Militant groups in Central Visays hold picket rally

marking the 5th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre

 

Camp Sergio Osmeña, Sr., PNP, Cebu City

 

November 16, 2009

 

 

BONUS TRACKS: Doves and Bungkalan

 

 

 
 
   
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Photos courtesy of AMA-Sugbo-KMU and BAYAN-CV
           
           

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2009

 

Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI)

Jose Cojuangco and Sons Building

119 Dela Rosa Street

Salcedo Village, Makati

 

Sir/Ma’am:

 

GREETINGS OF GENUINE LAND REFORM!

 

This is in connection with your letter, Hacienda Luisita, Inc. signed by Hernan M. Gregorio, your Assistant Estate Manager, to the agri-workers ordering them to discontinue and desist in cultivating the lands starting October 30, 2009 (attached).  We, from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the national union center of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) and supporter of Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) would like to inform you that we do not recognize the said notice and we see that it is unjust, immoral and illegal as the issue is at the Supreme Court and the only cling of your company and the Cojuangco clan to the disputed lands is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the high court.

 

We are also demanding your company to cease and desist in implementing measures that are obviously to sow confusion among the agri-workers in Hacienda Luisita, such as a notice (attached) from Luisita Estate Management, dated October 16, 2009, requiring those who cultivate to register at your office in light of “equal opportunities” to the agri-worker beneficiaries.  We view that your office has no right to execute such measure and you have no legal basis to do so.  In connection, we insist that you pull-out the military at the hacienda which is obviously in preparation of the execution of your order.

 

It is also unquestionable and undeniable that the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) implemented since 1991 to 2004 has caused the immense poverty and hardships to the agricultural workers who are supposedly co-owners of HLI. 

 

Your company has implemented massive land use conversions (LUCs) without the consultation of agri-workers.  The 7,500-hectare lands in 1958 were reduced to 3,200 hectares of agricultural lands.  You commenced with 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).  Hacienda Luisita, Inc. has earned income from converting lands that the agri-workers legitimately own.

 

Actually, SDO and CARP has compelled the agri-workers to launch their legitimate strike in November 6, 2004.  In November 16, your efforts to dismantle the picket line has massacred 7 confirmed deaths of striking agri-workers. 

 

Thus, the issue of Hacienda Luisita was put on public eye which garnered support from different sectors of society and even from international groups.  The call for the junking of SDO and for legitimate rights of agri-workers has continued and resulted into the revocation by Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to revocate SDO.

 

The agri-workers of Hacienda Luisita has struggled for Genuine Land Reform and they are now harvesting the fruits of their sacrifices.  We, together with other sectoral groups are in full support of their struggle.  Your company has no right to obstruct the implementation of fundamental reforms and realization of social justice led by the agri-workers.  Also, this November 16 would be the 5th anniversary of Hacienda Luisita, thus, we join the agri-workers on their call for justice.

 

We are also conveying our message to your co-owner and relative Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who is aspiring to be president on the 2010 presidential elections.  If he is truly aspiring to be president, it is just reasonable that he should banner the interest of poor and powerless Filipinos and not the rich and powerful.  His decisions on Hacienda Luisita would reflect his decisions on the country’s concern.  We are in active watch of his actions on the issue of Hacienda Luisita.

 

Hence, we reiterate our demands from your office to cease and desist in issuing orders such as your letter dated December 18, 2008 and October 16, 2009.  We also caution your office in militarizing the hacienda which would definitely lead to more human rights abuses and deaths. 

 

We are hoping that you would find light in your hearts to submit to the legitimate calls of the agri-workers.  Thank you very much.

 

 

 

For Genuine Land Reform,

 

 ANTONIO FLORES

KMP National Auditor

 EDNA VELARDE

UMA National Coordinator

 

 

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     
     

 

NEWS RELEASE
20 November 2009

Biggest in recent years: Luisita caravan a success

A stunning and historic success.

That is how militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno today described the caravan to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province which it held with other nationalist organizations last Nov. 16, saying it is so far “biggest caravan which progressive organizations in the National Capital Region have conducted in recent years.”

Last Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the massacre, which marred the November 2004 strike of farmers and farm workers in the hacienda and which left seven dead and countless more wounded. To commemorate the massacre, the caravan was launched to demand “Land and justice for the people of Hacienda Luisita!”

“Compared with the 1990 caravan to Central Luzon against the US bases and the 1996 caravan, again to Central Luzon, to protest the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, this one is the biggest,” said Joselito “Lito” Ustarez, KMU executive vice president.

“We have just finished our assessment and that is what the facts tell us,”added Ustarez.

Ustarez said the caravan was able to exceed the target of bringing 2,000 people to the hacienda for the occasion. “We rode more than 100 vehicles, most of which are jeepneys, which carried our calls on the issue. We were able to send our message to the public and the people of Luisita – that we are still carrying on the fight for land and justice.”


 

 

 

KMU said, however, that the most gratifying indicator of the caravan’s success is the reaction of the people in Luisita. “Despite continued repression and harassment, despite the costs of travelling which is already too steep for them, and despite the scorching heat, more than a thousand people from Luisita greeted us,” said Ustarez.
 

“At the forefront of their ranks were the families of the victims of the massacre. Everywhere we went in the hacienda, people were raising their clenched fists in solidarity, waving and smiling at us, and offering their homes to caravan participants. We saw people young and old in a very ecstatic mood,” added Ustarez.

“When we were touring the barangays in the hacienda, caravan participants in the jeeps initiated some chanting. They would say ‘Cojuangco!’ and the people in the streets who were greeting us would reply with ‘Berdugo!’ (butcher). There was a deep sense of solidarity in fighting for a common cause five years after the massacre,” he said.

The labor leader said that aside from land and justice, KMU and other progressive organizations are also calling for the scrapping of the deadline for eviction imposed on farmers by the Luisita management.
“The deadline imposed by the management is one of the main reasons why this issue has again become urgent – contrary to speculations that this is but part of politicking for the coming elections,” said Ustarez.

Ustarez reported that peasant organizations in Tarlac and Central Luzon are organizing a caravan to the NCR this first week of December. “They will register their legitimate calls here in Metro Manila. They hope to put more pressure on the Cojuangco family and the Arroyo regime, who have so far remained deaf to their calls,” he said.

Reference: Lito Ustarez, Executive Vice President, 0908-6491992

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NEWS RELEASE

20 November 2009


Where’s social justice in selling Luisita shares? KMU asks Aquino family 


Selling shares in Hacienda Luisita to fellow land-holding families does not answer the decades-old struggle for land distribution and social justice, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno remarked on the latest decision of the Aquino family amid mounting calls to address the land dispute on the vast Tarlac estate.


In a recent television interview after their publicized family meeting, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz said her siblings “don’t mind selling their holdings to big businessmen who can have businesses there related to agriculture.” But KMU sees the decision as a vain effort to silence criticism and evade the pressing demands of Luisita farmers and farm workers.


“We are utterly dismayed by the decision of the Aquino family to just sell their shares. In the first place, how could they have the right to sell their share if they do not actually own any fraction of the land? Luisita was bought by the Cojuangcos through a government loan, was insulated from distribution through CARP, and now, being withheld again from its rightful owners via change of hands,” said Joselito “Lito” Ustarez, KMU executive vice president.


“Where’s social justice in selling Luisita shares? It is appalling that a flagship land reform problem for years is being reduced to a mere family business problem,” added Ustarez.


Two birds with one stone


Ustarez said earnings from selling the Aquino siblings’ share in the 6,453-hectare estate may also be used to beef up the campaign kitty of presidential aspirant Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, saying the decision “hits two birds with one stone.”

 

 


“With the decision to sell their shares coming out in the run-up to Sen. Aquino’s electoral campaign, we cannot rule out the possibility that earnings from the transaction shall be used as additional fund for Aquino’s presidential bid. That’s an ugly sight,” he said.

 

KMU said “with its latest decision, the Aquino family has reaffirmed its commitment to preventing agrarian reform from taking place in Luisita. 

This, despite the fact that it has imposed a deadline for the eviction of farmers and is conducting an enlistment, which it claims is about knowing the genuine beneficiaries of land reform in the hacienda.”


“Not much has changed in the essence of statements issued by the Aquino family for decades. Farmers and farm workers simply want land distribution, yet they keep on circumventing the root of the dispute,” said Ustarez.  


In defense of a fellow landlord


KMU also criticized Sen. Mar Roxas for defending Sen. Aquino on the Luisita issue instead of pursuing measures that will resolve the land dispute. 


“It comes as no surprise that Sen. Roxas, who also owns vast tracts of land, defends his running mate on a merely political basis rather than uphold the rights of farmers to have their share of land.


“Will Mar be another Noli de Castro who, as vice president, kept defending the president when he should be asking the president to do something?” asked Ustarez. 

Reference: Lito Ustarez, Executive Vice President, 0908-6491992

 

           
     
     
     

BONUS TRACKS

Doves and Bungkalan

     

◄   Doves were released during the mass for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. This dove flew out but returned to land into the clenched fist of an activist.

Photo courtesy of KARAPATAN/dj

     
PHoto courtesy of dj    

 

After tje bloody dispersal the farmworkers started converting sugar land into land cultivated to rice, vegetables and other crops to earn their livelihood and keep their families alive. As of this time, about 2,000 hectares have been cultivated. Last December, the Hacienda Luisita management issued a memo requiring farmworkers to return the land to management, with Oct. 20 and then Nov. 15 as deadline. Nobody complies.

 

Photos by KMP/rm

 

     
     
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