The regional farmers’ group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (Amt), Anakpawis Party-list Central Luzon and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) condemned the latest land grabbing by the Cojuangco-Aquino family through their controlled firm, Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco). Tadeco has levelled lands in brgy. Balete since December 12 including farm lands cultivated by farm workers. At least 6 hectares of rice crops were destroyed which are about to be harvested this period, aside from the farms cultivated with vegetable and rootcrops. In addition, Tadeco has fenced about 500-hectares of land from brgy. Balete and Cut-cut since October, coinciding the “raffle” distribution of certificate of land ownership awards (cloa) by officials of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The groups said the government forces, particularly elements of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army has set up detachments which farm workers claim served as security forces to Tadeco.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos and BS Aquino, who live extravagantly, do not appreciate it is already christmas season. Instead of being sympathetic to the impoverished farm workers whose only livelihood are the farms they cultivate, the Cojuangco-Aquinos put their greed afront, bulldozed lands and destroyed crops,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator.
The groups condemn the holistic, systematic and coordinated land grabbing by the Cojuangco-Aquino family, using government machineries and engaging in outright illegal seizing of lands in Hacienda Luisita. Ambala said that the lands bulldozed by Tadeco were covered by land distribution as issued by DAR on December 17, while Tadeco officials could not produce any court order or documents legitimizing their operations. Tadeco conspired with police forces, particularly the Tarlac city Philippine National Police under Col. Bayani Razalan, provincial PNP under Director Alex Sintin to ward off protests of the farm workers. The Tadeco security was led by a certain Mauro dela Cruz and its representative Villamor Lagunero.
As Tadeco’s operation was opposed by the farm workers, police forces illegally arrested leaders and members of Ambala. Tarlac city PNP arrested: Rod and his mother Eufemia Acosta, Ronald Sakay, husband and wife Jose & Elsa Baldiviano, Manuel and Mamerto Mandigma and Vicente Sambo who also assaulted.
“We have witnessed again the brutality of the Cojuangco-Aquino family, using violence to pursue their interests. With all the government resources funded by our mere paid taxes are being utilized by a landlord family for their self-serving interests. These blatant show of force could not be even backed up by any legal documents, thus, making it basically illegal,” Canlas said.
The groups demanded the immediate release of the illegally arrested farm workers.
“This is a unquestionable proof that land reform by the BS Aquino government is all deception. The Cojuangco-Aquinos has circumvented the Supreme Court decision of land distribution, by ordering DAR with absurd scheme of raffling out cloas, excluding prime lands and obliging farm worker beneficiaries of amortization,”
The groups said that the genuine land reform is being realized by Ambala’s “bungkalan” (cultivation) campaign since 2005. The campaign reached at most at 2,000-hectares where the lands were cultivated and their harvests enjoyed by the farm workers. The campaign fundamentally emancipated the lands from the Cojuangco-Aquno family when they were cultivated by rice, vegetables and fruits. Sugar cultivation to thousands of hectares secures supply to the Cojuangco-Aquino controlled Central Azucarera de Tarlac mill, thus, varying crops at a certain level declines raw material.
“The christmas spirit has no effect to the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Instead of giving, they have taken. Aquino who has failed the people has again transgressed the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita,” Canlas said.
The groups asserted that farmers in different parts of the province and region are to support the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers. Cultivation campaign in the region is being promoted by Amgl and its affiliated farmer organizations.
“As the old saying goes, without land, a farmer is nothing. Thus, we call on support from different sectors for the Hacienda Luisita farm workers. The feudal control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos has been long overdue and must be terminated,” Canlas ended. #