The groups Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon) and its chapter Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA, Farmworkers’ Alliance in Hacienda Luisita) criticized president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s statement through deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte claiming that distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the farmworkers is stalled because the case is pending at the Supreme Court, particularly on the issue of “just compensation.” The groups assert that the Cojuangco-Aquinos do not deserve compensation on the lands.
“Aquino is again acting in defense of his family’s vested interest in Hacienda Luisita, now citing it as a ‘pending case’ at the SC. Everybody knows that the Cojuangcos used public funds to acquire the hacienda and even the youngest of their clan have benefitted from our ancestors’ sweat and blood by cultivating sugarcane for almost half a century,” said Felix Nacpil, Jr., Ambala chairperson.
AMGL and Ambala cited reasons they claim justify the Cojuangco-Aquinos should not be compensated: they used public funds to acquire Hacienda Luisita; benefitted from the decades-long production of sugar; indebted to the farmworkers as they pushed for an “assumption of jurisdiction” that led to the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004; and Aquino being president should be the frontrunner of implementing fundamental reforms and realizing social justice in the country.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos controlled the hacienda for 50 years. They clung on the lands though it should be distributed to the farmers as early as 1967. When Cory Aquino became president in 1980’s, she employed Stock Distribution Option (SDO) under CARP to deceive us by labelling us as stockholders. As SDO impoverished us, we went on strike on 2004, but we were massacred,” Nacpil cited.
“Everybody in the country knows the story of Hacienda Luisita, that is why the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the CBCP have expressed support in our struggle,” Nacpil added.
In addition, AMGL said that Aquino affirming that the very trigger of chief justice Renato Corona’s impeachment is the issue of Hacienda Luisita.
“Now Aquino is passing the ball on the Supreme Court, but we see it as peddling, offering the embattled chief justice a way out of the impeachment. By reversing the ruling on Luisita, he would then keep his post as chief justice,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson.
AMGL added that Aquino indeed admitted that the lands are morally owned by the farmworkers as Valte could only refer to the issue of compensation.
“It is an affirmation that farmworkers should cultivate the remaining 4,915-hectares of agricultural land as Aquino could only excuse the issue of compensation. Compensation is only a matter between the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the government led by Aquino, thus, they have no right to obstruct the farmworkers’ cultivation of the lands,” Canlas said.
AMGL and Ambala said that farmworkers are gearing up for a multi-sectoral protest on February 22, infront of the Supreme Court to demand for the immediate and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita. #