October 29, 2009
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-907-418-0098)
Hacienda Luisita farmers to defy Cojuangcos' October 30 deadline,
Noynoy should convince family to distribute lands
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of
the Philippines) is on all-out support to Hacienda Luisita farmers and
gearing up for an intensified dispute as Cojuangco family's deadline for
them to cultivate the lands, October 30 nears. The United Luisita Workers'
Union (Ulwu) and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala)
is beefing up its forces as they anticipate displacement measures of the
Hacienda Luisita, Inc.
October 30 deadline
"We are on-call starting today as October 30 nears. It is the deadline set
by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) on their letter to the agri-workers
dated December 18, 2008 for them to leave the lands inside the hacienda.
We believe that this letter is immoral, unjust and illegal as the case of
Hacienda Luisita is at the Supreme Court, which means, they have no right
to implement such order," said KMP Secretary-General Danilo Ramos in a
press conference today in Quezon City.
The letter signed by a certain Hernan M. Gregorio, Jr., claiming to be
Assistant Estate Manager of HLI said that by the said deadline, farmers
could have recover the costs they invested in cultivating the lands. On
the contrary, Ulwu and Ambala members have affirmed of no plans of
discontinuing cultivation and said that the Cojuangcos' only cling to the
lands is a desperate Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the
Supreme Court against the order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform
Council (PARC) and Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) revocating the Stock
Distribution Option (SDO).
"The only obvious measure that has come out of the Hacienda Luisita
struggle is the immediate and free distribution of lands to the agri-workers,"
Stock Distribution Option (SDO) caused poverty to agri-workers
Hacienda Luisita has been under SDO since the implementation of CARP in
1991 during President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino's regime which
superficially classified the farmer-beneficiaries as "stock-holders."
History has shown that the Cojuangcos' have no plans of distributing the
lands to agri-workers instead they have commenced with the massive land
use conversion (LUCs) that left only about 3,200 hectares of agricultural
lands from the original 7,500 hectares in 1958.
The Cojuangcos have implemented LUCs without consultation to "co-owners"
farmer-beneficiaries, which led to the construction of Luisita Golf and
Country Club, Las Haciendas Industrial Subdivision, Luisita Industrial
Farm, Family Park Homes Subdivision, Don Pepe Cojuangco Subdivision, St.
Luis Subdivision, a 500-hectare Central Techno Park and 66 hectare for
Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex).
"Stock Distribution Option (SDO) has been proven clearly to be useless for
the agri-workers of Hacienda Luisita. It has caused poverty and misery,
such as the daily take-home pay of P9.50. Thus, SDO and the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has been futile against the Cojuangcos'
landlord control of the lands," said Ramos.
As massive LUCs reduced lands to be worked on by agri-workers, workload or
man-days have been reduced and massive retrenchment and forced retirements
have been implemented by HLI. As the economic well-being of the agri-workers
are threatened by Cojuangcos' management, they were compelled to launch a
full-size strike on November 6, 2004 and followed the Hacienda Luisita
massacre on November 16 which killed 7 striking agri-workers.
"There is no question the CARP which is now CARP Extension with `Reforms'
(Carper) has betrayed the agri-workers and veered away from genuine land
reform. Thus, Hacienda Luisita agri-workers are calling for the immediate
and free distribution of lands and the junking of Carper which we believe
would be used by the Cojunagcos' to displace agri-workers," said Ramos.
"The HLI letter was dated December 18 last year, which we believe prepared
in anticipation of the passage of Carper, instead Congress passed the
Joint Resolution No. 1. While Carper was signed by President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo on August 7, we believe that the Cojuangcos' would revive
coverage of the Hacienda Luisita lands to escape distribution," Ramos
Challenge to Noynoy
The group is also demanding Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to act
decisively in favor of the agri-workers. Sen. Aquino has claimed that he
has only 1/32 control of the HLI and hinted that his family would "leave"
"As of now, we are still waiting for Sen. Aquino to do the right thing,
which is to convince his family to distribute the lands to the legitimate
owners, the agri-workers who developed it. As he is running for president,
being indecisive and favoring his family's vested interest are not of the
qualities the Filipino people would want for a president, actually the
people would hate that," said Ramos.
KMP also reminded that there is still no justice for the victims of the
Hacienda Luisita massacre. To date, the Cojuangcos were involved in two
historical massacres killing Filipino peasants calling for genuine land
reform, the first was the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987 during
President Aquino's term.
"Sen. Aquino is facing a heavy roadblock on the issue of Hacienda Luisita,
his inaction on the issue of land and justice would totally lead to his
loss on the presidential elections. The issue of Hacienda Luisita would
not wither away, he should act determined and for the interest of the poor
peasants, actually the whole country even the world is on watch on the
issue," said Ramos.
Hacienda Luisita Massacre anniversary
KMP with Ulwu, Ambala and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma)
would be commemorating the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on
November 16. They would be launching a series of action, set off by a
protest action at the Jose Cojuangco and Sons Building in Makati on
October 30, to oppose the issued deadline for the agri-workers. This would
be followed by another protest action in Mendiola on November 6, to call
for the junking of Carper and condemn the Arroyo administration for
inaction on the issue. On November 16, the group would join to the
thousand-strong caravan headed for Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
"Hacienda Luisita is a classic model of landlessness in the country, also
of the determined struggle of peasants for genuine land reform, thus, we
are calling on all sectors to support the struggle of agri-workers. Social
justice and fundamental reform in Hacienda Luisita would precede reforms
in the country," called Ramos.#