Hacienda Luisita Farmworkers Shocked and Revolted on SC Ruling on Audit Report

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) were shocked and revolted at the Supreme Court ruling which upheld the auditor’s report that the 6,296 farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) will not get a single centavo from their share of P1.33 billion for the sale of 580.51 hectares (has.) by the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

Renato Mendoza, secretary general of AMBALA, stated that this decision will surely get the ire of the FWBs especially that their preferred accounting firm, Ocampo Mendoza Leung and Lim (OMLL), was later removed by the SC supposedly for lack of interest. This is despite the fact that OMLL attended three meetings called by DAR from July –September, 2016 with the Audit panel created by the SC.

In effect, Mendoza added, the Audit Panel composed by the SC is lopsided as it is composed of two audit firms selected by HLI, namely Reyes Tacandong & Co. and Navarro Amper & Co. (Deloitte). Carisa May Pay Penson, the lone individual accountant chosen by the SC is a former employee of the KPMG firm which AMBALA had previously sought to disqualify for having had business ties with the Cojuangcos.

On the other hand, the thousands of FWBs were deprived of their right to be represented by their chosen audit firm.

The SC ruling of April 24, 2012 ordered the total land distribution of Luisita’s agricultural lands, the revocation of the SDO, and the audit of HLI and CHI “to determine if the P1,330,511,500 (Php 1.33 billion) proceeds of sale of three (3) lots were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes.

Any unspent or unused balance and any disallowed expenditures as determined by the audit shall be distributed to the 6,296 original FWBs,”

But more than that, according to Mendoza, the SC decision lacks any sense of social justice given that one of the main reasons why it junked the SDO’s is that the FWBs would never have a chance to be majority shareholders in HLI. So why would the SC penalize them for not receiving a single centavo by a decision by the majority stockholders like the Cojuangcos and Aquinos in selling 580.51 has. of land for P5 billion?

There was also no explanation made by the SC when it said “that the legitimate corporate expenses of HLI for the years 1998 up to 2011, coupled with the taxes and expenses related to the sale of the 3% share already distributed to the FWBs, far exceeded the proceeds of the sale of the adverted 580.51-hectare lot. Thus, it said there is no more unused proceeds that should be given out to the FWBs.”

Mendoza stated that HLI is one of only several companies of the Cojuangco-Aquino families and it could have conveniently rechanneled the P1.33 billion share of the FWBs to said companies.

These include the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), CAT Resource and Assets Holdings, Inc (CRAHI), Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) which is now Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) and Agrikulto Inc.

Fifty one percent of CAT was sold by the Cojuangcos-Aquinos to Martin Lorenzo. CAT also owns LLC and Agrikulto Inc. CAT’s sale in 2014 is seen as a push to further evade land distribution and scrutiny of the Aquino-Cojuangcos’ sullied assets.

The SC could have stated that these related companies should pay the FWBs what is rightfully theirs.

Other than that, Mendoza added that the SC now is controlled by President Duterte and the decision of the former only shows that the present regime is not sincere in genuine agrarian reform. The President even got rid of former DAR Secretary and KMP chairman emeritus Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, who is sincere in such a reform.

Among those that opposed his nomination as DAR secretary were the minions of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos in Hacienda Luisita. Others include officials of Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC), which is owned by Martin Lorenzo’s family. Sara Duterte’s husband, Manases Carpio is one of LFC’s legal counsel and the President’s daughter also opposed Ka Paeng’s nomination.

Ka Paeng revoked an Aug. 14, 1996, DAR order to classify at least 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita as an industrial area which would exempt these from land reform and ordered 384 hectares of these to be distributed to the FWBs.

Up to now, this has not yet been implemented. The Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo feared that Ka Paeng would also put under CARP 330 hectares of CAT’s property which it claims is not used for business and operations.

Recently, however, CAT sold 338 hectares of its lands to Ayala Land to transform it intoits regional Ayala Center.

Mendoza added that there is no other choice then but to rally the FWBs against this unjust decision of the SC and the continued control of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos and even the Lorenzos of the lands in the Hacienda.

He concluded by saying that this is another blow to the credibility of the SC which is now controlled by President Duterte and predicted that many peasants and other democratic classes in Philippine society would defy it if it continues to issue unjust decisions against the people.

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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

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)

Food crops destroyed by Aquino-Cojuangco minions in Hacienda Luisita

UNHOLY ATTACK. The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the ongoing destruction of food crops grown by farmworkers in their bungkalan areas or collective farms. The atrocities are perpetrated by known Cojuangco-Aquino minions.

Source: Food crops destroyed by Aquino-Cojuangco minions in Hacienda Luisita

#15yearsofBulatlat | Reporting on Luisita, ‘boldest, most comprehensive and consistent’

#15yearsofBulatlat: Sa pag-igting ng panloloko, pandarahas at pangangamkam ng hacienderong rehimen ni BS Aquino mula 2013, naging aktibo naman ang Bulatlat.com sa paglalabas ng mga ulat ng AMBALA-UMA at Luisita Watch, nang hindi kinakaligtaan ang responsableng pangangalap ng primaryang impormasyon at kumpirmasyon mula mismo sa erya, sa mga biktima o apektadong manggagawang-bukid, mga saksi at mga awtoridad.

Ang masugid na pagsubaybay, masinop na pagkalap ng mga datos, at napapanahong pagbabalita ng Bulatlat.com sa tampok na isyung ito ng mga magbubukid at mangagawang agrikultural mula noon hanggang ngayon ay walang duda na siyang pinakamahusay at masasabing “second to none.”

Source: #15yearsofBulatlat | Reporting on Luisita, ‘boldest, most comprehensive and consistent’

BS Aquino deploys tanks vs farmers to protect PPP in Luisita

The TSPP is the latest in the list of BS Aquino’s atrocities against Hacienda Luisita farmers under his term. The Supreme Court already ruled for total land distribution in 2012, but Aquino is clearly doing everything in his power – from brute force to hiding behind a supposed “environment-friendly” project to undermine the farmers’ legitimate demands for land and justice.

Source: BS Aquino deploys tanks vs farmers to protect PPP in Luisita