(Photo by KMP)
The regional farmers’ group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon) said that president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III affirmed his family’s interest by directing the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to appeal the Supreme Court decision revoking the Stock Distribution Plan (SDP) in Hacienda Luisita. DAR’s appeal simply means covering the hacienda under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer), the group said.
“President Aquino is dancing with the SC decision, this is the other option of ‘win-win’ solution for the Cojuangcos as DAR’s appeal is to implement CARPer and not sincere land distribution. It is equivalent to the Cojuangcos maintaining control of the land,” Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson said in a press statement.
Amgl is referring to the high court’s decision of referendum forcing farmworkers to choose between “stock” and land distribution. The group said that the referendum is a booby trap as it is both favorable to the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
“If farmworkers choose ‘stocks’, the Cojuangcos would continue to be in control of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc., choosing land distribution that is through CARPer, would compel the farmworkers an attestation from the Cojuangco that they are indeed tenant, compensate the latter for an amount they have dictated and be subjected to exemption or cancellation cases on grounds the Cojuangcos may see applicable,” Canlas said.
The group is also criticizing DAR’s dilly-dally approach on the issue. The SC decision came out on July 5 and DAR was only able to announce their plan to file a motion for reconsideration almost a week after when secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes and solicitor general Joel Cadiz held a press conference. In addition, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was quoted two days following the decision that Aquino would respect and abide by it.
“We have witnessed that DAR did not act in anticipation or it is possible that they really have no plans of appealing the decision, but compelled to do so by the snowballing protest of the farmworkers and other sectors. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte then said that Aquino is ‘for the interest of the majority of the farmworkers’ which couldn’t be squeezed out from presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda,” Canlas said.
“We are actually witnessing a government led by a president protecting his family’s landlord interest. It is history that he promised to distribute Hacienda Luisita during the presidential campaign, but adopted a ‘hands off’ policy when he became president. Followed that he would abide by the SC decision and now DAR would appeal it. When it comes to the Hacienda Luisita issue, Aquino could not pronounce a straight statement, his officials state contradicting and swerving statements,” he added.
Amgl reiterated that the legitimate farmworkers led by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala, Farmworkers Alliance in Hacienda Luisita) demand free and immediate land distribution as the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) clearly failed and resulted poverty and hardship. Ambala is a member-organization of Amgl based in Hacienda Luisita and its chairperson is Felix Nacpil, an senior farmworker. It’s allied organization United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu) is led by acting-president Lito Bais is also calling for free land distribution. Ambala and Ulwu, together with the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (Catlu) then led by the extra-judicial killing (EJK) victim Ricardo Ramos, led the strike on November 2004 that demanded the revocation of SDO.
“Aquino who have been an actor on the Hacienda Luisita issue, being a well-known but second-rate politician from the Cojuangco-Aquino family, himself was involved in a shooting incident on January 2005, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex) issue, is now the president who could not even banner the interest of the farmworkers against his family’s. It is an indication that he would not promote the interest of the country’s poor, primarily the farmers in the countryside,” Canlas said.
Amgl claim that the present crisis in Hacienda Luisita is fuelled by president Aquino’s protection of his family’s stake, substandard performance such as defending the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) resolution revoking the SDO and abandonment of the hacienda farmworkers, as well as in Central Luzon and other regions for not implementing a genuine land reform program. #