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) slammed the Cojuangco-Aquinos on their nonstop harassment to farmworkers on February 20, inside Hacienda Luisita when 100 security guards, 10 elements of Tarlac provincial police and 15 of the Philippine Army escorted the fencing of agricultural lands at Brgy. Balete, the very site of farmworkers’ cultivation campaign. More than 300 Ambala members blocked the putting of fences and the team of security guards, police and military fired shots eight times to scare the farmworkers.
“They thought we would be cowed by the gunfire. We had it when we were massacred on November 16, 2004. But we stayed put and continued to block the fencing, it is a triumphant defense of our rights to land,” said Felix Nacpil, Ambala chairperson.
“We condemn this latest harassment of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. We all know that this is another desperate act of the Cojuangco-Aquinos to repress our struggle. What else could they do after this? We could never forget the massacre in 2004 that killed 7 of us and more than a hundred wounded. We expect more and worse than this in the future when Hacienda Luisita would be finally distributed,” Nacpil added.
Ambala said that the incident fortified their resolve to defend their cultivation of the lands.
“We condemn this attempt from the Cojuangco-Aquinos using government forces under the command of president Aquino. This is obviously orchestrated as Aquino is trying to put the country’s attention by criticizing chief justice Corona and declaring he is looking for a wife, while his landlord family is busy planning on demolishing the farmworkers’ camp-out at Brgy. Balete,” said Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl and Ambala said that the Aquino government is using the police and military as their private armed group to protect their stake at Hacienda Luisita and repress the farmworkers’ struggle for their rights to land.
“Aquino is lambasting Corona and at the same time neglecting the Supreme Court decision for the 4,915-hectare agricultural lands to be distributed to the farmworker-beneficiaries led by Ambala,” Canlas said.
The groups said that Hacienda Luisita continues to be heavily militarized as detachments are still set-up at ten barangays since 2005. Ambala has demanded the pull-out of military since then but at present president Aquino is employing government forces to threaten farmworkers and repress their struggle for genuine land reform.
The groups said that it has been established that the lands should be distributed to the farmworkers but the Cojuangco-Aquinos are desperate in keeping their control over the hacienda.
“Aquino could only invoke the issue of ‘compensation’ and could not justifiy their claim to the lands and using the excuse that the issue is pending at the Supreme Court,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that the issue of compensation is already a matter between the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the Aquino government and the Supreme Court’s decision that the lands be distributed has legally justified the farmworkers’ campaign to cultivate the 4,915-hectares agricultural land.
“We are the legitimate owners of the 4,915 has of land and the Cojuangco-Aquinos must recognize that it is legally and morally ours. The decades-long oppression and deception by the Cojuangco should finally end so that we could peacefully cultivate Hacienda Luisita and as our source of food and livelihood,” Nacpil said. #