RCBCsecurity guards outpost. (Photo by AMGL)
“This is the latest insult of Aquino to the Filipino farmers. As if we are not significant, like insects, not worthy to be mentioned on a Sona. Aquino is fulfilling his role as an anti-peasant president, a landlord icon and defender of the Cojuangco-Aquino interest in Hacienda Luisita,” said Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl joined the people’s protest along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. They are also the group who constantly support the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala). Ambala is a member-organization of Amgl.
“When we are listening to Aquino’s speech at the protest, we simply thought that it was not ‘edible,’ he is talking Gloria-like about facts and figures that poor Filipinos have no use of. His manner of speech is un-president, he is either talking about macro-economics or about small things like ‘wang-wang,’” Canlas said.
Amgl counted that Aquino used the word “wang-wang” 18 times, while none about pertinent agenda on the farmers. The tally was as the following: “lupa” 2; “reporma sa lupa” (land reform) 0; “magsasaka”, “magbubukid” (farmers) 0; Hacienda Luisita 0; “kahirapan” (poverty) 1; “agrikultura” (agriculture) 2; “karapatan pantao” (human rights) 1; “kapayapaan” (peace) 0; “demokrasya” (democracy) 0 and “kalayaan” (freedom) 1.
“Aquino talked about land but he was not referring to land reform, poverty but on the conditional cash transfer (CCT), agriculture related to his development program copied from former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, human rights referring to Bishop Palma of the CBCP, freedom about local government units (LGU),” Canlas said.
“He never mentioned us farmers, the majority among us Filipinos, especially Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, he has accepted that he is indeed an enemy of the Filipino farmers. House helpers are luckier than us as he promised them just wages and benefits,” he added.
The group added that Aquino has not committed to prosecute former president Arroyo especially about the P728-million fertilizer scam and other corruption cases involving the agriculture department. Aquino not at all brought up the human rights abuses resulted by Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.
“Central Luzon farmers have nothing to expect from Aquino, but devastating programs such as his Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, his promotion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (Carper), globalist policies such as privatization and liberalization of the energy sectors involving hydro-electric dams that cause displacement to indigenous peoples and destruction to crops. The planned construction of superhighways are threatening to displace many farmers from their land, including the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers,” Canlas said.
Hacienda Luisita “bungkalan” (cultivation)
“As we are totally disregarded by the Aquino government, we would take the lead to uphold our rights to land and we are doing this now in Hacienda Luisita,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that farmworkers under Ambala have occupied the 500-hectares claimed by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) at Brgy. Balete and Texas since July 15. The farmworkers said that RCBC’s claim was a result of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s deception of farmworker-beneficiaries selling lands that they legitimately own.
“We are now at the process of parcelling the lands to be awarded to deserving beneficiaries. We are prioritizing the families of the victims of rights abuses, those who persistently struggled for their land rights and the most impoverished. This is far more superior than Aquino’s CCT program,” Canlas said.
Amgl affirmed that the bungkalan is the concretization of justice being serve to the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. They added that it encoins the true meaning of social justice, opposite to the July 5 referendum-decision of the Supreme Court.
“The high court have decided in favor of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, thus, we are affirming the demand of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers that is land. We are strongly united for this bungkalan, thus, any attack of the Cojuangco-Aquinos would be faced by broad protest and condemnation. We also advice the RCBC management to demand the Cojuangco-Aquinos of any losses they have incurred as they are the ones who ripped them off,” Canlas said.
The group said that RCBC should hold the Cojuangco-Aquinos for consciously selling lands that are historically under dispute. The latter has the clear intent of defrauding RCBC by assuring them that they would not be affected by the agrarian dispute.
“We are constantly monitoring the movement of the RCBC security guards at Brgy. Balete, but we are not considering them as our main adversary as they have no record of abuses against the residents. But we are cautioning them against colluding with the military based at the barangay hall, and also with the corrupt barangay official who is a lackey of the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that Ambala is planning the sustained campaign of bungkalan, particularly on other barangays as local farmworkers have also demanded to cultivate the land.
“This bungkalan is the exact opposite of Aquino’s state of the nation address as farmers could concretely benefit from the fruits of the land, the harvested rice coming from these lands are going to feed the hungry Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. On the contrary, Aquino and his corrupt syndicate should eat the paper his sona was printed on,” Canlas said. #