Various groups demand that  the Dutch government

obey the decision of the European Court of First Instance

removing Prof. Jose Maria Sison from the European Union terror list

 

Athens, Greece     New York     Makati City, Philippines

 

Posted: December 6, 2009

 

Video clips

 

 

   

 

Athens: picket rally in front of the Dutch embassy

 

Delegates to the 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) and  the 4th Europewide Conference of Filipino Organizations (ECOFIL)  held a picket  in front of the Dutch embassy in Athens last 4 November.. 

 

The delegates came from  Greece, US, Canada, Hongkong, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Senegal and Mexico.

 

More photos

 

 

New York City: picket at the Dutch Consulate

and PHilippine Consulate

 

Members of the International League of Peoples Struggles, BAYAN-USA and Gabriela USA came out to defend Professor Jose Maria Sison’s rights and urge the European Union to uphold the decision to keep Sison off the terror list.
 

More photos 

Makati City: picket rally in front of the Dutch embassy

 

ILPS Philippine Chapter led a march rally on Dec. 4 in front of lthe Dutch embassy. Partikcpating groups include BAYAN, KMU, Gabriela, L:FS, Anakpawis and other militarnt groups.

 

More photos

     
/p

/p
     
Picket rally in Athens, Greece
           

x

MIGRANTE-Europe

Press release

2 December 2009

Reference: Alex Gregorio, Media Officer

                     Email: mig_europe@yahoo.com

 

Stop Persecuting Prof. Sison. Respect the European Court of First Instance Decision.

           

Delegates of the 2nd International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), 1-4 November, Athens and the 4th Europewide Conference of Filipino Organizations (ECOFIL)  held a picket  in front of the Dutch embassy in Athens last 4 November in solidarity with Prof. Jose Maria Sison. The picketeers carried banners and placards calling for  “Stop Persecuting Prof. Sison” and  “Respect the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) Decision”.  The mass action  was composed of delegates from Greece, US, Canada, Hongkong, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Senegal and Mexico. They presented a petition signed by IAMR and ECOFIL delegates to the Dutch embassy in Athens. A high ranking representative of the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Greece,  Ambassador C. van Rij received the petition and promised to hand the petition to the Dutch Ministry of Justice.

 

The petition made an appeal to the Council of the European Union (EU) and members states of the EU to “stop the oppressive policy of maintaining Prof. Jose Maria Sison in the so-called terrorist blacklist unjustly imposing  cruel sanctions on him and violating his fundamental rights”. It called on the EU to respect the 30 September 2009 judgment of the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) to remove Prof. Sison from the EU terrorist blacklist. The petition  said that “ the unjust  terrorist blacklisting has been used to deprive him of social benefits (living allowance, housing, health insurance and old age pension), ban him from work, deny him residence permit, restrict his right to travel, incite public hatred against him and to invite attacks on his life and dignity as a human being”. The petition concluded that “respect for the judgment of the ECFI and for the rights of Prof. Sison  will allow him to lead a normal life and enable him to become more active and effective as chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines”.

 

 Prof. Sison is the chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), which  encouraged and supported the first and second IAMR and progressive organizations of migrants and refugees the world over.

 

 

 

Picket rally in front of the Dutch embassy in Athens, Greece.

PHotos courtesy of Migreante Europe

           
     
     
     

Picket rally in Makati City, Philippines

December 4, 2009

           

 

COURT OF JUSTICE ANNULS EU DECISION TO MAINTAIN JOSE MARIA SISON IN THE "EU TERRORISM LIST"
ECCHR! EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
EU TERRORIST LIST
http://www.ecchr.de/terror_lists/articles/court-annuls-desicion.html

In a judgment with far-reaching implications, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities (CFI) has annulled the Council acts freezing Jose Maria Sison's funds and including him in the EU "terrorist list".

Mr. Sison, represented among others by ECCHR's general secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, was first included in the list in October 2002. In 2007 the CFI ruled that the inclusion of Sison in the list contravened his right to a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights because the Council had failed to provide him with any reasons for the sanctions and denied him an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

In response to the ruling the EU issued Mr. Sison with a "statement of reasons" explaining its decisions and maintaining him in the list. His lawyers then issued a new application refuting all of the allegations in the statement and arguing that the EU had in effect relied on executive decisions by the Dutch government.

EU law requires any Council decision to include a group or individual on the EU terrorist list to be based on a 'decision taken by a competent authority' concerning the investigation, attempt to commit or commission of terrorist acts. This decision must in turn be based on 'credible evidence'.

On 30 September 2009, the Court ruled that the national decisions relied upon by the Council in order to freeze the applicant's funds did not relate either to the instigation of investigations or prosecution or to a conviction for terrorist activity, contrary to the requirements of Community law.

The Court was unequivocal in its ruling that the Dutch government's decisions clearly do not involve any 'conviction' of Mr Sison, nor do they amount to decisions to instigate investigations or prosecute for a terrorist act.

The judgment has far-reaching implications insofar as it sets a precedent for the EU Courts to examine the substance of the allegations against groups and individuals on the "terrorism list".

Ben Hayes, program manager to ECCHR´s Counterterrorism and Human Rights programme, comments:

"This is a welcome ruling that dispels the notion that people can be designated as "terrorists" by the EU on the mere say so of a member state government. The Court has effectively ruled that executive decisions of this nature have no place in a Europe committed to fundamental rights".

ECJ Press release Sison Judgment.pdf (50.8 kB)

ECJ Sison Judgment 2009-09-30.pdf (222.3 kB)

 

     
     
           
     
     
     
=          
==          
     
     
     
           

x

 

APPRECIATION FOR FIVE MEMBERS OF DUTCH SENATE
FOR QUESTIONS ON THE PLIGHT OF PROF. JOSE MARIA SISON

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
9 November 2009

We, the International Committee DEFEND, wish to express our heartfelt gratitude and high appreciation to five members of the Dutch First Chamber (Senate), who belong to various major parties, for raising last 3 November 2009 questions aimed at upholding the rule of law and the human rights of Professor Jose Maria Sison.

The aforesaid members of the Senate are Ms M. H. A. Strik (Groen Links), Ms M. Westerveld (Partij van de Arbeid ), H. Franken (Christen Democratisch Appel), Ms A. C. Quik-Schuijt (Socialist Party) and J. W. M. Engels (D 66).

They addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the State Secretary of Justice and the Minister of Social Affairs and Work Opportunity the following questions:

  1. Is the government aware of the judgment of the Court of first instance of 30 September 2009, whereby the Court declared null Regulation (EC) no. 501/2009 and the related Decisions from 2007, insofar as these concern Mr. Sison? (1)

  2. Is higher appeal being considered against this judgment? What position shall the Dutch government take during the discussion in the Council on this possibility, also taking into consideration that the Court of first instance considers all earlier invoked grounds to put Mr. Sison on the list do not give any basis for such placement [on the list]. Will the government suggest to the Council new grounds for placement on the list? If so, what new grounds?

  3. Do you consider the ruling of the REK of 1997 still sufficient substantiation for the decision not to grant Mr. Sison a residence permit, since Article 13 and 18 of the Definition guidelines (2) oblige the granting of permit as soon as the right to protection is established? Do you still see reasons for the application of an exclusion ground from this guideline, now that the judicial power both in the Philippines and in The Netherlands has rejected every criminal prosecution?

  4. Do you consider that the continuing refusal of a residence permit to the concerned still proportional? Can you in your answer present the criteria which the Administrative Law Division of the Raad van State [Council of State] of 2 June 2004 formulated (3) and the fact that according to the ruling of 1997 there was insufficient ground to invoke Article 1 (F) of the Refugee Convention against the concerned?

  5. Is it just that the concerned on the ground of Article 3 EVRM cannot be expelled from The Netherlands and yet every assistance for basic needs for survival is denied him? If so, do you consider this to be in accordance with the fundamental rights as guaranteed in the ESH [European Social Charter], the EVRM and the Charter for Fundamental Rights? How do you judge in this light the applicability of Article 9 and 11 IVESCR [International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights], also taking into account the hereto pertinent General Comments from 2008 and Conclusion 11 of the Concluding Observations of 2006 of the UN Committee of this convention (CESCR)? (4)

We hope that the foregoing questions will encourage the Dutch government to respect and give due course to the 30 September 2009 judgment of the European Court of First Instance in favor of Prof. Sison against the Council of the European Union (EU) for unjustly putting him on the terrorist blacklist.

We call on the Dutch government to desist from becoming a party to the filing of a frivolous appeal by the Council of EU or be responsible for any other undertaking to prevent and delay the justice that Prof. Sison deserves. We urge the Dutch government to allow Prof. Sison to enjoy his fundamental rights and live a normal life in The Netherlands.

We hope that the Dutch government will heed the just purpose of the questions from the broad nonpartisan array of senators, including members of parties in the ruling coalition as well as those in the opposition.

The Senate plays a major role in scrutinizing the actions of the Government. Statements made by government ministers in debates carry weight in future lawsuits. The members of the Senate can elicit undertakings from ministers about the implementation of a law.###

(1) Judgment of the Court (Seventh chamber) of 30 September 2009, T-341/07.
(2) Guideline 2004/83/EC
(3) Case no. 200308845/1, JV 2004/279.
(4) General Comment no. 19, 2008, paragraph 31, 34 and 36 up to and including 38, and paragraph 50 and 51; Concluding Observations, 24 November 2006, conclusion 11.

For reference:
Ruth de Leon
International Coordinator-DEFEND
Telephone: 00-31-30-8895306
Email: defenddemrights@yahoo.com

Email: defenddemrights@yahoo.com
Website: www.defendsison.be
Telephone: 00-31-30-8895306
Fax: 00-31-847589930
Address: Amsterdamsestraatweg 50, 3513 AG Utrecht, The Netherlands

 

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

xON TRADE AND CLIMATE ISSUES AGAINST WTO
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of People's Struggle
30 November 2009

November 30, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Seattle.  We remember this for shutting down the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Ministerial Meeting through militant street protests and mass mobilizations by indignant workers, farmers, students and peoples from various countries. 

The Battle of Seattle followed the People's Assembly against the WTO, in which as keynote speaker I delivered on November 28, 1999 a comprehensive address criticizing and condemning imperialist globalization and calling for people's resistance and I announced the work of the International Initiative Committee to form the International League of Peoples' Struggle.  The denial of permit to the Rally-March of the aforesaid assembly resulted in a protest picket that served as prelude to the protest marches, which led further to the Battle of Seattle.

Since then, monopoly capitalists have attempted to push imperialist globalization even further through a new round of the WTO as well as bilateral or regional "free trade" pacts.  But people's resistance has blockaded the WTO at each turn -- frustrating the Ministerial meetings in Doha (2001), Cancun (2003) and Hong Kong (2005) -- with the vital participation of members of the International League of Peoples' Struggles. 

The 7th WTO Ministerial meeting to be held on November 30 to December 2, 2009 in Geneva is the latest attempt by monopoly capitalists to revive the Doha Round of trade talks, and this time with an increased sense of  desperation. Through the WTO, monopoly capitalists, the finance oligarchy, and heads of imperialist states are trying to hoodwink poor and indebted countries into further opening up their economies to surplus goods and capital from the advanced industrial capitalist countries. 

They  vainly hope that by exporting more goods to other countries, gaining access to cheaper raw materials and exploiting cheaper labor, they can overcome the gravest crisis that has wracked the world capitalist system since the 1930s.  But rather than resolve it, it will only worsen the global crisis of overproduction and the destruction of productive forces especially in poor and oppressed countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Agribusiness monopolies, for example, want expanded Agreement on Agriculture that would allow them to continue dumping their highly subsidized products into poor countries while opposing the introduction of even token measures of protection for food and other goods that are most sensitive to the latter.

Meanwhile the imperialist states have  increased rather than reduced or eliminated the agricultural subsidies that they provide to the monopoly firms that supply seeds, farm inputs and machinery, and control trading. This exacerbates the global overproduction of agricultural commodities and destroys the livelihood of millions of peasants and small farmers in the third world who cannot compete against these global giants. 

Smallholders with limited access to land, water, modern inputs, credit, post-harvest facilities, and other farm support become suppliers of agribusiness corporations or agricultural workers.  Either way they face declining incomes and greater insecurity as a growing share of farm income is appropriated by local landlords, traders, usurers and global agribusiness giants that monopolize farm inputs and international trade. 

Local big landlords, comprador capitalists and  foreign financial speculators are taking over millions of hectares of land and forests to plant biofuels or to convert them to special economic zones and commercial centers.  This is exacerbating food insecurity and hunger and poverty on an unprecedented scale.

Fisheries are also under threat by the WTO since the imperialist states are insisting on reducing tariffs for the entire fisheries sector.  This will accelerate the depletion of marine resources and the displacement of fisherfolk and coastal communities whose livelihood depend on these resources, especially when combined with unequal Fisheries Access Agreements through which the heavily subsidised industrial fishing fleets from imperialist countries gain access to the territorial waters of poor countries which are already over-fished. 

In the manufacturing industries, imperialist states are pushing for the imposition of steep additional tariff cuts on manufacturing goods entering third world countries and introduce new rules which would prevent the use of tariffs to protect strategic or infant industries in the latter.  On the other hand, these same imperialist states are increasing their own applied tariffs as a way of saving industrial monopolies from going bust in the midst of the global depression. 

Even bourgeois economists warn that this will result in more bankruptcies, lay-offs and deindustrialization in poor countries.  It will also drastically reduce revenues for social spending and public investment. 

Imperialist states are dangling the prospect of liberalizing the entry of workers from poor countries suffering from chronic unemployment in exchange for the liberalized entry of transnational corporations (TNCs) in key services sectors, such as financial services, energy, and telecommunications.  This paves the way for greater foreign monopoly capitalist control over strategic sectors such as mass media and utilities. 

The monopoly bourgeoisie of the leading imperialist countries is using the current global financial, food and climate crisis as the justification for an early conclusion of the Doha Round.  In fact, the WTO is one of the principal instruments by which the monopoly bourgeoisie has enforced policies that engendered and continue to worsen these crises.

WTO rules prevent countries from adopting new financial regulations that restrict the operations of “financial service suppliers.”  They do not allow the banning of fictitious financial products such as derivatives, and they do not allow restrictions on the size or form of financial firms (not even to reduce systemic financial risk).  In short, the WTO bars regulations that place limits on the predatory practices of finance capital and the inflation of financial bubbles that precipitate financial crises.

The WTO integrates more farmers and agricultural output into the global market.  The more food production is oriented towards serving foreign markets rather than domestic needs, the more transnational corporations – commodity traders, food processors, and global retailers -- increase their stranglehold over the global food system; and the more food becomes inaccessible to those who need it the most.  It is precisely the monopoly capitalist control of global agriculture and the food system that has spread the global famine now afflicting over a billion people in the world.

Likewise, trade liberalization encourages the growth of energy-intensive industries , the expansion of chemical-intensive corporate farms, increases the extraction and burning of fossil fuels; deforestation; and other major drivers of global warming.  WTO rules also prevent governments from adopting environmental and social regulations that restrict the operations and profits of monopoly capitalist firms including measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The liberalization of trade in so-called climate-friendly goods and services is being hyped up as a means of mitigating climate change.   In fact, TNCs which supply these goods merely want to use a new WTO agreement to widen their market access and at the same time strengthen and extend their monopoly patents over  technologies which hardly make a dent on aggregate GHG emissions.  Biotech firms are now stockpiling patents on what they claim to be climate-resilient crops which they hope to market widely with the aid of the WTO.

The imperialist states within the WTO remain united in their interest to pass on the burden of coping with these crises onto the shoulders of the working classes, especially in the poor and oppressed countries.  However, inter-imperialist competition is also at play inside the WTO as each of the advanced capitalist countries resorts to increasing protectionist measures.

Such protectionist measures include domestic subsidies that form part of stimulus programs and trade barriers that limit market access for exporters from other countries in the hope of reviving their own domestic economies. This is the reason why even third world governments representing comprador elite interests have so far refused to acquiesce to imperialist demands for more market opening. 

This accounts for the ambivalence of imperialist spokespersons who, after using every multilateral gathering of imperialist states and major economies this past year to call for the earliest possible conclusion of the Doha Round, are now saying this December’s Ministerial meeting would just be a stock-taking exercise rather than a negotiation. 

At the same time, this may be a bluff to further divide the ranks of poor countries and goad the governments of some of the latter to concede a few key demands in order to have a basis for negotiations.  This was already the tendency displayed by India’s comprador ruling class during the WTO’s mini-ministerial meeting held in New Delhi last October. 

It becomes more imperative for peoples’ movements not to be complacent and to be vigilant  and militant about the future of the WTO’s Doha Round and the neoliberal project in general.  After serving their interests well for the last three decades, monopoly capitalists are not about to give up neoliberalism anytime soon. 

But history is against them.  The rottenness of the monopoly capitalist system itself, not just the neoliberal project, is laid bare by the grave crises devastating the people and the planet today.  More than ever, it is imperative that we not only push back against the expansion of the WTO and other imperialist instrumentalities, but to fight for their outright dismantling.

It is high time that we call for the building of a new international economic and political order that is premised on equitable and mutually beneficial relations among nations and oriented towards the fulfilment of social needs rather than private profit and the private accumulation of capital. 

As the monopoly bourgeoisie tries to preserve its wealth and power, the more resolute the people should become in waging militant struggles for greater freedom, democracy, social justice, development and world peace.  The progressive mass movements and revolutionary forces of the people of the world will surely gain strength  and advance in the struggles for national and social liberation against imperialism and all reaction.  ###

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
 
     
     

 

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF ILPS
SUCCESSFULLY HOLDS MEETING IN THE NETHERLANDS
23 November 2009

The International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) successfully held its plenary meeting on 21-22 November 2009 in The Netherlands and made important decisions to strengthen the ILPS as a broad united front of mass organizations along the anti-imperialist and democratic line.

The ICC meeting was presided by Prof. Jose Maria Sison, ICC chairperson. Twenty-three (23) out of 27 members of the ICC were present in person and by proxy. All ICC members had been given due notice of the meeting since 18 September 2009.

The ICC received the separate reports and recommendations of its officers who composed the International Coordinating Group (ICG) and those of commissions and territorial organs. The ICC praised the significant achievements scored by the ILPS since the last ICC meeting in February and congratulated the ICC organs and member-organizations concerned.

Among the most outstanding achievements of the ILPS since the ICC in February 2009 were activities and campaigns to arouse, organize and mobilize the broad masses of the people to fight for national and social liberation against the relentless worsening of the crisis of the world capitalist system and against the escalating level of imperialist plunder and war.

The ICC approved the ICC chairperson's report and recommendations to strengthen the ICC and the ILPS as a whole. Accordingly, the ICC subjected its officers to a vote of confidence and elected a new set of officers. ICC chairperson Prof. Sison and others were reelected. A few were not reelected. As a consequence, the ICG and the General Secretariat of the ILPS have been reconstituted.

The ICC criticized the sectarian current to confuse ideological building of parties with the ILPS as a broad united front of mass organizations along the anti-imperialist and democratic line and misconstrue united front policy and work as opportunism. The ICC noted that the sectarian elements had not contributed to the building of the ILPS, had turned off prospective member-organizations and had stifled the building of global region committees and national chapters of the ILPS.

Since the Second International Assembly of the ILPS in 2004, the same sectarian elements had also disrupted meetings and activities of the ILPS by unduly raising ideological issues and derailing the approved agenda and had sought to prevent the ICC chairperson from exercising his mandate as chief representative and spokesperson of the ILPS.

The ICC decided on major plans of actions in order to strengthen the ILPS politically and organizationally. Among the political plans are to cooperate with a broad range of organizations and forces in holding seminars and generating mass campaigns on the global economic crisis and its consequences, an international women’s conference in Montreal, Canada in August 2010 and an international forum on political prisoners in October 2010 in Denmark. It also decided to intensify efforts to strengthen and activate the commissions and to build global region committees and national chapters.

The ICC directed the ICG to accelerate the processing of applications for membership in the ILPS and to urge ILPS member-organizations to gather and recommend new applications. The ICC also directed the ICG to make preparations for the Fourth International Assembly.

Immediately after the adjournment of the ICC meeting, the newly composed ICG met to discuss the tasks mandated by the ILPS charter, the Third International Assembly and by the ICC. The ICC officers are determined to carry out their individual and collective tasks between meetings of the ICC.###

 

 

 

     
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York City

November 12, 2009

           

 

For Immediate Release

Press Release

 

Reference: Anakbayan New York/ New Jersey, Email: anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

 

New York Says DEFEND Jose Maria Sison!

 

“Sino, sino, sinong terorista? Ang US, si Gloria, hinding hindi si Joma (Who, who, who is the terrorist? The US, Gloria, Not Joma!),” reverberated in front of the Philippine Consulate, on November 12, 2009. Members of the International League of Peoples Struggles, BAYAN-USA and Gabriela USA came out to defend Professor Jose Maria Sison’s rights and urge the European Union to uphold the decision to keep Sison off the terror list.

 

The activists then marched towards the Dutch consulate on Rockefeller Center. Passers-by have cheered the marchers shouting ‘US, stop human rights abuses’.

 

Last September 30, 2009, Professor Jose Ma. Sison won a favorable judgment by the European court of First Instance (ECFI) in his complaint against the Council of European Union (EU) for unjustly placing him of its latter’s terrorist black list since October 28, 2002. The judgment of the ECFI cancels the previous decision and regulation by EU of its terror blacklist.

 

“Now, Joma got his small bank account unfrozen, he got back his social benefits and health insurance, he can now render professional services, his right to travel among other things. In other words, he got his dignity back,” Berna Ellorin of BAYAN USA stated.

 

But the Council of the European Union might still decide to take an appeal to further delay and deny justice for Sison.  The EU has until December 10 to appeal the decision of ECFI.

 

“It is inconceivable how the council of EU can make a serious appeal on any question of law in view of the fact that the ECFI has ruled on substantial issues and has declared that Sison has never been investigated, prosecuted or convicted for any specific act of terrorism and that the Dutch court’s decision on his asylum case and on the false murder charge cannot be used as basis for black listing him as a terrorist,” according to a statement by the International committee DEFEND.

 

“Headed by US, EU and Dutch government have based their accusations on the false premise of terrorism and common crimes supplied by the Philippine government. These countries have basically obstructed the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippine through the listing of Jose Maria Sison as a terrorist,” said Melanie Dulfo of Gabriela-USA.

 

Even though Sison was delisted from the EU Terror list, He is still included in the US State Department’s terror list since August 12, 2002.

 

“Until then, we will continue the pressure to keep Prof. Sison off the EU and US State Department Terror list. Justice for Joma Sison, is Justice for all of us who are working towards a long lasting peace,” said Yves Nibungco, chairperson of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

 

Prof. Jose Maria Sison is the general consultant of International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) and has been the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). Prof. Sison is a recognized political refugee under the protection of the Refugee convention and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms.###

 

 
       
           
Video Clips
   
   
   
 
   
   
   
   
   

 

LAND AND JUSTICE FOR THE PEASANTS
AND FARM WORKERS OF HACIENDA LUISITA

Issued by the Office of the Chairperson
International League of Peoples' Struggle
16 November2009

Today, the working people of the world are launching various forms of protest actions to mark the International Day of Action against Trade Union Repression. This provides a meaningful context for commemorating and protesting the massacre of striking peasants and farm workers in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province in the Philippines in 2004. The working people of Hacienda Luisita exemplify the plight and struggle of the working people of semicolonial and semifeudal countries, who still comprise the majority of the world’s population.

Hacienda Luisita is the vast 6,000-hectare tract of land in Central Luzon owned by the wealthy and powerful Cojuangco family to which former Pres. Corazon “Cory” Aquino belonged . It stands as a bulwark of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation and oppression within the context of the world capitalist system. It demonstrates how the big comprador-landlords exploit the working people and wield state power to oppress them. It exposes as a sham the so-called “comprehensive agrarian reform program” that the Aquino ruling clique had launched since the 1980s.

Earlier the Cojuangco family bought Hacienda Luisita from the Spanish Tabacalera corporation with a loan from the government in the 1950s. The loan was granted with the provision that a major portion of the land (2000 hectares) would be distributed later on to the peasants, within the frame of the government’s “land reform” program.

The Cojuangco family not only failed to distribute the designated portion of the land, it maneuvered to keep it and used violence to suppress those who demanded land reform. In 1985, a trial court ruled that the lands be distributed to the peasants, but 1986 saw the ascent to the presidency of Aquino. The Aquino regime crafted an agrarian reform program which was riddled with so many exemptions, including one called the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that was used to exempt Luisita from land distribution.

In this context, we can fully appreciate the significance of the strike launched by Luisita peasants and farm workers in November 2004. They were protesting the P9.50 take-home pay per day at the hacienda – a result of the Stock Distribution Option scheme hatched by the Cojuangcos and the landlord class to gain legal exemption from the fake agrarian reform program being implemented by the government. They were also protesting the dismissal of 300 workers from the hacienda’s sugar refinery, an act intended to bust the local union which was then becoming militant.

Before and during their strike, the peasants and farm workers of Luisita – with the active support of patriotic and progressive mass organizations and alliances throughout the country, and with the help of alternative media – won the attention and sympathy of the working people of the country and the world. Many among the urban petty-bourgeoisie in the Philippines were shocked to learn about concrete forms of feudal exploitation and oppression that were persisting in the countryside. The working people of the Philippines and the world applauded and encouraged the working people of Luisita .

The Cojuangcos, the big comprador-landlord classes, and the reactionary state were all shamed by the justness of the calls of the Luisita peasants and farm workers. They reacted swiftly and viciously to the strike. Patricia Sto. Tomas, then-labor secretary of the US-backed regime of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, issued an Assumption of Jurisdiction order on the issue, ordering the strikers to go back to work and authorizing the deployment of military and police forces to dismantle the strike. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., who was widely believed to have been promoted to his post for helping Mrs. Arroyo cheat in the 2004 elections, was the military’s chief of staff.

The military and police forces went to the hacienda, bringing tanks, tear gas, and high-powered rifles. The Luisita peasants and farm workers stood their ground. With their unity and militance, they repelled various attempts at breaking the strike. Thousands upon thousands of workers, peasants and farm workers, together with their women folk, locked arms and pushed away with their bodies the military and police who were armed with shields. After reaching the ground, canisters of tear gas thrown by the military were immediately covered with soil. A farmer, speaking to the military, summed up their spirit: “Since you are already killing us, we might as well die fighting.” These could only have aroused fear and panic in the hearts of the oppressors..

In the afternoon of November 16, 2004,after the strikers promised in a negotiation with military and police officials to lay down the pieces of wood they were holding for defending themselves and to defend the strike with just their bodies, the military and police forces opened fire. A few minutes of gunfire left Jhaivie Basilio, Adriano Caballero, Jhune David, Jesus Laza, Juancho Sanchez, Jaime Pastidio and Jessie Valdez fatally wounded. Some of them could have been kept alive, but hospitals in Cojuangco-dominated Tarlac refused to admit patients from the hacienda. Calling for land to the tillers, they died fighting for the just cause of the peasants and farm workers of Luisita and the country.

The owners of the hacienda, the reactionary government and the bourgeois mass media tried to spread the canard that it was the Luisita farmers and farm workers who started the violence and that it was fighters of the New People’s Army,.who started the shooting. Their propaganda could not stand up to the truth of the audio-visual evidence taken by progressive filmmakers who covered the strike. The bursts of gunfire came from the ranks of the military and the police. Subsequently, death squads of the military went on a spree killing strike leaders and supporters, including a bishop and a city councilor.

 

 

While the touters of the reactionary justice system in the Philippines often cite the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied,” justice has clearly been delayed and has been denied to the peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita. Five years after the massacre, no one has been punished for the crime. There are many victims, but none of the criminal perpetrators is imprisoned. Investigation of the cases has been proceeding at snail pace, and the only significant development is that de facto president Arroyo, her labor secretary Sto. Tomas and the military butcher Esperon have been removed from the list of those charged. The ones remaining on the sham charge sheet are the police and military officers who tested positive in paraffin tests. But they are scot free and biding their time.

The power of the labor secretary to issue Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) orders remains in place – despite the graphic demonstration by what happened in Luisita of its lethal consequences for working people. After the massacre, the labor secretary issued AJ orders for numerous workplaces in Central Luzon, thus facilitating the militarization of that region. Since it was approved as part of the Labor Code in 1989, the AJ has been used as license to suppress workers’ actions in workplaces throughout the country. It is being imposed even before a strike is initiated – when collective bargaining negotiations end in deadlock or when notices of strike are filed before the government.

Pressured by the strike and the widespread condemnation of the massacre locally and internationally, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), in December 2005, revoked the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme being implemented in the hacienda and placed the lands previously under the SDO into the “compulsory coverage” scheme of the government’s agrarian reform program. The Hacienda Luisita management, losing no time, filed for a Temporary Restraining Order in January 2006 against the resolution. In June 2006, the Supreme Court issued a TRO and ordered the PARC and the Department of Agrarian Reform to implement the revocation of the SDO.

Seeing the opportunity in this deadlock, and knowing that waiting for government intervention will get them nowhere, the peasants and farm workers of the hacienda took the initiative and launched their “kampanyang bungkal” or campaign to till, which called on all working people of the hacienda to plant crops that are necessary for everyday nourishment, such as rice and vegetables, and can be sold for added income, such as fruits. With the participation of more than a thousand families, the hacienda land, which used to showcase sugarcane, now boasts of golden fields of rice. The campaign caused an improvement in the lives and livelihood of the working people of Luisita.

The Cojuangco family, however, has not given up on the fight to own the Luisita lands. Last December 2008, emboldened by the passage of a law extending the government’s anti-peasant agrarian reform program – which still contained the SDO as one of the (non-)distribution schemes – the Hacienda Luisita management issued a memorandum to the peasants tilling the 2,000-hectare portion of the hacienda which ordered them to stop using the lands for whatever purpose. After a public clamor directed at Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III – a member of the Cojuangco family who’s running in the 2010 presidential elections – the Hacienda Luisita management was forced to backtrack.

Now, the Hacienda Luisita management is carrying out what it calls an “enlistment” of peasants who would become the “beneficiaries” of agrarian reform in the hacienda – as if it were the authorized body to implement agrarian reform in that area and as if it were authorized to do so despite the TRO. It is complaining of “illegal tillers” encroaching upon the hacienda, who are actually the working people of Luisita. It is also undertaking land-use conversion schemes in various parts of the land. The creation of a vast highway that passes through the hacienda is being seen as an opportunity to increase the value of hacienda land and an opening to commercial uses of portions of the hacienda.

Five years after the massacre, the struggle of the Luisita peasants and farm workers for justice, including the junking of the Assumption of Jurisdiction power of the labor secretary, and land continues. They deserve the full support of the working people of the Philippines and the whole world. We hope that our International Day of Action against Trade Union Repression and the fifth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre will be an occasion for working people everywhere to discuss and raise the issues of trade union repression in their work places and countries. We should not allow trade union repression to weaken our ranks and spirit. It should goad us to fight back and gain strength through struggle.

We have to continue and intensify our struggle not just against trade union repression but also against the forms of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation which are aligned with the world capitalist system. Let us keep in mind that monopoly capitalist control of global agriculture and the food system has now created a global famine afflicting over a billion people for the first time in world history.

The struggle of the Luisita peasants and farm workers is instructive. It is only through the militant struggle of working people that they can gain strength and aim for their national and social liberation. We may win victories in our struggle for reforms within the present world capitalist system but these will continue to be at risk until we, the people of the world, are strong enough to overthrow the exploiters and oppressors.###

           
           
**          

 

 
 

Google