeing that crops must not be destroyed. But only a few moments after Tatang Gerry turned his back, the group began destroying all of the crops now using two big tractors, the red one and another colored blue, both owned by the DAR. The police once again served as the group’s security detail.

Among those destroyed were:

–          12 cavans (around 600 kilos) of palay seeds scheduled for planting in July

–          Fertilizers and herbicides

–          Around half a hectare of squash (kalabasa) with abundant fruits, edible tops and flowers

–          25 beds of mushrooms (active)

–          Three fields of string beans (sitaw) with trellises

–          Three fields of sweet potato (camote) earning a minimum of Php 500 a day from camote tops

AMBALA condemned the attacks in a statement saying that the “The DAR is only posturing that it wants to install legitimate beneficiaries, but it only seeks to evict farmers engaged in palay and vegetable production to make way for the Cojuangcos’ sugarcane aryendo.”

Under the aryendo or lease system, Cojuangco financier agents offer a measly Php 7,000 a year lease to cash-strapped FWBs using documents from the DAR such as the Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC) and Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) as a sort of collateral. Lots are reconcentrated back to Cojuangco-Aquino control to sustain the sugarcane needs of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill, even before actual physical land distribution can occur.

“The DAR only seeks to discredit the hard toil of farmworkers engaged in bungkalan, and ultimately protect the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their exploitative aryendo system,” according to AMBALA Chairperson Florida Sibayan.

Local barangay officials broker these agreements between Cojuangco dummies and FWBs and receive cuts. This explains the role of the likes of Barangay Captains Edison Diaz of Lourdes and Rael Gatus of Mapalacsiao, who have been actively involved in recent disputes – not to mediate but to aggressively impose the chaotic and divisive DAR scheme. Like DAR officials, they also posture to speak in behalf of “disgruntled FWBs,” but their actions actually favor interests of the sugarcane planters and the Cojuangco-Aquino family.

In Barangay Mapalacsiao alone, ex-LTO Chief Virginia Torres, a known ally and “Kabarilan” (shooting buddy) of President BS Aquino, has covered around 200 hectares for sugarcane, victimizing hundreds of FWBs through the aryendo system. Arsenio Valentino – former Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) supervisor-turned- Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization head – meanwhile, has control of hundreds of hectares of DAR-allocated lots in Barangays Lourdes, Bantog and Asturias.

The attacks in Barangay Mapalacsiao is the latest in a series of systematic assaults against organized farmworkers (AMBALA) and their bungkalan, since the DAR commenced what farmers call “sham land distribution” in Hacienda Luisita. AMBALA believes that the group took the opportunity to destroy crops in Mapalacsiao while most AMBALA members and leaders are involved in the Luzon-wide Peasant Lakbayan (People’s March) which will culminate on June 30, the expiration of the widely-criticized Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government.

Since November 2013, bungkalan pilot farms and farmers’ crops were bulldozed by the Cojuangco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) in Barangay Balete after the DAR excluded 358 hectares for land distribution and belatedly issued a notice of land coverage on the same day of TADECO’s violent eviction of farmers. In Barangay Cutcut, around 100 hectares (out of the total 358 hectares claimed by TADECO) of ricefields and vegetable plantations were fenced by TADECO after violent assaults and failed murder attempts against AMBALA leaders in March. State forces such as the Tarlac PNP and military elements were employed to ensure the eviction of farmers. Trumped-up charges serving as “harassment suits” were filed against hundreds of farmers, AMBALA leaders and supporters.

Tatang Gerry Catalan himself is a direct victim of harassment by the DAR. He was previously arrested by fully-armed police elements along with 4 other farmers in April, based on a flimsy complaint by DAR-hired personnel who accused the farmers of impeding her work. After the unlawful arrest, the DAR National Office issued press statements threatening imprisonment to anyone opposed to DAR’s land distribution scheme in Hacienda Luisita. Catalan and four other Mapalacsiao farmers are currently facing charges of violation of R.A. 6657 (CARP).

Days before CARP expiration, farmers slam PNoy, Cojuangco-Aquino sisters “PPP” in Hacienda Luisita

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Farmers from Hacienda Luisita stormed the Cojuangco offices in Makati City today to condemn escalating violence, deception and land grabbing by the Presidential family against supposed farmworker- beneficiaries (FWBs) in the controversial sugar estate. The contingent from the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA ) are also participants of the week-long Peasant Lakbayan (People’s March) which will culminate on June 30, the expiration of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“Hacienda Luisita farmers are long-time victims of the bogus and pro-landlord CARP. Sa Hacienda Luisita, ang ibig sabihin ng ‘PPP’ ay pangangamkam, panloloko, and pandarahas at ito ang pinapatupad ng gobyernong Aquino,” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson. More farmers have been forcibly evicted from productive farmlands in Hacienda Luisita, after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) imposed what farmers call “fake land distribution.”

Only yesterday, June 25, DAR personnel led by a certain Atty. Narciso with the assistance of fully-armed elements of the Tarlac City police, destroyed all the crops of 68-year old farmer Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan of Barangay Mapalacsiao, and other adjacent farm lots devoted to AMBALA’s bungkalan or land cultivation program initiated by the alliance in 2005. Around 5-6 hectares of ricefields, vegetable plantations and seedlings for AMBALA’s system of rice intensification (SRI) pilot farm were destroyed yesterday.

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Angry farmers threw rotten tomatoes at images of President BS Aquino, his uncle, Luisita kingpin Peping Cojuangco and daughter Josephine; and the Aquino sisters led by Kris Aquino, director of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill and Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, treasurer of the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO).

After the Sureme Court ruled to revoke the CARP’s exploitative stock distribution option scheme (SDO), various corporate avatars of the Cojuangco- Aquino family under Jose Cojuangco & Sons, Inc. have been engaged in pangangamkam (landgrabbing), panloloko (deception) and pandarahas(violence) against the farmers, says Sibayan.

AMBALA further noted that while the President has nominally divested his interests in Hacienda Luisita, government policy and the full force of the state’s machinery are used to complement his family’s aggressive efforts to once again dodge land distribution and maintain control of Hacienda Luisita. Government institutions such as the DAR, PNP and AFP, especially in Tarlac are actively used to suppress the farmers’ legitimate grievances and demands.

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Kris Aquino is still officially listed as director of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) which has fenced off and evicted farmers in a 300-hectare area in adjacent barangays Mapalacsiao and Parang. Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz is the treasurer of the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), which has hired thugs involved in recent frustrated murder attempts against AMBALA leaders, bulldozing of crops, arson, and fencing off of 358 hectares of agricultural land even after the DAR issued a notice of land reform coverage.

Cruz is also a member of the board of directors of the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) where two other Presidential sisters Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee sit as top stockholders. The LRC’s bid for a PPP – or public-private partnership project to convert portions of the estate into a Luisita Ecozone — was recently given a positive response by the PEZA. President Aquino will give the final approval for the project.

The LRC fenced around 20 hectares of land in Barangay Cutcut which was allocated by DAR for distribution. Federico Sagun, a FWB awarded a lot in the said area, complained to DAR Tarlac but was merely told to report to the police so that a blotter could be filed. AMBALA says that more than 1,500 hectares of agricultural land in Luisita were mysteriously excluded by the DAR for distribution.

“President BS Aquino has certified as urgent, moves to extend the effect of the pestilence called CARP because his family was able to amass immense wealth from Hacienda Luisita through bogus land reform and murder. We oppose another CARP extension and call for the immediate enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB),” said Sibayan.

Fact-finding mission confirms “Martilyo Gang”-type attacks against Luisita farmers, seeks international support

TARLAC CITY, APRIL 5 — Agrarian reform advocates led by the Luisita Watch network launched a national fact-finding mission (FFM) in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita today to document growing rights violations against land reform beneficiaries.

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A TADECO security outpost stands near the place of incident of the March 28 “Martilyo Gang”-type attack against farmers in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita. Concrete posts, fences and checkpoints set up by TADECO bar farmers from tending to their crops.

The fact finding mission led by Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis party list, and leaders of various peasant and human rights organizations and alternative media groups, will seek international support against escalating terror and impunity in Hacienda Luisita. The mission also brought relief aid courtesy of Caritas Manila to families and individual victims of rights abuses and displacement.

The organized ranks of Luisita farmers led by the AMBALA alliance and its land cultivation initiative called “bungkalan” have been targets of relentless attacks by the Cojuangco-Aquino family since the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) commenced land distribution activities in Hacienda Luisita.

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TADECO concrete posts detailed in front of paramilitary CAFGU detachment in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita

Most recent rights violations include “Martilyo Gang-”type attacks, arbitrary arrests, and ‘legal’ harassment. Eviction of farmers, bulldozing of crops and dismantling of homes and farmhuts started by Cojuangco firm TADECO late last year became more aggressive as vast farmlands are fenced with barbed wires and concrete. Other Cojuangco-Aquino entities such as the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT)  sugar mill and the Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) are also involved in the violent eviction of farmers.

Peasant and human rights organizations such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) and KARAPATAN observed that reported violations against Luisita farmers are practically state-sponsored.

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A discarded tarpaulin streamer of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform’s notice of land reform coverage for agricultural land in Barangays Balete and Cutcut hangs on a bamboo pole at a checkpoint manned by TADECO security personnel.

Government institutions such as the DAR and local courts are involved in violations. State forces like the Tarlac PNP force, SWAT teams and regular and paramilitary personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are utilized as “private armies” to impose landlord authority in Hacienda Luisita. The Department of Justice (DOJ), meanwhile, has been dragging its feet on farmers’ urgent pleas. President BS Aquino, a fifth-generation scion of the Cojuangco clan, has been mum on Luisita.

The mission focused on recent incidents in Barangay Cutcut where terror was instituted by thugs and security guards hired by TADECO, with the support of local police and army personnel. The attack, according to the farmers, involved not only mauling but planned murder attempts of particular AMBALA leaders allegedly ordered by the Cojuangco family.

IMG_2801

Romeo “Apong Fernan” Corpuz

Three peasants were illegally arrested by the police on March 28 namely Marcelino Lugay, Ofelia “Pia” Hernandez, and Romeo “Fernan” Corpuz. All three were injured by hammer blows along with other farmers, while Corpuz was rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart problems. Corpuz also suffered fractures on his left hand and was placed under hospital arrest. The three were released on March 31. Charges of physical injury were lodged against them by their very attackers.

TADECO thugs with the help of police and military forces also dismantled and ransacked AMBALA’s Barangay Cutcut headquarters and set up a checkpoint near the area to prevent tillers from entering the farmlands.

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Only bamboo posts left of AMBALA’s headquarters after TADECO thugs dismantled and ransacked the said farmhut in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita.

The FFM also interviewed AMBALA members George Gatus, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez, who with two other farmers Gerry Catalan and Jaime Quiambao were illegally arrested April 3 in Barangay Mapalacsiao by Tarlac police led by Acting Tarlac Chief of Police PSI Felix Bervo. To justify the arrest, an employee of the DAR-hired survey firm FF Cruz Co. lodged a complaint of coercion and violation of the implementation of the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. The farmers were released the following day.

Human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita are monitored by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and recently documented by international artist and activist Monique Wilson’s New Voice Company. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) also issued an appeal letter circulated globally regarding a Luisita peasant leader, Rudy Corpuz of AMBALA, who was hurt defending farmlands in a confrontation with thugs employed by TADECO.

Luisita Watch will release a full-report on this fact-finding mission and the status of implementation of land reform in Hacienda Luisita before April 24 — or two years after the historic Supreme Court decision to implement land distribution in this dispute-ridden sugar estate.

REFERENCE: Gi Estrada
CONTACT NO.: 09166114181