A total of 36 sakadas from Bukidnon filed labor complaints against their recruiters and employers Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative, Agrikulto Inc. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) at the National Labor Relations Office – Regional Arbitration Board (NLRC-RAB III) in San Fernando City last week, following their “rescue” from slave-like working conditions in […]
P-Noy’s Kamag-Anak, Kabarilan interests behind Luisita farmers’ sufferings
Presidential sister Kris Aquino trivializes the conditions of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita by laughing off the serious matter of government’s failure to address the peasants’ legitimate demands. Reacting to reports of farmers burning her effigy during a daring protest action Thursday, Kris even hinted that the farmers’ rage against the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ tyrannical feudal reign in the said sugar estate is but “part and parcel of life.”
Hundreds of farmers stormed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) compound on the second anniversary of the Luisita Supreme Court ruling to protest the Aquino government’s implementation of “hoax land distribution.” An effigy of Kris Aquino depicting her as a black catwoman — to symbolize her position as one of the directors of the CAT or the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill in Hacienda Luisita — was among those burned by angry Luisita farmers.
The CAT is among several corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquino family currently engaged in aggressive landgrab efforts. Last March, the CAT started evicting farmers from 214 hectares of agricultural lands found in Barangays Central, Mapalacsiao and Parang by bulldozing crops and fencing off these areas from the tillers.
Furthermore, the DAR’s supposed 87% land distribution accomplishment in Luisita is easily dispelled by the CAT’s uninterrupted control of sugarcane production. Cojuangco-Aquino financier-dummies such as P-Noy Kabarilan Virgie Torres have forged illicit lease agreements victimizing cash-strapped farmworkers. Torres’ transactions cover at least 200 hectares of land purportedly awarded to beneficiaries by the DAR.
Kris cannot escape accountability by candidly brushing aside her family’s grave crimes against Luisita farmers. Her denial of any responsibility by claiming that she has already left the CAT exposes her insensitivity and indifference to relentless violent attacks wrought by her family to Luisita farmworkers. The media and the public can always peruse records at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to confirm that Kris is still an active member of the CAT’s board of directors. In fact, Kris and the rest of President BS Aquino’s sisters all have business interests in Hacienda Luisita, according to SEC records. Aside form Kris, all the other Aquino sisters are stockholders of the CAT.
Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz is also the treasurer of the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), which is currently involved in the relentless spate of harassment, unlawful arrests and violent eviction of farmworker-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita. Ballsy is also a member of the board of directors of the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) where the two other Presidential sisters Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee sit as top stockholders. The LRC is behind the illegal Luisita Ecozone Project which is the cause of TADECO and CAT’s aggressive land grab efforts. If completely implemented, this project may cause the wipe-out of the whole agricultural community of Hacienda Luisita.
President BS Aquino cannot escape accountability for the land reform travesty in Hacienda Luisita. Despite having allegedly divested himself of all his Luisita shares, the public cannot but conclude that the President is actively protecting the interests of his family members, as he is perpetually indebted to them as his campaign contributors.
BS Aquino’s 2010 campaign kitty was bankrolled by his sisters Kris (Php 15M), Pinky (Php 5M) and Ballsy (Php 3M), and other members of the Cojuangco-Aquino “Kamag-Anak, Inc.” such as Luisita kingpin Peping Cojuangco’s daughter Josephine Guingona (Php 5M), also a director of the LRC; and TADECO stockholder Josephine Reyes (Php 5M), who also represent the clan’s big landlord interests to retain control of Hacienda Luisita. “Bobo lang ang maniniwala na wala nang interes si Noynoy sa Luisita,” said an angry farmer interviewed by a major TV station during the farmers’ DAR siege.
Kris seems ecstatic to see herself in the same league as US President Barack Obama whose effigies are burned by indignant peoples oppressed by US imperialism. Without land and justice for Luisita farmers, and with her brother President BS Aquino now acting as top agent of US imperialism in the country, her “Massacre Queen” title spawned by her mediocre acting in her early movies may well begin to stick to the Cojuangco-Aquino family – the country’s “Massacre Royalty” perpetuating impunity, despotic landlordism and feudal bondage in Tarlac and the rest of the Philippine countryside as evidenced by the Mendiola Massacre, the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and the bloody implementation of Cory’s bogus land reform via the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).##
Farm workers of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) said today that Kris Aquino, like the rest of the members of the board of directors of the Cojuangco-Aquino-controlled Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), should be liable for any criminal infringement related to the ongoing violent bulldozing and fencing off of 214 hectares of agricultural lands in barangays Mapalacsiao and Parang in Hacienda Luisita.
The Presidential sister successfully pursued a seat on the CAT board just last October, a move many perceived not only as palpable consolidation of Cojuangco-Aquino influence in Hacienda Luisita but also as preperation for the media celebrity’s gubernatorial bid in Tarlac for the coming 2016 elections.
“The continued aggressive claim of CAT and other corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquinos on the lands that supposedly belong to the actual tillers speaks much of the Presidential family’s anti-peasant practices and could in fact gravely affect Kris Aquino’s political ambitions in Tarlac,”said AMBALA chairperson Florida Sibayan.
The bulldozing and fencing efforts of armed CAT security personnel in Mapalacsiao and Parang have been intermitently causing tension in the area since March 5 and are believed to be part of a larger land-grabbing scheme by the poweful Cojuangco-Aquino clan involving around a thousand hectares. Several hundreds of hectares in fact have alrady been secured by another Cojuangco-Aquino company, the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), in barangay Balete after a series of violent attacks by TADECO guards and Tarlac PNP men against Balete farm workers which started last December.
These lands, AMBALA has been consistently asserting, have been excluded from the total area of distributable Hacienda Luisita lands through the cunning manuevers of the Cojuangco-Aquino and with the complicity of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). According to Sibayan, these lands must be covered by the DAR for distribution as per the explicit provision of the Hacienda Luisita Supreme Court ruling of April 24, 2012 which instructs the DAR to find all other agricultural lands besides the 4,915 hectares officially declared distributable.
The lands meanwhile which has been supposedly included in the land distribution process, according to AMBALA, have not yet been physically awarded to the so-called Luisita farm worker beneficiaries. These lands are instead being usurped and controlled by sugar cane production financiers who are said to be mere pawns themselves of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
“The unabated agrarian unrest in Hacienda Luisita is escalating in a pace comparable to that of the tension which led to the tragic Hacienda Luisita massacre ten years ago, the main perpetrators of which, the family of Kris Aquino and the Philippine president himself, have yet to be prosecuted much less punished,” said Sibayan.
Ranmil Echanis, secretary general of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and one of the convenors of the Luisita Watch network, said that “the land distribution farce in Luisita and the unchecked violent bullying of the Cojuango-Aquinos only prove the bankruptcy of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms and thus the need to finally enact the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, a progressive legislation which landlord dynasties in Congress have long been opposing.”
Francisco Dizon, AMBALA-Mapalacsiao, Contact No. 09096645941