“We should learn from history that the Cojuangco family acquired Hacienda Luista using public funds in 1957, consolidated their control by implementing the stock distribution option in 1989 putting the farmworkers into deep poverty and misery. Now, even with the high court’s decision, the Cojuangco-Aquinos continue to devise new schemes to sustain their control over vast lands,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl and Ambala said that the control of the Cojuangco-Aquino family was challenged by the farmworkers’ strike on November of 2004. They added that president Aquino’s family retaliated with the “massacre” licensed by the assumption of jurisdiction order issued by the labor department of the despised Arroyo government. With the relentless struggle of the farmworkers, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) was compelled to revoke the SDO plan in Hacienda Luisita. The Cojuangco-Aquinos blocked the said order by petitioning a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court. As the farmworkers’ struggle against SDO intensified with the support from different sectors snowballing, the high court decided to revoke the SDO on November of 2011, and set the valuation to 1989 prices on April of 2012.
“From the Cory Aquino regime to the Arroyo government, and until now, it is very clear that CARP failed to benefit the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita. There is no debate that CARP made the farmworkers to earn P9.50 per day and their struggle against the SDO is extremely justified,” Canlas said.
Amgl and Ambala said that CARP has only benefitted the Cojuangco-Aquino and its anti-farmer and pro-landlord provisions were exposed during the deliberation in the Supreme Court.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos failed to defend the SDO as it is evidently serving their interests. CARP provisions became useless as it does not convey the real essence of social justice. The court’s justices found nothing functional with the CARP provisions, thus, they have ordered the revocation of SDO and immediate distribution of lands,” Canlas said.
After the SC decision revoking the SDO, the Dept. of Agrarian Reform delayed the distribution by wasting its time to make up a new list of farmworker-beneficiaries. DAR under president Aquino has also delaying the identification of the auditing firm to be involved with the SC decision ordering Hacienda Luisita, Inc. to return P1.3 billion to farmworkers as share from income generated by sale of lands. To further sabotage the order, DAR is now proposing sugar block farming to farmworker-beneficiaries.
“DAR is clearly under the control of Aquino. It is only confirming its role as an anti-farmer and pro-landlord such as the Cojuangco-Aquinos. While the land is yet to be distributed, it is busying itself with this issue that is clearly to give the Cojuangco-Aquinos control over the lands,” Canlas said.
The groups said that CARP historically failed on the issue of Hacienda Luisita. Its extending program, the Republic Act 9700 or CARP Extension with “Reforms” has not proposed significant reforms. Thus, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers and Central Luzon farmers demand for the repeal of CARPer and the immediate distribution of lands. The groups demanded the enactment of House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) as it proposes free land distribution and nationalization of agricultural lands.
“CARP has been extended many times, in 1998, in 2008 and 2009. It is a program that died many years ago, thus, CARPer is only a zombie. It should be immediately junked and we call the enactment of GARB,” Canlas said.
Amgl and Ambala also denounced the recent military operations in Brgy. Asturias inside Hacienda Luisita. From June 5 to 6, elements of the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army (IBPA), together with officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) aboard 5 vans, 1 car, 1 truck and 1 6x6 military truck, hunted down leaders of Ambala and United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu). Government forces illegally entered the farmworkers’ camp and a house of an Ambala leader.
“Aquino is executing is a double-edge sword tactic. While using DAR’s deception, government forces continue to harass the farmworkers, to coerce them into giving up their struggle for their rights to land. We totally condemn this oppression by the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the Aquino government. This is the concrete proof that the Aquino government continues to violate the basic rights of the people,” Canlas said.
Amgl and Ambala appealed for support from different sectors and oppose the Aquino government’s program and policies that is disadvantageous to the people. The groups are to hold a protest in Angeles city on June 9 and in front of the DAR Region III office in the city of San Fernando on June 10 to mark the 25th year implementation of CARP. #