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 […]
People’s Cultural Caravan for Land, Justice & Peace
12th Year Commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre
November 14-16, 2016
You and/or your organization may participate in the scheduled activities or initiate events (forum, film viewing, ecumenical service, exhibit, cultural night, solidarity gathering, fund-raising, etc.) to support the campaign.
November 16 is marked every year as National Day of Protest of Farmworkers and Agricultural Workers and International Day of Action Against Trade Union Repression. On this day 12 years ago, seven protesters were killed and hundreds of others were seriously injured in the state’s violent dispersal of the massive sugar workers’ strike in Hacienda Luisita.
Twelve years after the Hacienda Luisita massacre, the victims continue to seek justice. Farmworkers assert their land rights through the BUNGKALAN land cultivation campaign and by forging wider cooperation and collective effort among their ranks. Luisita farmers continue to fight for land and life.
The resumption of peace talks, between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front (NDF), also brings hope to Luisita farmers. The talks could positively address the roots of armed conflict and put an end to the scourge of state violence in peasant communities such as Hacienda Luisita –militarization, political killings and various rights violations all in the name of “counter-insurgency.”
For the 12th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre, farmworkers and their supporters will launch a 3-day Cultural Caravan to rekindle the lessons of the historic People’s Strike. Inspired by the militant tradition of sugar workers in Escalante, Negros Occidental, a theatrical reenactment of the Luisita Massacre will also be mounted to impart mass-oriented values and principles, and to memorialize the sacrifice of Luisita’s martyrs in the struggle for land and justice. Farmworkers must continue to strengthen their unity for genuine land reform, and forge broader solidarity with various sectors such as church people, the academe, agricultural experts, professionals, artists, writers and cultural workers. The youth must carry forward this decades-long struggle by planting the seeds of change for the next generation of Luisita farmers.
The Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) will lead these activities with various militant people’s organizations such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Luisita Watch, a broad network of supporters of the farmers’struggle for land and justice.
SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES
CARAVAN FROM QUEZON CITY TO TARLAC CITY
Assembly Point Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) QC
Target Stops with Short Program and Cultural Presentations:
NOLCOM (San Miguel, Tarlac City)
CONCERT FOR LAND JUSTICE & PEACE
Maria Cristina Plaza, Tarlac City
CARAVAN FROM TARLAC CITY TO HACIENDA LUISITA
Land Preparation & Tree Planting in different Luisita barangays
Interaction with Luisita farmers
12th ANNIVERSARY OF THE HACIENDA LUISITA MASSACRE
#RememberLuisita SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION DAY
MARCH TO GATE 1, CENTRAL AZUCARERA DE TARLAC
THEATRICAL REENACTMENT OF THE LUISITA MASSACRE
OCTOBER 1, 2016 — In a moving testimony, Bernardina Bais recounted one misfortune after another since Hacienda Luisita was subjected to so-called “land distribution” under former President BS Aquino. A video of a distraught “Apong Dina” recently went viral online – she was crying her heart out as local policemen assisted in another attempt to […]
Agricultural workers under the national federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) added their voices to human rights defenders urging President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to drop Gen. Ricardo Visaya from the shortlist as new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). “Visaya deserves to be in jail with Aquino,” said UMA Secretary General […]
Latest Update from Hacienda Luisita
Posisyon ng AMBALA hinggil sa Proyektong Bungkalan sa loob ng binakurang lupa ng Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO):
1. Mahigit nang isang dekadang nakaposisyon ang mga manggagawang bukid sa loob ng 358 ektaryang sapilitan at marahas na binakuran ng Tarlac Development Corporation (sa Balete at sa Cutcut 2nd) noong September 2013 hanggang April 2014; Pag sinabing nakaposisyon, natatamnan na nila ito, nalilinang, at ginagawang produktibo, at nakapag-aambag sa ekonomiya ng mamamayan;
2. Batay sa orihinal na loan contract document, ang lahat ng agrikultural na lupa na natransfer sa TADECO mula sa TABACALERA ay dapat na maibalik sa mga magsasaka matapos ang 10 taon mula sa petsa ng pag-utang nila; kasama sa kabuuang lupa na dapat maibalik sa magsasaka itong mga binakuran ng TADECO sa barangay Balete at Cutcut 2nd;
3. Batay noong 1989 SDO, sa panunungkulan ng isang Presidenteng Cojuangco – Aquino, maanomalyang pinayagan ng DAR na maitakas ng mga Cojuangco Aquino ang mga lupa sa pamamagitan ng erroneous o maling pagklasipika ng mga lupa sa mga pangalang: Unproductive Lands, Agro-Forest, at Reserves; gayong ikinubli ng mga pangalang ito ang mga iligal na kumbersyon sa lupa na dapat sana ay pag-aari na ng mga manggagawang bukid kung naibigay sa kanila ang Hacienda Luisita noong 1967; itinago ng mga Cojuangco Aquino, ang pagbabawas ng sukat na ginawa na pala nilang Luisita Golf and Country Club, at Luisita Industrial Park, pati ang mga lupang inilipat nila sa Central Azucarera de Tarlac, gayong ang mga korporasyong ito ay pag-aari lang din naman ng mga Cojuangco- Aquino;
4. Batay sa April 24, 2012 na desisyon ng Korte Suprema, kinilala nito ang argumento ng mga manggagawang bukid hinggil sa mga lupa ng TADECO na maanomalyang hindi inilipat sa HLI, kaya may mahigpit itong bilin na: hanapin pa at ipamahagi ang iba pang agrikultural na lupa na pag-aari ng TADECO at bahagi ng tinatawag na Hacienda Luisita, na hindi nailipat sa HLI, lagpas pa sa 4,916 ektaryang lupa, ngunit nakapaloob sa orihinal na sukat na 6,443 ektarya;
5. Ang mga hawak ng TADECO na mga titulo diumano sa Brgy. Balete gaya ng TCT no. 408283 na may 83.7 hectares, TCT no. 408282 na may 35.9 hectares, at TCT no. 408279 na may 1.9 hectares ay parehas mula sa TCT no. 231161 na kapatid din lang naman ng mga TCT no. 231166 na may 61 hectares, TCT no. 231174 na may 19.2 hectares, TCT no. 231164 na may 22.3 hectares, at TCT no. 231183 na may 34.2 hectares na sa lahat-lahat ay aabot ng 258.2 hectares na siyang binakuran sa Brgy. Balete, ay mga anak lang din naman ng TCT no. 215100, na mula lang din sa TCT no. 205198, na higit pang matunton na anak din lang ng TCT no. 143015, na nanggaling sa TCT No. 138935, na nanggaling naman sa TCT No. 30413 na orihinal na TADECO Title sa kabuuang mga lupa ng Asyenda Luisita sa Tarlac City na mula lang din sa titulo ng TABACALERA na TCT No. 4173;
6. Gayundin, ang hawak na titulo ng TADECO sa halos 100 ektarya na marahas na binakuran sa Brgy. Cutcut 2nd ng mga Cojuangco – Aquino at ipinuslit na di ipamahagi, na TCT No. 400301 na may dalawang parsela ng lupa na ang isang parsela ay may sukat na 10.5 hectares at ang isa pang parsela na may sukat na 89.2 hectares, ay mula lang din naman sa TCT no. 240211, na anak lamang ng TCT No. 231197, na bahagi ng dating TCT No. 215101 na siyang anak na titulo ng TCT No. 205198 na anak ng din lang ng TCT no. 143015, na nanggaling sa TCT No. 138935, na nanggaling naman sa TCT No. 30413 na orihinal na TADECO Title sa mga lupa ng Asyenda Luisita sa Tarlac City na mula lang din sa titulo ng TABACALERA na TCT No. 4173;
7. Nagsampa ng kasong unlawful detainer ang TADECO sa mahigit 100 manggagawang bukid noong 2013, naipabasura ito ng mga manggagawang bukid, dahil kinilala ng lokal na korte, na wala naman talagang batayan ang kaso, ngunit kahit walang batayang legal para sa pagpapalayas, at walang anumang “court order” na may bisang magpalayas, kinasangkapan ng TADECO, ang posisyon sa gobyerno ng kaanak nitong Pangulo ng bansa, kaya epektibong na-command ang buong kapulisan ng Tarlac, pati AFP, para protektahan ang pang bubuldozer ng palay, panununog at pagwawasak ng kubo, pagpapalayas sa mga magsasaka, at pagbabakod;
8. Aabot ng 10 milyon piso ang kabuuang puhunan ng mga binuldozer na palay at gulay, kasama ang mga kubo na winasak. Aabot na din ng isang daang milyon mahigit, ang nawalang oportunidad sa ani, ngayong tatlong taon na nilang itiniwangwang ang lupa;
9. Patong-patong naman na gawa-gawang kasong kriminal ang isinampa ng TADECO sa mga manggagawang bukid, pati sa isang konsehal ng bayan ng Tarlac na taga Balete mismo, gayong usapin ito ng tunggalian ng karapatan sa lupa at hindi kasong kriminal dapat;
10. Habang may nakabinbin pang omnibus motion ang AMBALA na nakafile sa Supreme Court hinggil sa kabuuang pagkukuwestyon ng mga manggagawang bukid sa pamamaraan ng pamamahagi ng lupa sa Asyenda Luisita mula sa maanomalyang TAMBIOLO land reform, kasama ang usapin sa iligal na APFU, ang hindi umuusad na audit para masingil na ang 1.33 bilyong pisong utang ng mga Cojuangco Aquino, ang maanomalyang listahan ng mga benepisaryo na nagtanggal ng karapatan sa dapat na magkaroon ng lupa, ngunit nagbigay ng karapatan sa mga di karapat-dapat, at lalong higit sa pinaliit pang lalong sukat ng lupa na inilaan para sa pamamahagi sa mga benepisaryo sa Asyenda Luisita;
11. At nakabinbin din sa DOJ ang mga kaso na isinampa ng mga manggagawang bukid hinggil sa marahas na pagpapalayas sa kanila sa kanilang bukid na sinasaka, pati ang aktuwal na mga halaga ng sinirang pananim ng TADECO;
12. Mula nang mabakuran noong 2013 ang mga lupa sa Balete at Cutcut 2nd, hanggang sa kasalukuyan, nananatili itong agrikultural na lupa, na itiniwangwang lamang at pinabayaan ng TADECO.
Kaya, dahil sa mga nabanggit sa itaas:
1. Makatarungang isulong ng mga manggagawang bukid ng Asyenda Luisita ang Proyektong Bungkalan sa mga lupang agrikultural naman, kayang patunayan sa mga papel na bahagi ng dapat na maipamahagi pero hindi ipinamahagi, at ngayoy itinitiwangwang pa at iligal na kinakamkam ng mga Cojuangco Aquino;
2. Habang nakabinbin pa at dinidinig ang mga habol ng manggagawang bukid sa mga opisina ng mga ahensya at departamento gaya ng DOJ, at Korte Suprema, makataong hayaan munang magbungkal ang mga magsasaka, hindi naman permanenteng istruktura ang mga palay at gulay at mga pananim, hayaan munang gawing produktibo ang lupa, at magsilbi sa kumakalam na sikmura ng mamamayan;
3. Ipatupad na dapat ng DAR, nang matapat, ang binanggit na ng Korte Suprema sa desisyon nito noong April 24, 2012, na ayon sa mandato ng DAR, sa ilalim ng batas ng reporma sa lupa, na malaong ipasailalim para sa repormang agraryo ang iba pang agrikultural na lupaing dating hawak ng TADECO na hindi nailipat sa HLI ngunit dapat na sinaklaw ng RA 6657;
4. Napakalinaw na hindi hiwalay na isyu/hiwalay na lupa/o hiwalay na pamamahagi dapat ang mga bagong nabigyan ng NOC na lupa ng TADECO sa Brgy. Balete at Brgy. Cutcut 2nd. Mga lupa ito na bahagi ng 6,443 ektaryang lupain ng Asyenda Luisita, at napatunayang matabang lupang agrikultural pa, na ibig din sabihin ay istorikal at makatarungang pag-aari ng mga manggagawang bukid ng Asyenda Luisita;
5. Dapat pa nga na pagbayarin ng daang milyong pisong danyos ang TADECO at mga Cojuangco – Aquino sa walang kaluluwa nitong pambubuldozer sa mga gulay at palay at pangwawasak at panununog ng kubo, at pagpapalayas sa mga magbubukid nitong 2013 hanggang 2014 sa kabila ng belated na deklarasyon ng NOC ng DAR.
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.
Special feature by Luisita Watch
They wants it, they needs it. President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and kin continue to hold on to their “precious” Hacienda Luisita, the highly-controversial sugar estate in Tarlac province, Central Luzon which has been in the clutches of the Aquino-Cojuangco landlord clan since the late 1950s.
Like his mother former President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino, BS Aquino also promised social justice and land reform in Hacienda Luisita in his electoral campaign some six years ago. And just like those of his mother’s, BS Aquino’s actions have all proven flagrantly inimical to such promise. There’s enough reason in fact to believe he did everything in his powers to subvert the landmark Supreme Court (SC) ruling for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.
Farmworkers can be fairly blunt about it:Aquino’s purported land reform accomplishments in Hacienda Luisita are all freaking lies propagated by the president’s loyal and well-paid cabal of yellow zombies, trolls, and spin doctors. It is for this reason that land reform and human rights advocates saw the need to form the Luisita Watch network in 2014. Convened by the national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Luisita Watch took on the task of documenting and exposing the real score in Hacienda Luisita as far as the Luisita farmers’ continuing struggle for land and justice is concerned.
And so behind the barrage of official information from Malacanang and concerned government agencies, and being on hand to witness the enduring agrarian saga called Hacienda Luisita, what exactly did Luisita Watch find? Here’s a 10-point “how to hold on to your precious” list, enumerating how Aquino sort of morphed from a presumably harmless Smeagol at the start of his popular presidency into a bloodthirsty Gollum viciously trying to have his way against the “small people,”the farm workers who are fighting to reclaim Hacienda Luisita.
Pushing the Compromise Deal (2010)
BS Aquino’s first order of business as haciendero (landlord) president was to keep silent on his family’s sly maneuvers to bring the oppressive Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme back on track in Hacienda Luisita. Remember the SDO? It was when ‘lucky stockholders’ received the hideously paltry sum of Php 9.50 per day for the backbreaking task of cutting and hauling sugarcane.
In August 2010, acts of bribery and fraud led to the signing of the Hacienda Luisita “compromise deal” between the management of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) and a handful ex-union leaders who misrepresented the thousands of Luisita farmworkers as being amenable to bringing the despicable SDO back. BS Aquino immediately distanced himself from the controversy by giving a token statement that the matter was “intra-corporate dispute,” and that he had divested his shares in HLI after assuming the presidency in June 2010.
Farmworkers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), UMA, various multi-sectoral organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other support groups and alliances launched various mass actions to expose and oppose the compromise deal and subsequent evil maneuvers by the Aquino-Cojuangcos.
Securing the Corona Conviction (2012)
BS Aquino’s much hyped “anti-corruption” crusade to have former Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached and convicted is now widely seen as Aquino’s “first step” to retain control of Hacienda Luisita. Corona, a midnight appointee of despised former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was the principal proponent of the April 24, 2012 Supreme Court (SC) decision on Hacienda Luisita.
Corona was handed the guilty verdict in May, barely a month after the SC issued its final and executory decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.
Corona’s conviction has largely been hailed at the onset as a major accomplishment of his Daang Matuwid (Righteous Path) campaign. The trial however would soon be exposed as an ugly act of reprisal involving millions of taxpayers’ money coursed through the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) purportedly used by Aquino to bribe Senator-judges for an assured guilty verdict.
- Springboarding Oplan April Spring (2011-present)
Is anyone even aware that the HLI still owes their “stockholders” – the farmworkers – a staggering Php 1.33 billion? The audit of these assets – proceeds from the sale of 80 hectares traversed by SCTEX and a 500-hectare disputed property – is among the provisions of the 2012 SC decision. Of late, the SC has appointed three auditors to take on this job but HLI, DAR and the Aquino government have so far succeeded in delaying the process.
This kind of deception coupled with bribery and violence form part of Oplan April Spring, a special operations campaign to discredit the farmers’ struggle and to project the landlords as pro-poor and pro-development. This plan was hatched by the Aquino-Cojuangcos and RCBC, a Yuchengco-owned commercial bank claiming ownership of the disputed property.
From 2011 to 2013, security agents, goons and local police engaged in violent attacks to destroy the farmers’ bungkalan or land cultivation initiative in the area. After the ensuing barrage of threats, criminal suits and pay-offs, RCBC managed to fence off the property. A few local leaders succumbed to bribery, but the pressure only tempered the rest of the farmworkers to carry on with the fight.
Today, farmworkers continue to expose this unpaid debt amid the plan to build a solar power plant within the disputed RCBC property. This public-private partnership (PPP) project between the President, Department of Energy and Petrogreen, a sister company of RCBC, conceals landgrabbing behind a purportedly environment-friendly endeavor while ensuring further corporate profits at the expense of the displaced community.
- Toying with “Tambiolo” Land Reform (2013)
Only in Luisita: lot allocation through lottery drum (tambiolo) raffle, making fools out of farmworkers in a manner too crass to even be considered funny bythe makers of our favorite noon-time shows. The farce however which the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)brought to each of the ten Luisita villages could have passed for your usual government carnival if not for the fact that the road show also featured the intimidating presence of state forces in full battle gear – long firearms, fire trucks for dispersals, jail buses for arrests, the works. Farmworkers were practically made to participate at gunpoint.
The DAR enjoyed maximum logistical support and media mileage for BS Aquino’s land reform which has indeed been quite expeditious – expeditiously bogus, that is. More irregularities include:
- anomalous land survey and reduced land area allocated to beneficiaries;
- exclusion of a number of bonafide farmworkers in the final masterlist of beneficiaries and the underhanded insertion of names of unqualified ones;
- inept facilitation of the audit of Php 1.33 billion that HLI owes farmworkers;
- inaction on the coverage of all agricultural lands in Luisita claimed by TADECO, Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and other Cojuangco firms, including the appeal for revocation of a conversion order covering 500 hectares under RCBC, LIPCO and Lusita Realty Corporation (LRC).
- overpriced landlord compensation to the Aquino-Cojuangcos amounting to Php 451.7 million
- compulsory signing of promissory notes (Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking or APFU) to ensure amortization payments;
Luisita farmers are clamoring for free land distribution, a just demand given the history of the estate.
- Bulldozing: Landgrab Spree & Birthday Threats (2013-present)
Two days before Christmas 2013, Luisita farmworkers were picketing in front of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Macabulos in Tarlac City to demand the release of illegally arrested and detained farmers. When the farmers finally emerged from the facility, one was burning with fever, another was nursing a black eye. They were nabbed and slapped with physical injuries complaints but they were the ones clearly battered by authorities. A photo of a farmer being manhandled by police even went viral online, compelling mainstream press to temporarily dispense with the unwritten protocol of blacking out news on the continuing struggle for justice in Hacienda Luisita.
Weeks before, Aquino-Cojuangco goons employed by the Tarlac Development Corporation or TADECO fenced off a 260-hectare area in Balete village, destroying huts and bulldozing crops to forcibly evict farmers. The ‘landgrab spree’ did not end there. February 8, 2014, on the exact date of President BS Aquino’s birthday, worse atrocities were committed. Huts were burned, farm tools and animals looted, children were maltreated and detained, remaining crops were completely wiped out. In the months to come, even DAR employees and village officials were involved in violent incidents in other villages such as Cutcut, Asturias and Mapalacsiao.
The victims, ordinary farmers, peasant leaders and advocates were charged with false criminal complaints and harassment suits. The farmers did file counter-charges several times at the Department of Justice (DOJ), but these, as may be expected, have only gathered dust.
- Crowning the Aryendo Queen (2014 – present)
Even before the DAR’s implementation of ‘tambiolo’ land reform, the Aquino-Cojuangcos have already coerced farmers to enter into leaseback deals brokered primarily by the Luisita Estate Management (LEM), a group of ‘yellow agents’ and former HLI supervisors formed to thwart the farmers’ bungkalan. Subsequently, the chaos caused by the tambiolo scheme naturally complemented this maneuver to reconcentrate land back to the control of landlords. Instead of ensuring the farmers’ right to own and till, papers awarded to beneficiaries only served as collateral in the rampant unlawful leaseback operations called aryendo.
Yes, Virginia, illicit leaseback deals in Luisita have been so clandestinely complex and would have gone unnoticed by the public if not for…Virginia Torres. After Torres’s stint at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) was cut short by a viral video showing her playing the slot machine, the Casino Queen and Presidential Kabarilan (shooting buddy) was crowned by Aquino as “Aryendo Queen” of Hacienda Luisita. Torres set up her reign in Mapalacsiao village, where she controls at least 200 hectares for sugarcane production through measly lease offers of Php 7,500 a year to cash-strapped beneficiaries.Those who refused or got in her way faced the wrath of tractors razing farmers’ food crops to the ground.
Recently, Aquino and Torres inadvertently admitted to their collusion in the aryendo modus as they foolishly attempted to exonerate themselves from yet another scandal – sugar smuggling. The DAR’s sugar block farming program and its Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations or ARBO, are seen as fronts to conceal the aryendo and buying of farmlots. (Unfair land deals are practically legal with CARP, but that’s another story.)
- Burning Bridges with the Azucarera? (2014-present)
Presidential sister Kris Aquino at one time quite cheerfully told Luisita farmworkers that “they can burn her anytime.” As one of the directors of the CAT sugar mill, Krissy’s effigy was among those burned by angry farmworkers who stormed the DAR on April 24, 2014, two years after the sham implementation of the SC decision.CAT is one of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s “corporate avatars” engaged in landgrabbing. Kris was rather glad the effigy-burning put her, as she said, at par with US President Obama.The TV queen’s comparison may just have been right on the money— her family’s infamous legacy of strafing farmers with machineguns sounds equally disturbing as Obama’s policy of dropping bombs on villages via drones.
Kris and rest of the clan – Uncle Peping (Jose Cojuangco Jr ) and Aunt Tingting especially– would then make it appear that they no longer want anything to do with the azucarera. A few months after Kris got “burnt,” her family sold their shares to businessman Martin Lorenzo. Lorenzo established the CAT Resource and Asset Holdings, Inc. or CRAHI which also acquired shares from LRC, LIPCO and other such corporate incarnations of the Aquino–Cojuangco’s cacique avarice.
In May this year, almost 700 CAT workers were retrenched and forced to sign “voluntary retirement” papers due to new management policy. Lorenzo and Fernando Cojuangco, the Presidential cousin who remains at the helm of CAT, plan to further dispose of CAT and LRC’s land assets. Are the Cojuangcos really burning bridges with Hacienda Luisita? Or are they just, true to form,expertly covering up the tracks of these new instances of exploitation and further reducing the prospects for a truthful audit of their Php 1.33 billion debt to farmworkers?
- Greasing Luisita with DAP (2013-present)
Florencio “Butch” Abad must really be cherished by the Aquino-Cojuangcos. He was a DAR secretary during Cory’s time when SDO was imposed in Hacienda Luisita. As BS Aquino’s budget secretary, he is credited with inventing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)or what has also been known to the public as “presidential pork barrel” and which the SC has already declared unconstitutional.
From 2011 to 2013, Aquino and Abad, through the DAP, were able to pool in a mind-boggling Php 237 billion in so-called savings. From this amount, Php 144 billion became funds for projects while the rest drifted to pork barrel oblivion. Spending of these discretionary funds depended entirely on “good faith” and it was assumed that the people have actually entrusted this colossal amount of taxpayer’s money to this porky tandem.
So how much of DAP was used to grease Hacienda Luisita? Mudslinging among trapos (traditional politicians) revealed that acquiescent Senator-judges were supposedly allotted Php 50 million each to ensure the guilty verdict in the Corona impeachment. DAR later bared that Php 451.7 million landlord compensation granted to Aquino-Cojuangcos was also sourced from DAP. AquinodisbursedPhp 3.5 million in DAP for a small multi-purpose hall in Barangay Central, Hacienda Luisita, said to be a favor to his pet Barangay Captain Edgardo Aguas, also an alleged broker of the aryendo. Concreting of dirtroads are still in full swing in Luisita, a big help to sugar dummies and land speculators hoping to dupe more farmer-beneficiaries into entering illicit deals.
- Noynoying: Just Being His Haciendero Self
Nobody can effortlessly demolish the DaangMatuwid delusion via the Hacienda Luisita route better than BS Aquino himself. The President even earned the “Noynoying” tag from youth protesters in reference to his trademark sluggish response to issues of national importance. “Noynoying” even set the internet ablaze with nasty memes sharply critical of BS Aquino’s infamous ‘work ethic.’
Some militant quarters would point out however that “Noynoying”is not at all about passivity or just a state of affairs pertaining to BS Aquino unique brand of sloth or lack of sympathy. Noynoying, or just being his own haciendero self, is actually an out-and-out active performance of his duty to advance and protect the political and economic class interests of landlords, big business and foreign plunderers. We see this clearly from Luisita to Lianga, where peasants face state-sponsored landgrabbing, repression and killings.
Let’s look at government land reform policy. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which was enacted by Cory Aquino in 1988 finally expired after several failed extension programs on June 30, 2014, under the current BS Aquino regime. CARP enabled the oppressive SDO scheme then. CARP is now the DAR’s justification for “tambiolo” land reform. BS Aquino can always claim he can’t do anything about the bulldozing or the farmworkers’appeal for free land distribution – he’s just there to implement existing policy. That’s how he can go full “Noynoying” on land reform.
The result: after decades of bogus land reform, 9 out of 10 farmers are now landless, or tilling land they do not own.
- Murdering the Massacre Case (2010 & 2014)
The Hacienda Luisita massacre case filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, by more than 50 survivors and relatives in January 2005, was “murdered” twice under Aquino. BS Aquino, a congressman and active administrator of the estate during the November 16, 2004 massacre, is one of the respondents in the case. Aquino,and other civilian respondents such as former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, were immediately cleared of charges in July 2005.
The case against police and military respondents, however, was silently junked by the Ombudsman only a few months into BS Aquino’s presidency. The Ombudsman’s Military and Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) dismissed all charges against police and military respondents in December 2010, based solely on NBI reports and without any other efforts to conduct a more thorough investigation.
In August 2014, survivors and relatives of the victims filed a motion to reopen the case. The motion was junked only a few months later in October.
Instead of prosecution, military officials involved in the Hacienda Luisita massacre were given juicy promotions by BS Aquino. Recently retired AFP Chief, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, was one of the ground commanders during the violent dispersal, along with Gen. Ricardo Visaya who now holds the reins in the AFP Southern Luzon Command. Under Aquino, even hitmen went scot-free – Pfc. Roderick U. Dela Cruz, the soldier implicated in the killing of Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) President Ricardo Ramos in 2005, was acquitted in December 2013.
11 Years of Injustice and Impunity
It’s been eleven years since the Hacienda Luisita massacre of November 16, 2004. Without genuine land reform, farmworkers expect nothing but the perpetuation of injustice and impunity – landlessness, hunger, and brutal repression.
Our call to end impunity is just call absolutely independent of the mudslinging circus oppressors and dirty politicians busy themselves with towards the 2016 Presidential Elections. Luisita Watch has its eyes open only for truth, accountability and our unwavering support to the peasant struggle for genuine land reform and social justice!