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)

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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

Bungkalan at Hacienda Luisita

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.

#LuisitaUpdate | Why did netizens revive a 4-year-old news item on Hacienda Luisita?

luisitaupdate

This past week, the news report “SupremeCourt votes 14-0 to redistribute Hacienda Luisita” which first appeared on November 24, 2011 at Interaksyon.com suddenly went viral, eliciting mostly hopeful reactions from netizens. One opinion columnist even referred to the news as an “early Christmas” treat for Luisita farmers.

Why did netizens revive this 4-year old news item on Hacienda Luisita? We suppose that it is public knowledge that Hacienda Luisita farmers are still fighting for genuine land reform and justice. Concerned citizens, however, may not be fully aware that it has been years since the SC’s unanimous decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita was made final and executory on April 24, 2012.

A closer look at the situation of the so-called “beneficiaries” will reveal that land distribution in Luisita under the BS Aquino regime has been a complete sham.

Paying attention to details of the Interaksyon.com video, one would realize that the areas where farmers are shown planting rice and cultivating vegetable plots are the same areas where farmers have been forcibly evicted in subsequent violent incidents from 2012 up to the present. Even the actual farmers interviewed in the story – Gary Gonzales and Anita Flores – have become victims displaced by police and military-assisted eviction from 2013 to 2014.

See this April 2014 UCAN news story showing farmer Gary Gonzales:

..and this Tudla newsreel dated November 2014 with farmer Anita Flores:

Agricultural areas shown in the Interaksyon video, located in Barangay Balete, Hacienda Luisita, are now fenced and heavily-guarded by private security personnel of Cojuangco-Aquino firm TADECO and LRC, and the Yuchengco-owned RCBC.

Only a few months after the Interaksyon.com report, from January to March 2012, a series of violent attacks in the RCBC area led to the unlawful arrest of several farmers. Other than this, it was a few days before Christmas in 2013 when crops and huts have been razed to the ground in the TADECO area. More atrocities, such as destruction of crops and property, burning of huts, unlawful detention of farmers including children, were reported in 2014.

Only last March, President BS Aquino signed a public-private partnership (PPP) project to construct the Tarlac Solar Power Plant in the said disputed areas. PetroSolar, the private firm tasked to implement the project with the Department of Energy is also owned by the Yuchengcos – the same Cojuangco-Aquino business partners claiming ownership of disputed lands through RCBC.

We stand with Luisita farmers fighting to stop further dislocation. Farmworkers have been consistently struggling alongside the people for genuine land reform and social justice.

We urge concerned citizens to closely monitor developments in Hacienda Luisita and join us in keeping the public informed of the most recent #LuisitaUpdate. For fresh news on the farmworkers’ struggle for land and justice, follow Luisita Watch on Twitter and visit our blog at www.luisitawatch.wordpress.com 

 

GI ESTRADA
Media Officer, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
uma.pilipinas@gmail.com

Follow @UMApilipinas on Twitter

 

#SONA2015 | Hacienda Luisita Under Aquino

FACT SHEET ICONPuro Panloloko, Pandarahas at Pangangamkam (full of deception, violence and landgrabbing) – this is how Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), the local affiliate of the national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) characterize the State of Hacienda Luisita under President BS Aquino. The president’s  Cojuangco-Aquino clan still controls the 6,453 hectare sugar estate.

Like his mother Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, President BS Aquino promised social justice and land reform in Hacienda Luisita as part of his electoral campaign. But Aquino’s actions speak differently. The Luisita Watch network was formed in 2014 to document government’s sham land distribution and the worsening human rights situation in Hacienda Luisita. Will these be mentioned in Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address on July 27?

champo

THE LANDMARK SUPREME COURT DECISION

After years of struggle, Hacienda Luisita farmers were favoured finally by the Supreme Court with its November 2011 landmark decision for total land distribution and revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme, which was subsequently affirmed in a final and executory ruling on April 24, 2012.

This hard-earned victory of the farmers was met with active opposition and maneuvering from the Aquino-Cojuangco camp led by President Aquino himself. Only a few months into his presidency, in 2010, during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments, the Aquino-Cojuangcos pushed for a compromise deal, to make it appear that farmers still wanted the oppressive SDO scheme in place. Aquino only gave a token statement that he was divesting his shares in the estate, and did nothing to stop his relatives from coercing and deceiving the farmers.

President BS Aquino’s 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 was the principal proponent of the 2012 SC decision to distribute Hacienda Luisita. Aquino boasts of the Corona conviction as a major accomplishment of his “Daang Matuwid,” but the trial later appeared 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.

tambiolo

SHAM LAND REFORM

The implementation of the landmark Supreme Court decision is marred with much violence, anomaly and controversy. AMBALA and UMA claim that land distribution in Hacienda Luisita is a sham for the following reasons:

  • Lot allocation through lottery drum (tambiolo) complemented reconcentration of land back to the landlords. Physical land distribution superseded by the illicit and rampant lease and purchase deals led by Aquino-Cojuangco dummies and other land speculators through disinformation, deception and coercion. Ex-LTO Chief Virginia Torres, a close Aquino ally, is one of the major “aryendadors” with hundreds of hectares of land from supposed beneficiaries.
  • The imposition of compulsory signing of promissory notes (Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking) to ensure amortization payments. Luisita farmers are clamoring for free land distribution, a just demand given the history of the estate.

dzbb

  • The inept facilitation of the audit of P1.33 billion in assets that HLI and Centenary Holdings acquired from the sale of agricultural land and the inaction on farm workers’ appeal for the revocation of a conversion order covering 500 hectares. A solar power public-private partnership (PPP) project is now in place between the Department of Energy and PetroGreen, a firm also owned by the Yuchengcos of RCBC, HLI’s successor-in-interest in the disputed 500-hectare property.
  • The deceit and coercion of beneficiaries through false statements and excessive use of armed state forces during the so-called distribution process.

policeguards

  • The exclusion of hundreds of hectares of agricultural land from distribution, thus causing confusion and dispute among beneficiaries, and dislocation, too. The exclusion of other lands for distribution, such as what Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC), Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and many other corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquinos is grabbing at present even though the DAR, under its mandate, should subject other agricultural lands in the area to agrarian reform.
  • The purported sale of the sugar mill, Central Azucarera de Tarlac to businessman Martin Lorenzo in 2014 is seen as a push to further evade land distribution and scrutiny of the Aquino-Cojuangcos’ sullied assets. The Aquino-Cojuangcos, through Don Pedro Cojuangco’s son, Fernando, remain major stockholders of CAT and a new holding company, the CAT Resource and Assets Holdings, Inc (CRAHI). After widespread retrenchment of workers in the sugar mill “under new management,” Luisita residents fear that land use conversion and the unhampered entry of “development projects” will lead to dislocation of the farming community.

 10 YEARS, NO JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF THE HACIENDA LUISITA MASSACRE

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. President BS Aquino, a congressman and active administrator of the estate during the November 2004 massacre, is one of the respondents in the case. Aquino and other civilian respondents 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 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 effort to conduct a more thorough investigation. Copies of the resolutions did not reach most of the complainants and their lawyers. On August 4, 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 2014. A copy of the controversial NBI report, which explicitly states that there is cause to file charges against armed state officers on the scene, was only made public after the Ombudsman junked the appeal to reopen the case.

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.

IMPUNITY IN HACIENDA LUISITA

r3

Rights violations in Hacienda Luisita peaked during the sham land distribution process from 2013  to 2014. Farmers filed hundreds of counter-charges before the DOJ against the Aquino-Cojuangcos and their minions in January, March and October 2014 but the DOJ has yet to act on any of the complaints until now.

Recent human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita were presented by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) during the recently concluded International People’s Tribunal (IPT) held in Washington DC from July 16-19. President BS Aquino was found GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Violations (2010-2015) # Incident # Victims Details
Extra-judicial killing (EJK) 1 1 Dennis dela Cruz, AMBALA, killed October 31, 2013
Frustrated EJK 3 6 March 2012 (RCBC), 2 incidents in March 2014 (Brgy. Cutcut)
Torture / Mauling 9 30+
Illegal Arrest and Detention 9 28
Trumped-up Charges 22 189
Destruction of Crops/Property Bulldozing of crops / destruction of huts / looting of produce, farm tools & animals

2013 – October – December – Bgy Balete (260 hectares)

2014 – Jan;  Feb 8; Mar 27; June 25; August 5 – Bgys. Balete,Cutcut, Mapalacsiao, Asturias

Burning of huts – Feb 8, 2014 (BS Aquino’s birthday) – Bgy. Balete

Theft/ Violation of of Domicile
Arson
Threat, Harassment, Intimidation too many AMBALA leaders, members, whole communities (10 barangays) before 2012 SC decision & during militarized land distribution activities in 2013

patalsikin

The state of farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita reflects the situation of the Philippine peasantry under Aquino. Landlessness and impunity is the reason why organized farmers reject another extension of the flawed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and call for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB or House Bill 252).  Despite the odds, farmers in Hacienda Luisita strive to pursue their land cultivation campaign bungkalan.  For the farmers, Hacienda Luisita alone is one glaring and compelling argument for President Aquino’s ouster.

Luisita farmworkers join peasants in fast for land, justice and peace

popekmp
Farm workers of Hacienda Luisita today joined other peasants in a two-day fasting for land, justice and peace coinciding with Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. The farmers will begin fasting at the Liwasang Bonifacio Kampuhan, before a scheduled Pagsambang Bayan (People’s Mass) at the same venue at 10 am.
“We hope to reach the Pope’s attention so that he could give his support to the peasant struggle for genuine land reform,” said Rudy Corpuz of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA). The Roman Catholic Church espouses land reform in its Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
In No. 300 of the said Compendium, it states, In some countries a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable, in order to overcome the obstacles that an unproductive system of latifundium (hacienda) — condemned by the Church’s social doctrine — places on the path of genuine economic development.
Despite a 2012 Supreme Court ruling for total land distribution, farmers claim that Hacienda Luisita is still controlled by President Aquino’s family. Tillers have been cultivating farm lots in Luisita after the Hacienda Luisita sugar workers’ strike in 2005, but the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) awarded these to other farmers via a lottery drum (tambiolo) raffle in 2013, thus causing conflict among the “farmworker-beneficiaries.”
Also, more than a thousand hectares of agricultural land in Luisita were deliberately excluded from this distribution process and fenced off from farmers through outright deception, intimidation and violence. The Cojuangco-Aquino family utilized the DAR itself in the bulldozing of crops and eviction of farmers with the assistance of the police, military and the private security personnel and goons.
“We have lost our faith in authorities,” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson. Sibayan is a survivor of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre. Under Aquino, the Luisita massacre case was denied due process twice. All the perpetrators were cleared of charges in 2010 and the victims’ plea to reopen investigation was denied in October 2014.
Other than those from Hacienda Luisita, those who joined the fast included farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) from the Yulo King Ranch in Palawan, Tungkong Mangga in San Jose Del Monte Bulacan and Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga. Farmers in these three areas which comprise more than 40,000 hectares experience outright landgrabbing either by the state or private entities close to top government officials.   

At the Pagsambang Bayan ecumenical service, Luisita farmers will present their produce of organically-grown red rice as offertory. The red rice from their bungkalan land cultivation campaign is a strong symbol of their defiance against land grabbing and the sugarcane monocrop system in Luisita.

The peasants’ fast and Pagsambang Bayan are part of activities of the People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope (People’s Welcome). This network is composed of poor and oppressed sectors of Philippine society including local and migrant workers, the urban poor, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders.

Sibayan: “We fervently hope that the Pope express his solidarity with us in our struggle for genuine land reform and social justice. Pope Francis, Pope of the Poor, stand with us for land, justice and peace!”