Aquino's effigy. (Photo by KMP)
“Filipinos are now witnessing a single but controversial land issue becoming a spark or a trigger to more people’s protest against president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino’s inability to effect genuine land reform and real social change in our country,” Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson said in a press statement.
Amgl said that they are on the stage of preparing their members from provinces such as Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales to support the plight of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, as well as demand Aquino the change he promised during the presidential campaign last year.
Canlas claimed that “our members in Pangasinan are being threatened by land grabbing by the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Realty Corp. (CAT Realty), owned by Aquino’s family, in Tarlac, our members are becoming victims of systematic land grabbing and displacement as caused by the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (Tplex), those in Bataan are being displaced by the establishment of many economic processing zones, in Aurora, farmers are facing the Aurora-Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) project that Aquino even appointed members of the board of directors last February. In Nueva Ecija, Aquino’s military belonging to the 7th Infantry Division of the Phil. Army are displacing farmers.”
He added that Aquino’s implementation of CARPer has been causing widespread agrarian unrest in different provinces such as in Guimba, Nueva Ecija, San Miguel, Bulacan, southeast and northwestern Pampanga, Bataan and other provinces. Aquino’s much-promoted Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program has been allowing the Lopez-controlled Energy Dev’t Corp. (EDC) to displace Igorot farmers in Pantabangan, and farmers in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Aurora are threatened to be displaced by the construction of Central Luzon Expressway (Clex).
The group said that the Cojuangco-Aquinos through the Supreme Court’s decision are attempting to take back the gains of the farmworkers struggle in Hacienda Luisita, where they were able to convert thousand-hectares of used-to-be sugarlands to productive rice lands. The decision is also a disgrace to the sacrifices of the 7 victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre that took place on November 16, 2004.
“The Supreme Court’s decision could not reflect the objective condition inside Hacienda Luisita. Elements of the military, particularly the 70th Infantry Battalion and its Cafgu elements are still operating inside threatening leaders that oppose the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Aquino is certainly involved in deploying his military inside the hacienda. Moreover, the high court could not even issue an order to effect an atmosphere of liberty and free-will, with the military presence and the Cojuangco-Aquinos coercion of barangay officials,” Canlas said.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are total traditional ruling clique, as they are even now engaging to bribe farmworkers to favor the referendum,” he added.
Amgl gathered reports from Ambala that a certain Juanito Luna of Brgy. Balete is paying an amount of P5,000 each farmworkers. In addition, Hacienda Luisita, Inc. vice-president Ernesto Teopaco through his secretary Buena Timbol has summoned the barangay captains from the 10 barangays.
“They have been doing this for years, since the farmers have cultivated the lands. They keep barangay officials on their control to repress Ambala from further educating the farmworkers of the deception of the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Canlas said.
The group has also commended Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) for issuing a memorandum among its chapters to hold protests against president Aquino’s inaction and disservice to the farmworkers.
“With the 15 regional chapters of KMP, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, alongwith their supporters from different sectors, the issue of Hacienda Luisita would definitely shake the country’s islands,” Canlas said.
Amgl also lauded the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) who held its 4th International Assembly in the Philippines to call for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita and demand Aquino to implement genuine land reform. The call is affirmed by activists from 42 countries.
“We are very confident that Aquino’s insensitivity to the poor people is steadily being exposed, proportional to his dwindling trust ratings,” he added.s
Canlas is particularly referring to that sectors who supported Aquino’s electoral campaign are now on the side of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. They are primarily the church sector, students from well-known universities who supported Aquino as well as from state universities facing tuition fee increases, the legal sector who is disappointed with the SC decision, the urban poor who is facing systematic demolition, communities of farmers, workers, indigenous people, fisherfolk who voted for him but are now faced with agrarian dispute and lay-offs and concerned citizens who are dissatisfied of Aquino’s mediocre effort to prosecute former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of her corruption and rights abuses.
“These sectors are now chanting, junk the Stock Distribution Option, junk the referendum, distribute Hacienda Luisita. With their support, the farmworkers would definitely flood to protest against the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that support to Ambala has been amplifying that farmworkers are inspired to expand their cultivation of the lands within the hacienda. Sectors have committed support to the cultivation to articulate that farmworkers are demanding land and rejecting the referendum.
“We call on freedom-loving Filipinos to support the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers of their struggle for genuine land reform. This is not just their struggle, this is all ours, as our society would not progress unless the shackles of feudal control such as of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, are not abolished,” Canlas called. #