“Aquino's presidency is useless for the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita, worse, it is detrimental as it continues to promote his family's interests and not of the poor farmers,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson and Anakpawis-Central Luzon regional coordinator. Ambala is a local chapter of Amgl.
The groups said that justice has yet to be served to the victims of the massacre, namely Juancho Sancho Sanchez, 20 years old of Brgy. Balite, Jhayvie Basilio, 20 of Brgy. Mapalacsiao, Jesus Laza, 34 of Brgy. Parang (Concepcion town), Jhune David, 27 of Brgy. Cut-cut, Jaime Fastidio, 47 of Brgy. Motrico (La Paz town), Jessie Valdez, 30 of Brgy. Balite and Adriano Caballero, 23 of Brgy. Balite.
While the series of extra-judicial killings during the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya victimized the following: peasant leader Marcelino Beltran, chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (AMT) was killed on December 8, 2004; Tarlac City councilor and former sugar mill worker Abel Ladera was killed on March 3, 2005; Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest Fr. William Tadena was killed on March 13, 2005 in La Paz town; peasant leader Victor “Tata Ben” Concepcion, leader of Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (Amc Pampanga) who was active at the picketline was killed on March 17, 2005; Florante Collante, Bayan Muna Tarlac coordinator was killed on October 15, 2005; Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) president and Brgy. Mapalacsiao chair Ricardo Ramos was killed on October 25, 2005; Tirso Cruz, a leader of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) was killed on March 17, 2006; IFI Bishop Alberto Ramento who was actively supporting the farmworkers was killed at his church located at the center of Tarlac City on October 3, 2006. AMT and AMC are provincial chapters of Amgl, while ULWU and CATLU were the workers' unions who launched the strike on November 6, 2004.
“These victims are no 'leftist propaganda' and we dare Aquino to visit their grave to see for himself. He claims to be president but did nothing to give justice, worse, he continued to promote the rule of impunity in the hacienda, as well in the whole country by implementing his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Canlas said.
Amgl and Ambala are also demanding that DAR to purge the FWB list of paid lackeys of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. The farmworkers claim that DAR adopted the list submitted by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.
“Obviously, DAR is controlled by Aquino and the Cojuangco-Aquinos. They included the names they have submitted and now they are burdening the legitimate farmworkers of petitioning for an inclusion-exclusion when they should have done their job seriously. They are the ones obliged to explain how caretakers of poultry and horses of the Cojuangco-Aquino family have been included in the list,” Canlas said.
As commemorative protest, farmers launched their caravan from Tarlac to Manila and vice-versa. About three hundred of Hacienda Luisita and Central Luzon farmers protested at Aquino's residence in Times street in Quezon City. They were joined by farmers from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Uma (farmworkers), Pamalakaya (fisherfolk) and Anakpawis Partylist. They burned enlarged photos of Aquino and his uncles Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco to symbolized their protest. The proceeded to Mendiola bridge in Manila to condemn the Aquino presidency, where more sectoral groups joined their protest. In the afternoon, they traveled towards Hacienda Luisita, where about a thousand farmworkers from Ambala and United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu) joined the protest around Tarlac city. They held programs at Metrotown Mall crossing, F. Tanedo st. , Brgy. San Roque demolition site and in front of the camp of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) at Brgy. San Miguel. They held a solidarity program and vigil at Brgy. Balite inside Hacienda Luisita joined by different groups from various provinces.
On the massacre anniversary, the groups went on caravan around the ten barangays of Tarlac city, La Paz and Concepcion towns, covered by Hacienda Luisita before finally holding the program at the site in front of gate 1 of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) sugar mill.
“We mark this day to warn Aquino and the Cojuangco-Aquino family against their schemes of getting back Hacienda Luisita. Justice may not be served during this Aquino regime but their names in history as a family that persists on massacre and rights abuses would never be erased and the day of retribution would definite come,” Canlas said. #