The regional farmers’ group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlac (AMT) urged the high court to immediately distribute Hacienda Luisita lands to the farmworkers. The groups said that there are overwhelming legal basis that the lands were never legitimate and moral properties of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and they were developed through the painstaking work of the farmers inside the hacienda even before it was controlled by the landlord family.
“The Supreme Court should never wait for the crow to turn to white, as this case would drag them down as the whole Filipino society knows of the deception and exploitation committed by the Cojuangco-Aquinos for more than 50 years,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL Chairperson in a press statement.
“Do we need to remind the high court again and again of the history of Hacienda Luisita? That the Cojuangcos controlled the lands in 1957 using public lands under the condition of agrarian reform, swindled the government and the farmworkers until former president Cory Aquino rose to power and implemented the Stock Distribution Option (SDO),” he added.
The groups said that there is now no debate that SDO failed and did not alleviate the poverty of the farmworkers, pushed them to went on strike on November 6, 2004. Consequently, after the Hacienda Luisita massacre, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) decided to revoke SDO on December 23, 2005. The Cojuangco-Aquinos blocked the decision at the Supreme Court that issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on June 2006. The TRO is aging 5 years at present.
AMGL said that as former president Cory Aquino declared agrarian reform as her centerpiece program, the Hacienda Luisita case is a cornerstone issue for the farmers’ struggle for genuine land reform. The group added that the history of the hacienda is a textbook case of feudal bondage and exploitation of a landlord class to a peasant class.
During the Spanish colonization, the estate was controlled by Don Antonio Lopez y Lopez and was named after his wife Luisa Bru y Lassus under the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas or Tabacalera. Hacienda Luisita was acquired by Tabacalera on November 26, 1881, together with Hacienda Antonio, Hacienda San Fernando and Hacienda Sta. Isabel in Cagayan and Isabela. During this period, the Spanish colonial government’s tobacco monopoly was being taken over by landlords.
During the American period, Hacienda Luisita was never taken from the Tabacalera, instead it supplied 20% of total supply of sugar in the US. It upgraded its sugar central and Luisita sugar became popular in the US especially among Filipino elite migrants. The technological advancement pushed different smaller sugar centrals to merge as what Honorio Ventura, the sugar enterpreneur who paid Diosdado Macapagal’s education, and the De Leons and Gonzales did giving birth to Pampanga Sugar Development Corp. (PASUDECO).
In 1957, the Hukbalahap rebellion pushed the Tabacalera into disposing Hacienda Luisita. It was eyed by the Lopezes who already owned Meralco, Negros Navigation, Manila Chronicle, ABS-CBN and various haciendas in western Visayas and Pampanga. On the contrary, former president Magsaysay blocked the sale as the Lopezes control over industries were already towards monopoly. The Cojuangcos showed intent and the sale pushed through after Magsaysay’s death in 1958 through a loan from the Gov’t Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Manufacturers’ Trust of Company of New York, guaranteed by the Central Bank of the Philippines. This was under the condition that the lands would be under agrarian reform in 10 years time under the framework of the government’s social justice program.
AMGL said that the Hacienda Luisita is a time-space warp for feudal bondage and exploitation as it went through historical eras with the landlord and comprador class exploiting the peasant class who generated wealth.
“The Hacienda Luisita issue is past and present of landlordism in our country, the Supreme Court, sectors especially the youth should learn from this issue. The future should be the liberation of the farmworkers from this rotting system of feudal oppression of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Everything the Cojuangco-Aquinos enjoyed through decades came from the sweat and blood of the farmworkers,” Canlas said.
In line with the call for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita, farmers from Hacienda Luisita and towns from Tarlac province would join in the protest in Manila marking the anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Not less than a thousand farmers from other provinces of the region such as Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan would held action at Cabanatuan City.
“Hacienda Luisita is not just a peasant struggle, it is a Filipino struggle against the feudal system that keeps our country from moving on and developing. Every freedom loving Filipino citizen should support the call for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to the farmworkers,” Canlas said. #