Solidarity Mass for the Struggle of the Hacienda Luisita Agricultural Workers,

Candle-lighting in front of the church

 

Sto. Doming Church, Quezon City

 

August 17, 2010

 

 

Bishop Teodoro Bacani and Fr. Jose Dizon
   
   
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NATIONAL CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
Secretariat: Solidarity Philippines - Room 106, CICM Guest House Building
No. 60, 14th St., New Manila, Quezon City
Telephone Number: 510-0734 Mobile: 0919-5965789
E-Mail Address: nationalclergydiscernment2009@gmail.com

Convenors Msgr. Manuel G. Gabriel Fr. Jose P. Dizon Fr. Mario H. Agunod Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm Fr. Jesus M. Malit, SSS Fr. Wilfredo Dulay, MJ Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR Msgr. Elmer Abacahin Msgr. Rey Monsanto Secretariat Solidarity Philippines

17 August 2010

Statement on Hacienda Luisita Compromise Agreement
(Statement of CBCP-NASSA and National Clergy Discernment Group)

The Church in the Philippines acknowledges that “agrarian reform is still the one big issue that touches our rural poor most directly.” The agenda for social justice and the realization of our preferential love for the poor are seriously tested in our resolve to address the problem of inequity and rural poverty through our commitment to implement genuine land reform (Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council, No. 391).

The case of the reported compromise deal in the 21-year dispute in Hacienda Luisita was taunted as a breakthrough in the effort to end the long-standing agrarian issue over the 6,500-hectare land owned by the Cojuangcos, the family of President Benigno Aquino III. The deal could have been a cause for celebration if not for a number of questionable processes and highly inequitable terms contained in the said agreement whose reported approval of the farmers was brokered by the company itself, the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

We will laud and support any initiative to immediately resolve the two-decade land dispute, but it should be in a manner that is fair and would uphold the farmers’ rightful claim to the land. The unusual haste that characterizes the whole process of arriving at a compromise makes the deal all the more questionable and suspicious. Hence, we raise the following issues below to question the supposed terms of agreements and the process by which the compromise was crafted.

In 2005, the directive from the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) explicitly called for the redistribution of 4,415 hectares of the 6,500 hectarage under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Implementation of this order was stalled by the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) granted by the Supreme Court. But the present compromised agreement totally disregarded the DAR order and made the farmers accept the lopsided sharing scheme - with the farmer-beneficiaries being offered only 33% of the land or only 1,400 hectares out of the 6,500-hectare property. Clearly, this arrangement is disproportionately in favor of the HLI and totally contradicting the social justice intent of the law. In effect, the farmers will end up owning very small parcel of the land for the sprawling land estate would be divided among 10,502 CARP beneficiaries, based on the list submitted by Hacienda Luisita management. And the list itself actually needs meticulous scrutiny and verification.

The compromised agreement also made provision for the implementation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), which is in fact, already revoked by DAR in the same order in 2005. The SDO scheme is unacceptable for it is an outright circumvention of the agrarian provision for land distribution. And it is worth mentioning that in the twenty one years of implementing the SDO, it had not lifted the farmers out of their impoverished and vulnerable state. The SDO scheme facilitated the virtual surrender of the farmers of their rightful claims to the agricultural lands of the hacienda in exchange for a pittance or meager shares of capital stock and production shares.

The much-ballyhooed compromised agreement on Hacienda Luisita’s estate was also tainted with anomalous processes in the way the company chose representatives for the farmer sector. The present leadership both of ULWU (United Luisita Workers’ Union) and AMBALA (Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita), question the authority of the company-designated leaders, namely Noel Mallari and Eldifonso Pingol, to represent the organizations that had already disowned and expelled them a long time ago.

Moreover, the manner of obtaining farmers and workers signatures was also dubious in view of the allegation of bribe-offers disguised as “financial package” or “monetary benefits.” We acknowledge the fact that destitution in Hacienda Luisita would drive the farmers to seek immediate and temporary relief from their economic woes, hence making the compensation package of the SDO an enticing option. But the strategy of capitalizing on peoples’ poverty to trick them into accepting the disadvantageous compromise is another form of grave injustice committed against the farmers.

In the light of the foregoing, we denounce the compromise deal in Hacienda Luisita as a grand scheme to thwart the implementation of the agrarian reform law and a pre-emptive strategy to influence the Supreme Court decision on the TRO case pending for resolution soon.

To serve the interest of justice, we appeal to President Benigno Aquino III to fulfill his pro-poor platform of governance by implementing the agrarian law and by not honoring the compromise deal that ran counter to the constitutional mandate that the entire 4,415 hectares of land should be distributed to the plantation farmers. The President cannot feign neutrality in this issue, for his silence and inaction will mean an implicit endorsement of the unjust compromise deal orchestrated by Cojuangco-owned HLI. If land reform cannot be implemented in Hacienda Luisita, we see no possibility of implementing it in any place at all. Hindi na kami pwedeng mangarap . . . sa pagpapatupad ng tunay na katarungan para sa mga mahihirap!

Concretely, we appeal that the compromise deal be set aside and allow a genuine and transparent process of consultation with the farmers be conducted, allowing them to understand the full range of options available and the advantageous counter-proposal that will truly benefit their sector. This initiative should be carried out by DAR, in partnership with the legitimate farmers’ and workers’ organizations.

We believe that the social justice agenda of the Aquino administration will be loudly spelled by the decisive intervention of the President to push for the rights of the farmers over and above the sinister attempt of the Cojuangcos to retain ownership of the CARP-able hacienda.

We affirm the social teaching of the Church that explicitly underlines that “the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that the goods are meant for everyone” (Laborem Exercens, No. 14).

We will continue to pray and work for the resolution of agrarian conflicts so that so that justice and the Lord’s peace may be truly realized.

 

     
     
     
           
           
     
     
           

 

For immediate Release
August 7, 2010

LUISITA DEAL IS INVALID. COJUANCO-AQUINO AND THE ALLEGED FARMERS’
REPRESENTATIVES MAY BE LIABLE FOR CONTEMPT

Reference:
Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga
0929-7021549

“HLI management has not learned its lessons in 1989, continues the crooked way of dealing with the farm workers”, says Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, Executive Trustee of Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) and the lawyer of farm workers who petitioned for the revocation of the SDO in Hacienda Luisita. The case is now pending in the Supreme Court.

Mallari et al had no authority to make the deal

According to Pahilga, the persons who signed the deal purportedly in behalf of the farm workers had no authority to enter into the settlement not to mention that the agreement is illegal as it violates the existing agrarian reform laws.

He volunteers the information that Noel Mallari, who claims to be the president of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), has never been president of Ambala and he had long been ousted from the organization for acts inimical to the farm workers. He said that the records of the case pending before the Supreme Court would reveal that he claimed to represent FARM Luisita, not Ambala. “This Mallari is an impostor”, he said and continued, “He is biting on an HLI proposal that was already vehemently rejected by the farmworkers in 2006”.

“Noel Mallari was the Vice-President of Ambala when its more than 6,000 members filed the petition to revoke the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2004. When the case was pending with the DAR, however, Mallari was kicked out of Ambala as he secretly negotiated with the Luisita management without authority from the farm workers. Thus, even before the Hacienda Luisita massacre happened, Mallari is not anymore a member or officer of Ambala. After the massacre, Mallari reappeared and represented himself as President of FARM Luisita. In the case, before the Supreme Court, it was only Ambala as represented by its President Rene Galang, and the Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. that were impleaded as private respondents. But Mallari, through FARM Luisita filed a petition-in-intervention for and in behalf of FARM Luisita. Thus, he became party to the case. Clearly, Mallari has no personality to represent the 6,000 strong members of
Ambala because he never was the president of Ambala but of FARM Luisita. But, like Ambala, it appears that FARM Luisita is also not amenable to the deal entered into by Mallari. This is for which reason that we will file a petition to cite Mallari and HLI management in contempt of court. Mallari misrepresented himself as the president of Ambala even when he did not hold such position and is not even a member of Ambala. On the otherhand, the Luisita management, to muddle the issue, is equally guilty of contempt for negotiating the deal with Mallari when they also know that Mallari has no personality to represent Ambala. They should know this because of the Supreme Court case that they filed where Mallari is a party as representative of FARM Luisita. Records of the Supreme Court would also show that as early as January 2010, Felix Nakpil, as the president of Ambala filed a motion to cite HLI management in contempt as they were issuing statements through the Luisita Estate Management to confuse the farmers and muddle the issue at the Supreme Court, according to Pahilga.

“Jose Julio Zuniga and Windsor Aadaya, on the other hand, were the clients of SENTRA in the case before the Supreme Court. They represented the Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita, which is composed of more or less 200 persons. However, after the Supreme Court issued the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that prevented the DAR to revoke the SDO and distribute the land to the farmers, they no longer communicated with SENTRA. SENTRA learned that they were given vast tract of land by Luisita management to cultivate and planted with sugar cane. Thus, while the farm workers were struggling daily to make a living, they lived affluent lives courtesy of the Luisita management. Even then, SENTRA already learned that they were co-opted by the Luisita management. Thus, we do not anymore wonder why they signed the deal. However, we do not know whether in signing the agreement, they were given the green light by the rest of the members of the Supervisory Group” added Pahilga.

“The same is true with Edilberto Pingol. He was the Vice-President of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU). But contrary to their assertion in the agreement, ULWU is not a party to the Supreme Court case. HLI management very well knows this. Moreover, Pingol could not represent ULWU as he was not given the authority to represent the farm workers’ union” according to Pahilga.

“We will definitely question in all forums available to us the standing of these individuals with whom HLI management negotiated and hold them accountable for their acts”, Pahilga asserted.

The agreement is contrary to law

“The agreement stated that the farm workers have two options – to continue with the SDO scheme or to have the land actually distributed to them. In the event that the farm workers opt for actual land distribution, they will be given the equivalent percentage of the size of the land from the remaining HLI land actually devoted to agriculture, with a total area of 4,102 hectares, approximately. This means that the farm workers will only be given 33% of the 4,102 hectares, which in effect, will total only to 1,400 hectares. This 1,400 will be divided to the farm workers who will opt for land distribution while the rest of the land will remain with HLI. This is worst that the original SDO agreement of 1989. Moreover, HLI has no right to retain the rest of the land because they should be covered by the existing agrarian reform program. Under the existing law, agricultural land in excess of 5 hectares shall be distributed to the farmers. Clearly, HLI is subverting the law to maintain
their control and ownership of hacienda Luisita.

The referendum is also illegal

The “referendum” conducted by the HLI management purportedly to make the farm workers choose whether they would continue under the SDO scheme or get a piece of HLI lands, is also illegal, according to Pahilga.

“It is illegal because the PARC decision to cover the HLI lands for agrarian reform still stands and unless this decision is reversed, the lands are effectively under the jurisdiction of DAR”. Pahilga said. He explained that the TRO issued by the Supreme Court merely restrained the implementation of the Presidential Agrarian Reforms Council’s (PARC) decision but the decision is valid as things stand. He asserted that only DAR had the authority to decide on what to do with the HLI lands as they are already placed under the agrarian reform program.

Pahilga pointed out that the “referendum” was not supervised by DAR. He says that the HLI act of conducting a “referendum” has all the badges of maliciously defying the Department.

In relation thereto, he recalled that the Supreme Court had already set this August 18 the oral argument on the HLI petition against the PARC’s decision. He then pointed out that it was HLI who went to the Supreme Court to question the validity of the PARC decision so that it ethically behooves of the HLI to wait for the Court to decide on the matter.

Bad landlords

“The Cojuangos-Aquinos are not only bad landlords, they are also bad drivers recklessly trying to beat the green light which is to come after the oral argument called by the Supreme Court”, Pahilga said, emphasizing that the HLI is trying to pre-empt the Supreme Court whose intervention they themselves sought.

“What the HLI is doing is a repeat of the manufactured referendum in 1989 which mothered the protracted strife that now bedevils the farm workers community in Hacienda Luisita”, Pahilga further said noting that “it appears that, given the bloodshed the strife had caused, the Cojuangcos-Aquinos have not really learned their lessons in 1989”.

He also noted that the act makes up the third time that the Cojuangcos-Aquinos betrayed agrarian reform and the HLI farm workers, recalling that the first betrayal was in 1986, after Cory Aquino became president due to EDSA revolution, when her administration through the Solicitor General withdrawn the case filed by the government against the Cojuancos for the distribution of the land to the farm workers.

During the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, the government filed a case to compel the Cojuancos to give the land to the farm workers as it was the condition for the loan they obtained with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Central Bank. The loan was used to purchase the sugar mill and the hacienda Luisita. The Regional Trial Curt (RTC) of Manila then ordered the Cojuancos to fulfill the condition of the loan and to distribute the land to the farm workers. They appealed the decision, however, to the Court of Appeals. While pending appeal and Cory became president, her administration ordered the withdrawal of the case from the Court of Appeals, according to Pahilga

The second act of betrayal was in 1989 when they chose to implement stock distribution option (SDO) in HLI instead of having the lands actually distributed to the farmers. This SDO is the root of all the misery and predicament of the farm workers. This SDO led to the hacienda luisita massacre and the farm workers already rejected this scheme, said Pahilga.

In negotiating with a Noel Mallari who claims he is the president of Ambala, Pahilga noted that the ingredients for the repeat of the 1989 deception are present. “This time, they are trying to manufacture consent by negotiating with individuals who do not have authority to represent the farm workers”.

“We will definitely question in the Supreme Court the validity of the deal and the standing of these individuals with whom HLI management negotiated and hold them in contempt of the court”, Pahilga asserted.

The agreement was intended to muddle the issue and pre-empt the outcome of the case now pending with the Supreme Court. The HLI management very well knew that they will not win the battle in the Supreme Court. For one, PARC’s resolution to revoke the SDO, as it did not improve the lives of the farm workers but made them more miserable, was unanimous. For another, HLI had violated several agrarian reform laws and the SDO scheme is clearly unconstitutional and unjust, ended Pahilga. #

-- Pagkakaisa para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (PATRIA) c/o Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) Office Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) Compound 1043 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City Philippines 0917-6073169 912-5884
 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

NEWS RELEASE
August 14, 2010

Luisita compromise deal, referendum will go down in history like ’04 massacre – KMU

“The so-called compromise agreement between Hacienda Luisita owners and Luisita farmers as well as the recent referendum will go down in history like the Nov. 16, 2004 massacre of farmers and farm workers who were calling for land reform – another proof of the Cojuangco and Aquino clans’ greed.”

This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to news reports revealing the truth about the referendum held in Hacienda Luisita over the weekend, as well as the “compromise agreement” between the hacienda’s owners and farmers.

News reports reveal that the referendum was conducted in haste and without sufficient information dissemination among farmers. Farmers were promised money in exchange for voting in favor of the Stock Distribution Option scheme and were ferried en masse to voting areas. This is on top of the massive deployment of military forces in the hacienda and the use of “fake” leaders to represent the farmers.

“As the truth continues to out, it is becoming increasingly clear that the referendum and the much-touted compromise agreement constitute another black eye for the Cojuangco and Aquino clans. These form part of another landmark in their long history of denying farmers the legitimate right to own the Luisita lands,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“The Cojuangco and Aquino clans’ greed is simply mind-boggling. They refused to distribute the land in accordance with their initial agreement with the government. When Cory was president, they invented the SDO scheme to again deny the land to the farmers. Nobody believes they were not in cahoots with the Arroyo regime in launching the Nov. 16, 2004 massacre of farmers and farm workers. Now, this,” he added.

“Wait till the public learns about the patently illegal and anti-farmer provisions of the so-called compromise deal. It says farmers are waving the right to pursue legal actions on the Luisita management’s moves whether in the past or in the future. Because they are in such haste to finish the land reform issue off, they are showing the country and the world just how greedy they really are,” Labog said.

Noynoy hands off
The labor leader also criticized Pres. Simeon Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for denying, through his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, that he had a hand in crafting and pushing for the compromise agreement.

“That is a classic Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo move: denying responsibility for schemes that clearly benefit the sitting president, while saying that the matter should be resolved by those directly involved. That is not pagbabago; that is panggagantso,” Labog said.

“In case President Noynoy’s memory is failing him this early, we remind him: you are the president of the country and it is your family that owns Hacienda Luisita. You should intervene in a transparent matter on the case and uphold agrarian reform – that is, side with the farmers against your family and its paid minions,” he added.

Reference person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597
 

     
     
           
     
     

 

NEWS RELEASE
13 August 2010
Reference: Public Information Department (0917-4661522)

Sham, deceitful
GABRIELA hits Luisita “compromise deal’

It was a pitiful sight. In the news that hit the televisions last night, a woman farmer worker, old and barely able to walk upright, was seen in a covered court in Hacienda Luisita, queuing for her share of the “financial package” as agreed upon in the “compromised agreement” that was supposedly entered into by the farmer-beneficiaries and the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI).

Militant women’s group GABRIELA condemns the onerous referendum that the HLI underhandedly led the farmer beneficiaries to participate in. According to the group, the referendum gives no option at all to the farm workers as they were only asked to choose between remaining under the stock distribution option (SDO) and land distribution corresponding to their percentage shareholding in HLI.

“Nakakaiyak at nakakagalit ang eksena na isang manggagawang bukid na tumanda na sa pagtatrabaho sa Luisita, ay makakatanggap lamang ng ilang daang pisong kapalit ng kanilang paghihirap at pag-aaruga sa lupa,” said Obeth Montes, speaking for GABRIELA.

According to Montes, the “compromise agreement” is sham as it is deceitful. “GABRIELA has actively campaigned and joined the farm workers in Luisita in their struggle. We know for a fact that the supposed farmer representatives who signed the agreement—Noel Mallari, Eldifonso Pingol, et al—are in no position to represent the farm workers’ unions AMBALA and ULWU, as they claim to.”

“Further, there is already a Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) decision in 2005 revoking the stock distribution agreement in Luisita. If not only for the TRO applied by HLI, the lands in Luisita should have long been distributed to the rightful owners—the farmers and farm workers,” said Montes.

GABRIELA reiterates its call for the scrapping of SDO and the sham “compromise agreement”.

“Clearly, the agreement was a calculated move by the HLI to preempt the Supreme Court decision in the scheduled oral argument in August 18. The management knows they are going to lose the battle. As proven by the PARC decision, and the living testimonies that are the lives of the women farm workers and their families in Luisita, the SDO did not improve the condition of the farmer beneficiaries. It even defeats the very purpose of land reform, which is social justice. The glaring truth is that after Luisita was placed under SDO, the more than 10,000 farm workers divide among themselves a tiny portion of the profit in the hacienda, while the Cojuanco-Aquinos and the HLI management enjoy themselves billions of profits from the hard labor of the farm workers,” said Montes.

“We challenge President Aquino to speak up and make known his position on this issue. In this conflict between his family and the farm workers, he must do away from personal interest. As a president, it is his obligation to prioritize the welfare of the people. In ensuring that social justice is not compromised, we challenge him to uphold the 2005 PARC decision and implement genuine agrarian reform in

Hacienda Luisita. Now,” added Montes.

Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office
(+632) 3712302 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (+632) 3712302 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

 

     
           
     
     
           
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The Math of the Hacienda Luisita Issue
August 15, 2010


The land area, length x width, of Hacienda Luisita is 6,435 hectares. And the Conjuangco-Aquino families have control over this land area. How large is that?

The City of Manila covers a land area of 3,955 hectares. It is smaller than Hacienda Luisita.

The City of Makati spreads over 2,738 hectares. It is much smaller than Hacienda Luisita.

The combined land area of Manila and Makati City is 6,593 hectares?, which is just 158 bigger than the Hacienda.

If you are the Cojuangco-Aquinos and you are the pwedal lords in an area that is as big as Manila and Makati combined  which have 2 mayors and 8 congressmen, would you allow yourself to be divested of control of that vast land that has a modern road to Manila,  Clark, Subic, Baguio and the Ilocos?

 

     

Union President Lito Bais

 

           
     

 

How did the Cojuangco-Aquinos come to control a vast track of land the size of Manila and Makati combined?

The Hacienda was acquired in 1882 by the Spanish owners of TABACALERA from the Spanish crown, the colonial master who had claims over the entire archipelago. They put up the Central Azucarera de Tarlac for their sugar mill operations.

The Spanish owners sold the Azucarera sugar mill to Jose Cojuangco, Sr., the father of Cory and the lolo of PNoy in 1957, but they wanted payment in dollar. Cojuangco took a loan from a US bank for $2,128,480 million payable in 10 years. The government's Central Bank of the Philippines backed him up and used part of the country's international reserves to make the regular remittance of dollarsto Manufacturer's Trust Company in New York.

The Central Bank had one condition for their assistance to Cojuangco: that Cojuangco would purchase the 6,443-hectare hacienda "with a view to distributing this hacienda to small farmers in line with the Administration'ssocial justice program." (Central Bank Monetary Board Resolution No. 1240,August 27, 1957).

To buy the land, Cojuangco applied for a loan of P7 million with the GSIS, the government institution built up by money collected from government employees for their retirement and other benefits. It is a case of the poor government employees helping the rich Cojuangcos.

The GSIS Board of Trustees passed Resolution No. 3202 on Nov. 27, 1957 approving the sume ofP5,911,000 as a loan to purchase Hacienda Luisita. Among several conditions forthe loan is "That the lots comprising the Hacienda LUisita shall be subdivided by the applicant-corporation among the tenants who shall pay the cost thereof under reasonable terms and conditions."

Thus, Cojuangco's company called TADECO acquired the Hacienda. Cojuangco promptly appointed his son-in-law of four years, Ninoy Aquino, as its first administrator.

Land distribution should have been implemented immediately after the 10-year repayment period, as stipulated in the loan agreement with the GSIS. This was never done and it is a longer story. Suffice it to say that in December 2005, DAR/PARC issued Resolution No. 2005-32-01 which recalled/revoked the SDO plan of TADECO/HLI and placed the lands subject SDO plan under the compulsory coverage scheme of the CARP. That issue has gone up to the Supreme Court because of the objection of the Hacienda owners..

Appended is a more detailed timeline of the Hacienda Luisita dispute for those who want more details on its history.(7 scanned pages, left and below)

 

 

Hacienda Luisita timeline as researched by Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI) - Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

 

           
     
     
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