Farmworkers who are demanding the pull-out are from Brgy. Balete, Brgy. Mapalacsiao, Brgy. Lourdes, Brgy. Cutcut, Brgy. Asturias ng Tarlac City; Brgy. Motrico, Brgy. Bantog, Bayan ng La Paz at Brgy.Mabilog, Brgy. Pando, Brgy. Parang bayan ng Concepcion, Tarlac. The said barangays have been deployed with military who set-up or used barangay halls as their detachment.
“We are demanding the pull-out of the military as they threaten us farmworkers who uphold our rights to land. Also, they have no business in Hacienda Luisita, as everybody knows that this is an agrarian issue even reaching the Supreme Court,” said Felix Nacpil, Jr., Ambala chairperson.
The Ambala petition said that “we[farmworkers] are the legitimate owners of 4,915-hectares in Hacienda Luisita which the Cojuangco-Aquinos are trying to keep their control of. Though the Supreme Court has decided 14-0 in favor of the farmworkers on November 22, 2011, the Cojuangco-Aquinos continue to employ schemes, threatening them with violence and deceiving farmworkers just to keep their control over the hacienda.”
The petition added that the former president Corazon Aquino thwarted the distribution of the hacienda by enacting the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law or Republic Act 6657, provisioning the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that was implemented by the Cojuangco-Aquinos. SDO caused poverty and misery to the farmworkers that became the very basis of their strike on November 2004. To keep their control over the hacienda and repress the farmworkers’ struggle, the Cojuangco-Aquinos colluded with the Arroyo government for the Labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas to issue an “assumption of jurisdiction” order that set-off the violent dispersal of the picketline by government forces. The dispersal resulted the “Hacienda Luisita Massacre” that took place on November 16, 2004, killing 7 farmworkers.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos were never contented in the massacre, thus, they demanded the Arroyo government massive military deployment at the barangays inside the hacienda in 2005. The military served as their private armed group, harassing us, violating our basic rights to repress our struggle for our rights to land,” Nacpil said.
The farmworkers’ petition encoined the military abuses during the implementation of the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 and up to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.
AMGL vowed to demand the military pull-out as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino as its commander-in-chief.
“The AFP is directly under Aquino who is golden boy of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. It is immoral and unjust that government resources and machinery are being used for their private and selfish interest. Aquino should be careful as the Filipino people are now awaken that his promises of reform are all lip-service and vigilant of his every move,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson.
AMGL said that the deployment of the military is just a continuation of what they have done during the Arroyo government. The petition cited that the military are all-over the hacienda, used the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) office, barangay halls as their detachments, conducted house-to-house operation of activist farmworkers, marked their houses with “NPA supporter,” interrogated farmworkers’ leaders, threatened to kill them and more. It added that during the massive militarization of the hacienda, activists and supporters of the farmworkers became victims of extra-judicial killings such as Marcelino Beltran, chairperson of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Tarlak (AMT) and vice-chairperson of AMGL, Tarlac City councilor Abel Ladera; Philippine Independent Church Bishop Alberto Ramento and priest William Tadeña; ULWU leader Tirso Cruz, Bayan Muna leader Victor Concepcion. It added the shooting incident by security guards of the Cojuangco-Aquinos in Brgy. Balete last February 20.
“There are overwhelming reasons why the military should be pulled out of Hacienda Luista, farmworkers who are legitimately and morally upholding their rights to land are usual targets of rights abuses and it would continue unless they are out,” Amabala leader Nacpil said.
“Aquino is shameless by using government machinery to protect his family’s private interest. It is corruption committed by highest public official in front of our faces. He has no moral authority to push for Corona’s impeachment as he is the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ black knight wreaking havoc among Hacienda Luisita farmworkers,” Canlas said. #