Hundreds of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) and farmers belonging to Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance of Central Luzon) marched anew towards the Supreme Court to demand the junking of the Stock Distribution Option and order the immediate distribution of lands to the farmworkers.
“We are here to call for the high court to decide on the revocation of the SDO, lift the TRO and immediately distribute the lands to the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers,” said Joseph Canlas, Chair of AMGL, the Central Luzon chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
“We call for the Supreme Court to be independent, not afraid of President Aquino and the fuedal Cojuangco-Aquinos, we want to see an institution working for fundamental reforms, we challenge the judiciary as the executive and legislative bodies are against genuine land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” Canlas added.
The groups said that the high court should uphold social justice and decide in favor of the farmworkers. History have shown that the Cojuangcos used public money to acquire Luisita, made money out of it, exploiting the labor of countless farmworkers for decades and eager to eject them out of the lands to pave the way for massive land use conversion.
“Everybody knows that the Cojuangcos ripped off the Philippine government and Filipino peasants when it loaned from the GSIS and Central Bank to buy Hacienda Luisita during the 1950s. They never paid that debt, today it is known as ‘estafa’ or fraud,” Canlas said.
AMGL added that days before the February 25 anniversary of the People Power I, the Aquino government is trying to sugarcoat its anti-peasant and anti-people measures by clouding people’s mind of the ghost of former president Cory Aquino.
“Cory Aquino destroyed the spirit of people power when she massacred the Filipino peasantry at Mendiola on January 22, 1987. Adding insult to injury, she enacted the historically useless and anti-peasant Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or Republic 6657 on June 10, 1988. The late Aquino promised to distribute Hacienda Luisita but she never did, instead, implemented the notorious Stock Distribution Option and deceived the farmworkers of being ‘stockholders.’ To fully repress the peasant unrest, she carried out the ‘Total War Policy’, resulting to gross human rights abuses during her time,” said Canlas.
AMGL said that the spirit of People Power is not on the present Aquino government nor on the ghost of late Aquino but through the concrete and live struggle of Filipino peasants for genuine land reform, particularly the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the farmworkers.
“We advise for those who think that the name Cojuangco-Aquinos is equivalent to democracy or freedom to learn history, the havoc those feudal lords have raised upon the Filipino farmers and people,” Canlas said.
Following the protest on the Supreme Court, the farmers marched towards Mendiola to demand Aquino genuine reforms such as genuine land reform.
“Today under the old bachelor Noynoy Aquino’s government, the people are faced with worsening economic crisis manifested by increases of rates and prices of basic goods and services. Aquino is a total liar if we are to recall his promises of ‘change’ or ‘matuwid na daan,’” he added.
The group said that Aquino’s program in Central Luzon is none other than the extension of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s program such as the “super-regions,” particularly the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB).
“In Tarlac, many peasant communities are being threatened by dislocations and landgrabbing. Landgrabbers and speculators have flooded the countryside in anticipation of these highways included in the MLUB program,” Canlas said.
AMGL said that the MLUB composed of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) from Pampanga to Tarlac, SCTEx 3 from Tarlac to Nueva Ecija, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), Central Luzon Expressway Phase 1 and 2 (CLEx) from Tarlac to northern Nueva Ecija, Northern Luzon Expressway East (NLEx East), La Mesa Parkway has triggered massive landgrabbing and displacements measures of landlords and speculators. The group said that the project is a recipe to heightened peasant unrest in the region.
CARPer not an option to Luisita dispute, groups said
The group said that Republic Act 9700 or CARP Extension with ‘Reforms’ go hand-in-hand with Aquino’s program in the region. Landlords, landgrabbers, speculators and developers would definitely use CARPer to displace farmers and convert productive agricultural lands for industrial, commercial and residential purposes.
AMGL said that CARP has showed its futility on the Hacienda Luisita issue, the Cojuangco-Aquinos using the law and SDO to retain their control over the 6,453-hectare estate, and converting almost 1,500-hectares to other uses. CARPer would definitely be used against the farmers at areas of land dispute such as the 3,100-hectare agricultural lands of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija, dispute in San Miguel, Bulacan where Rep. Luis Villafuerte is grabbing the 375-hectare productive agricultural lands in Sitio Malapad na Parang, and in 200-hectare agricultural lands at Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte city, the 200-hectare lands in Bgy. Prado Siongco, Lubao town, Pampanga where the Pinedas demolished houses of small farmers, in Bgy. Tebag West in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan where farmers are being displaced, in local farms of Bayambang town in Pangasinan under threat of landgrabbing by the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the 154-hectare productive ricelands in Bgy. Balangcinaway and adjacent barangays in Tarlac City, in Bgy. San Roque, La Paz town, also of Tarlac province. There are also dispute in local farms of Orion town, Bataan province.
“We are here at Congress protesting as this institution has been a haven for landlords. At present, House Speaker Belmonte is pre-empting the Supreme Court by stating that Hacienda Luisita would not be covered by CARPer,” Canlas said.
“CARPer is not an option to the Hacienda Luisita dispute. Laws such as CARP and provision of SDO were the main instrument of deception and exploitation among farmworkers. CARPer is no grace that would reverse CARP and SDO, actually it is the mutation of CARP, it is a fuel to the already huge fire,” he added.
AMGL and AMBALA renewed their call to junk CARPer and instead thrusted their demand the passage of House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill proposed by Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano. The groups said that the bill encoined the essence of genuine land reform and nationalization of agricultural lands.
“Lands have been paid up generations ago by farmers, thus, it should be now distributed for free. Through this way, national development could be realized in the country, GARB is what we want, CARPer is all crap,” Canlas said.
The protesters burned symbols of CARPer with President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino sitting on his Porsche luxury car. #