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 […]
We’ve heard this story before: the farmworkers who cut and haul cane in this controversial sugar estate earn only P9.50 a day as ‘stockholders’ of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. The thousands who have had enough of this oppression decided to strike. This happened more than 12 years ago. Fastforward to 2017. Mario Bagnaran, 58, a farmworker […]
Hundreds of sakadas or migratory sugar workers recruited from Mindanao have become victims of a giant human trafficking scam when they were brought to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac to work during the kabyaw or annual sugar harvest and milling season which started in November 2016. Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of the national […]
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!
Karaoke video version of “Aklasan” song by KARATULA, based on the poem by labor leader and national artist Amado V. Hernandez. Video by Sipat with footage from the Hacienda Luisita strike of 2004.
In commemorating the 10th year anniversary of the start of the historic strike in Hacienda Luisita by farm and mill workers on November 6, 2004, the militant Anakpawis Partylist said in a statement that justice for the victims of the violent dispersal dubbed as “Hacienda Luisita massacre” that took place 10 days later is “impossible” under the administration of president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“Sa ilalim ni Aquino, kung saan may malaking impluwensya at kontrol ang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino sa mga ahensya at institusyon, makikitang imposibleng mabigyang hustisya ang mga biktima ng masaker sa kanyang termino,” [Under Aquino, where his family enjoys immense influence and control over gov’t agencies and institutions, it is apparent that justice would remain elusive under his term,] said Anakpawis Partylist Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap.
Anakpawis said that the Hacienda Luisita issue had its roots to the centuries-old feudal problem that consequently led to the impoverished state of the farm workers compelling them to wage the strike in 2004. In 1989, former president Corazon Aquino who promised to distribute the 6,453-hectare sugar lands to the farm workers had instead covered it under the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), particularly section 32 or its provision of stock distribution option (sdo). In more than a decade of being under the sdo scheme, farm worker beneficiaries (fwbs) suffered even worse socio-economic conditions that later pushed them to go on strike in 2004 to demand for land distribution.
“Nagsilbing instrumento ang CARP at sdo ng pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino upang sila ay kumita nang malaki habang nagtiis sa hirap at gutom ang mga manggagawang bukid tulad ng pag-uwi ng arawang sahod na P9.50,” [CARP and sdo served as instruments to benefit the Cojuangco-Aquino family while farm workers faced poverty and hunger as demonstrated by their daily take-home pay that amounted to P9.50,] said Hicap.
On November 10, 2004, then-labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gov’t issued an assumption of jurisdiction (aj) which practically served as “license” to violently disperse the picket line. Truckloads of government state forces were immediately deployed and on November 16, striking farm workers were fired upon resulting in the killing of 7, namely Jun David, Jhaivie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Jessie Valdez, Juancho Sanchez, Adriano Caballero Jr. and Jaime Pastidio, and the wounding of more than a hundred.
“Ang kutsabahang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino at Arroyo na gumamit ng aj ang nagbigay ng ‘go signal’ para pagbabarilin ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawang bukid, kaya malaki ang kanilang utang na dugo sa pamilya ng mga biktima at hanggang ngayon ay walang hustisyang naigagawad,” [The collusion between the Cojuangco-Aquino family and Arroyo which utilized the aj, gave the “go signal” for the gov’t forces to open fire at the striking farm workers, thus, they have a huge blood debt to the families of the victims and until now justice is yet to be served,] Hicap said.
The farm workers filed criminal charges against then-congressman Aquino and his relatives which were dismissed by the Ombudsman on July 2005.
“Habang busy ang mga alyado ni Aquino sa hacienda Binay, magsasampung taon na ang kawalang hustisya sa kanya mismong hasyenda, wala na tayong maaasahan sa ganitong gubyerno, kaya, ang hustisya ay posible lamang kapag tapos na ang kanyang pagkapangulo,” [While the Aquino’s allies are busy dealing with hacienda Binay, injustice within his own hacienda is nearing a decade-old, we have nothing to hope for this kind of gov’t, hence, justice is only possible when Aquino’s presidency is over,] Hicap said. ###
Statement by Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), November 6, 2014
Marking the 10th year of the start of the historic strike in Hacienda Luisita, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the Cojuangco-Aquino clan for continuing to deny land and justice to the farm workers, saying the clan is behind one of the biggest land scams in recent Philippine history.
The labor group said the strike, which fought for higher wages and condemned the non-implementation of land reform in the 6,453-hectare estate, was met with violence –with a massacre on November 16 which killed seven people and the succeeding extra-judicial killings and harassment of land reform advocates.
“Today we mark the 10th anniversary of the just and historic strike at Hacienda Luisita. We continue to rail against the Cojuangco-Aquino clan for the low wages, denial of land reform, and brutal suppression of the peasants of Luisita and their supporters,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader recalled that Pres. Noynoy Aquino, who was a congressman when the massacre occurred, defended the massacre at the floor of the House of Representatives against criticisms made by labor leader Crispin Beltran, who was representative of Anakpawis Partylist at the time.
He also recalled that Aquino promised to distribute Luisita’s lands to farmers during the campaign for the 2010 presidential elections, but immediately unseated former Chief Justice Renato Corona for leading the Supreme Court in ruling that the hacienda’s lands be distributed to farm workers.
“Noynoy Aquino has played a leading role in the continuing denial of land and justice to the farm workers of Luisita. He has led his family in perpetuating one of the biggest land scams in recent Philippine history and has consistently been anti-farmer and anti-poor,” Labog added.
KMU vowed to join the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, and the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita in holding protests to mark the 10th anniversary of the Luisita farm workers’ strike and the Hacienda Luisita massacre.
“We will continue to fight for genuine land reform and the abolition of all haciendas in the country, especially of Hacienda Luisita. The violence being inflicted on the Luisita farm workers and the deception being foisted on the public only add to the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ crimes against farmers and all Filipinos,” Labog stated.
Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
“The case of Hacienda Luisita reflects the hypocrisy of the Aquino government—all these talks about land reform, ‘kayo ang boss ko’ and righteous path. If there’s one thing that succinctly describes the government’s double talk, it’s Hacienda Luisita,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
A decade ago today, November 6, farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita launched a strike against the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita, Inc. Some 5,000 farmworkers, all members of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) were joined by about 700 sugar mill workers under the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU).
“The struggle of the peasants and workers of Hacienda Luisita deserves public attention because it embodies how generations of landlord-bureaucrats used law and terror to further exploit and oppress the farmworkers and to keep the almost 6,500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita all to themselves,” said Palabay.
The farmworkers’ strike was a culmination of a series of actions they took to address the joblessness and other ploys the Cojuangco-Aquinos used to keep the hacienda workers’ wages low. “Today, we also remember the Php 9.50 a day wage that the farmworkers were getting from the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Some were even getting Php 9.50 a week,” added Palabay.
The strike ended in what is now known as the Hacienda Luisita massacre, which led to the death of seven people, 121 seriously injured and hundreds of farmworkers arrested. Since then, terror inside the Hacienda has not stopped.
A documentation made by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the Yellow Army, maintained by the Conjuanco-Aquinos in the 1980s, was replaced by the Luisita Estate Management after the massacre. The LEM tapped the military to sow terror in the Hacienda.
When BS Aquino assumed presidency, AFP troops were deployed in the Hacienda, aside from the presence of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). There are military detachments of the 701st IBPA in 10 villages of Hacienda Luisita.
“The state forces are involved in harassment, mauling, and arrests of farmworkers, burning of farm houses, destruction of fields planted with vegetables and other crops, indiscriminate firing, aside from the continuing legal maneuvers to evade Supreme Court’s decision to distribute the lands to the farmers. BS Aquino should be held accountable for all these violations,” said Palabay.
by FLORIDA SIBAYAN, AMBALA
What kind of message is the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz sending to the public in conferring unprecedented distinction to the Luisita Industrial Park – a hub widely-known to be part of the still dispute-ridden and controversial Hacienda Luisita estate?
While it is up to the workers themselves in the Luisita Industrial Park (LIP) to contest the ostentatious designation made by the DOLE in naming the LIP as the very first “Labor Law Compliant Eco-zone” in the country, this does not belie the fact that aggressive land grabbing and brazen human rights violations are continuously being perpetrated by the LIP administration under the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC).
The LRC is one among the many notorious corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Hacienda Luisita, where presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz is director while Pinky Aquino-Abellada and Viel Aquino-Dee sit as top stockholders.
DOLE’s conferment may be used to prop up the LRC’s pending application before the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (PEZA) Board to incorporate 260.4 hectares of agricultural land in Barangay Balete, Luisita to the existing Luisita Industrial Park complex. The PEZA granted the LRC a pre-qualification clearance on February 13, 2014, barely a week after the Cojuangco-Aquinos ordered the burning of farmers’ homes and the bulldozing of crops within the contested property.
Another Cojuangco-Aquino firm, Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) ordered the aggressive attacks against Hacienda Luisita farmers in Balete. Violent eviction of farmers, bulldozing of ready-to-harvest palay crops and fencing off of the 260-hectare area from its tillers continued even after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) affirmed the agricultural nature of the said property by issuing a Notice of land reform coverage (NOC) on December 17, 2013. The DAR did not lift a finger to stop TADECO’s assaults against Luisita farmers.
The headquarters of the 31st company of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion of the Philippine Army was constructed within this 260-hectare area last year with the blessings of the LRC. Soldiers have, since then, been practically deployed to serve in the Cojuangco-Aquino private army, intermittently mobilized to harass and evict farmers from the area. Bulldozers of the Cojuangco-Aquino family which were used to destroy farmers’ crops and homes are usually parked right beside the army headquarters.
In successive incidents from September 2013 to March 2014, TADECO was able to evict tillers even without a court order through the deployment of private security guards, local police and fully-armed SWAT teams. The attacks resulted in the death of one of our members, Dennis dela Cruz, several cases of mauling, attempted murder and unlawful arrest, and the filing of harassment suits against hundreds of farmers.
Personnel – thugs – hired by the Cojuangco-Aquino family from the Great Star Security Agency, one of the Luisita Industrial Park’s subcontractors, are directly responsible for the violent attacks against farmers in Barangays Balete and Cutcut. Great Star Security Services, Inc. was also declared compliant with General Labor Standards and issued Certificates of Compliance (CoC) yesterday, October 1, in a high-profile ceremony at the LIP compound which was graced by Baldoz herself.
Security guards from the Great Star Security Services Inc. are also involved in the shooting of a group of farmers in disputed farmlands in Barangay Maimpis, San Fernando, Pampanga on July 28, 2014. It seems that violation of human rights is their forte.
The Cojuangco-Aquinos are hell-bent on maintaining control of the Luisita estate and in implementing their grand master plan to convert the sugar plantation into a giant commercial hub, in contempt and complete reversal of the 2012 Supreme Court decision for total land distribution.
Ten years after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, Luisita farmers are still denied land and justice. President BS Aquino’s alter-egos like Baldoz of DOLE and Gil delos Reyes of DAR, act like extensions of this insatiable landlord family in ruthlessly extracting every last drop of blood, sweat and tears from Luisita farmworkers.
FLORIDA SIBAYAN, AMBALA Chairperson
Contact Number: 09293201477
THE YEAR 2014 MARKS THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INFAMOUS HACIENDA LUISITA Massacre. In November 16, 2004, seven farmworkers were killed while hundreds of others were injured and unlawfully arrested after police and military personnel opened fire on thousands of striking sugar workers near the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) mill in Hacienda Luisita – the controversial 6,453-hectare estate controlled for nearly five decades by one of the Philippines’ most powerful landlord families, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. The current Philippine President, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III is a fifth generation scion of the Cojuangcos.
Survivors and kin of the victims filed criminal and admistrative complaints against massacre perpetrators before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2005, but all complaints have since been dismissed. Until now, NOBODY has been held liable for the massacre. Today, despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling on land distribution, thousands of farmworkers still struggle with landlessness, poverty, hunger and impunity. Gross human rights violations related to land grabbing and the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ aggressive bid to retain control of the estate continue unabated.
Luisita Watch, the Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network, with people’s organizations AMBALA (Hacienda Luisita Farmworkers Alliance) and the national farmworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), and human rights group KARAPATAN – will lead the campaign to commemorate the 10th year of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre (HLMX) by advancing the struggle for genuine land reform and actively seeking justice for all victims of human rights violations and impunity in Hacienda Luisita.
Sept 3 – 40th day mass and Tribute to Leticia “Apong Let” Lapuz (November 30, 1945- July 25, 2014), Hacienda Luisita farm worker, unionist, activist and poet
Sept 14 – Launching of People’s Initiative Against Pork Barrel in Hacienda Luisita
Sept 16 – Special Book Launch of “Mga Tula” (Poems) by renowned poet Gelacio Guillermo (born 1940 in Hacienda Luisita) 6 pm at the Handuraw Sikatuna, Anonas Extension, Quezon City
Oct 16 – Tribute to Luisita Martyrs – Commemoration of the death anniversaries of Bishop Alberto Ramento (killed Oct 3, 2006), Bayan-Muna Central Luzon Secgen Florante Collantes (killed Oct 15, 2005), Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union President Ricardo Ramos (killed Oct. 25, 2005) and AMBALA bungkalan leader Dennis dela Cruz (killed October 31, 2013)
Oct 17-18 – Peasant Women International Fact-Finding Mission at Hacienda Luisita spearheaded by Amihan and UMA.
Nov 15- 16 – HLMX: Commemoration of the 10th year of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre