Multisectoral rally in front of the Supreme Court

in support of the struggle of the Hacienda Luisita agricultural workers

 

Manila

 

August 18, 2010

 

■   Video clips

 

 

   
   

 

“This is a classic feudal case of landlords who are very adamant in their refusal to distribute the lands. That is why President Benigno Aquino III, a member of the Cojuangco clan, should rise above his class, above the economic and political interests of his clan by pursuing a genuine land reform through the actual distribution of the lands to the farm workers. The farm workers have long been suffering, they have been crying for justice for a long time. The President should not ignore their just plea,”

 

-- Atty. Edre Olalia

   Acting Secretarty General

   National Union of Peoples' Lawyers

 

   
/p

/p
           

 

The Mathematics of Hacienda Luisita
Giovanni Tapang, PhD

In more ways than one, the ongoing agrarian dispute at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac is bigger than what is in the papers.

What is not immediately obvious is the sheer size of the landholding. Just how big is an area of 6,474 hectares-- the size of Hacienda Luisita? Engineer Ramon Ramirez compared the combined size of the cities of Makati and Manila to the landholding of the Cojuangco-Aquino families. Manila covers a land area of 3,955 hectares while Makati spreads over 2,738 hectares. Manila and Makati combined is 6,593 hectares which is just slightly bigger than the Luisita. The hacienda actually covers eleven barangays within its area. It is not surprising to imagine why the Cojuanco-Aquino clan finds it difficult to give up its control over this landholding.

The hacienda was acquired in 1957 by the Cojuangco family through a USD 2.13 million loan guaranteed by the Central Bank. To put up the money for the purchase, Jose Cojuangco, Sr., the father of President Cory Aquino, took out a P 5.9 million loan from the GSIS. This loan had several conditions, one of which was 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." Ninoy Aquino, the current President's late father, was appointed its first administrator.

As stipulated in the loan agreement with the GSIS, the distribution of land should have been done immediately after the 10-year repayment of the loan. This distribution never happened. This issue has since then reached the courts, which in 1985 ordered TADECO (later the Hacienda Luisita Inc. or HLI) to turn over the control of the hacienda for distribution.

The issue of land distribution is at the heart of the Hacienda's history. The current episode in this long running series is the so-called compromise agreement foisted upon the farmworkers, compelling them to decide between retaining their ‘shares of stock‘ (through the stock distribution option or SDO), or claiming their small parcel of land despite a pending case in the Supreme Court.

The harsh mathematics of the SDO was made real with the distribution to the farmers of the first installment of P20 million (out of a promised P150 million) last August 12. According to reports, some got as low as P100 while others received around P4,000. Despite a NEDA study on the productivity of a small parcel of land and the successful practice of collective farming by farmers or 'bungkalan' on small lots in the Hacienda, the HLI with its offers of cash and jobs made it seem beneficial to sign up for the SDO rather than to take the small parcel of land. Instead of fully receiving their full share of the whole of the Hacienda, the "compromise" agreement returned the farmworkers to the situation before 2004.

They would be back to receiving as low as P9.50 per day of labor after deductions for only several days per week termed as "man-days". In the SDO, these man-days were also the basis of the amount of stocks that were programmed to be distributed over 30 years. The problem is that the number of hours a worker works in a year at the hacienda is entirely under the discretion and control of management.

In 2004, the same issue of land distribution accompanied by labor unrest in the Central Azucarera de Tarlac was the reason for the joint massive strike by the hacienda farm workers and the sugar mill workers. The strike was precipitated by the illegal dismissal of 327 farm workers and a deadlock in the CBA between management and sugar mill workers union. The violent dispersal of the strikers by soldiers, police and hacienda security guards caused the death of seven strikers and injuries to many others. The months following the November 16 massacre saw a spate of extra-judicial killings of community leaders, a city councilor and even a priest, who were all active supporters of the farmers cause.

There are more things we can count. The presence of the military in eight barangays of the hacienda. The number of years the issue has been brewing. The share of farmworkers in the land. The land conversion from agricultural to industrial and other uses. The amount of money and political dealings involved in the Subic-Clark Expressway which passes through (and has a exit within) Hacienda Luisita.

What is clear is that the Hacienda Luisita is an example of the long running agrarian problem in the country. The landlords are still there: attempting to preserve their control over vast lands using any and every schemes to keep this setup. The farmers are still struggling: not only to feed their families, but also to seek social justice and land to till. ###

Dr. Tapang is the chairperson of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People-AGHAM.


 

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano

Bishop  Solito Toquero

Photo courtesy of  Romeo Alarcon

Rev. Rex Reyes, NCCP

Photo courtesy of  Romeo Alarcon

Father of one of the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre
           
     

KMU Chair Elmer Labog

Photo courtesy of Sarah Raymundo

UP Faculty Regent Dr. Judy Taguiwalo

Photo courtesy of Sarah Raymundo

 
     

 

NEWS RELEASE
August 18, 2010
Reference: Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)
and Jay Cuesta, UMA information officer

SC ORAL ARGUMENTS ON LUISITA
Chief Justice Corona, 14 other justices told: “Farm workers can’t wait another 53 years to have Luisita”—militant groups

Supporters of striking Hacienda Luisita farm workers belonging to the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today told Chief Justice Renato Corona and 14 other justices of the Supreme Court that farm workers inside the Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate had already waited for 53 long years to have Luisita under collective ownership, and they will not subscribe to another 43 years of social injustice.

Warning the high tribunal of another social unrest which could surpass the 2004 strike in Hacienda Luisita that commenced with massacre of seven farm workers, the injury of more than 100 farm workers and the illegal arrest of another 100 plus sugar workers and supporters, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and UMA national coordinator Edna Velarde appealed to Chief Justice Corona and his peers to decide in favor of the collective interest of 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries inside the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation.

“From 1957 to 2010, the Cojuangco-Aquino fiefdom corporation made them slaves, which is comparable to the situation of slaves during the slaveholding society. They were paid P 9.50 per day not even enough to buy a kilo of NFA rice and they were compelled to work for 30 years just to acquire stockholder status in HLI. Is this right honorable justices of the Supreme Court?” Ramos and Velarde said in a joint statement.

“Injustice and warlordism still reign in Luisita, therefore we ask the Chief Justice and his peers to make a landmark ruling that will stop the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III from continuing a wholesale heinous crime,” both leaders added.

The vast tract of sugar lands should have been distributed to Hacienda Luisita farm workers in 1967 based on the agreement between the Cojuangco and the former owner of the sugar plantation, that after 10 years, the sugar estate shall be distributed to farm workers.
 

 

 


In 1957, the Cojuangco sought loans from GSIS to finance the operation of the sugar estate on the same condition that the owners and management of Hacienda Luisita will award to the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to farm workers after 10 years.

 

As the Supreme Court begins its oral arguments today, about 2,000 peasant activists mainly from Hacienda Luisita based groups—United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), the farmers groups Amihan national peasant women federation, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya gathered at the gate of the high tribunal to demand the high court to junk the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and invalidate the compromise deal between the HLI management and a clique of farm workers who according to anti-compromise deal groups, were coopted by the management.

Kasama-TK said some 200 farmers from the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna, landless tillers from the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Nasugbu, Batangas, sugar workers in the 7,813 hectares Hacienda Roxas also in Nasugbu, the farmers in the 12,000 hectare Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas , agrarian reform beneficiaries in the 2,400 hectare Hacienda Puyat also in Nasugbu, Batangas and landless farmers in the 2,014 hectare Hacienda Agoncillo in Laurel, Batangas joined today’s protest at the Supreme Court against the sham HLI compromise deal.

In Cebu City, farmers and fisherfolk belonging to KMP, Amihan national federation of peasant women and Pamalakaya will stage a mass action against the Luisita deal. The groups had earlier asked Cebu Archbishop Cardinal Vidal, an influential Roman Catholic leader, to condemn the compromise agreement.

In Bacolod City, farmers, sugar workers, peasant women and fisherfolk which are members of KMP, Amihan, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Pamalakaya will also stage a protest rally. The KMP said their chapters are also expected to lead mass actions in Legazpi City in Albay, Tacloban City in Leyte, Davao City, Butuan City and other major cities in Mindanao Island. Details of these planned protests are still being finalized as of press time. #

           
 

 

 

 Receipt of Hacienda Luisita Inc. Financial Assistance of P1.35!

Receipt of P1.35 financial assistance of the Cojuangco-Aquinos for 'voting' for SDO for Andy Andaya,

who worked for 15 years. Before the strike the take-home pay of the farmworkers was P9.50 per day,

today it is P1.35 for 15 years.

Photo courtesy of Raymund Villanueva, KODAO Productions

 

           

 

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
NEWS RELEASE
August 18, 2010
References: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Acting Secretary-General
0917 5113373
Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag, NUPL Spokesperson
0927 9293089

On today’s oral arguments in high court about Luisita dispute
“In the end, it’s an issue of social justice’ – says human rights law group

Lawyer Edre U. Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said that the high court has the opportunity now to possibly settle the decades long land dispute between the Hacienda Luisita management and its farm workers. “This land dispute has to be viewed according to the state policy of social justice. In the end, it is the right to own the land and the economic rights of the toiling and hapless farm workers that should be addressed by the Supreme Court,” Olalia stressed.

The NUPL is a voluntary bar association of human rights lawyers in the country. Some of its members are representing the farm workers in the said land dispute case. Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, the NUPL deputy secretary general for campaigns and advocacy, will argue before the high court today on behalf of the farm workers.

“The state policy on social justice can only be realized in this case if the lands are actually distributed to the farm workers. Anything short of that will only further and advance the oppressive and exploitative feudal relations between the Hacienda Luisita management and the farm workers. We hope that the high court will fulfill its duty to give meaning to social justice,” Olalia added.

Olalia believes that the compromise agreement between the Hacienda Luisita management and farm workers is full of legal infirmities. “The public debate is no longer about whether the compromise agreement is valid or not. It is very evident that the management pursued such compromise agreement to pre-empt the decision of the Supreme Court. It is utterly unjust and the management has taken advantage of the poverty and destitution of the farm workers. It is intended to confuse the high court on the real issue of the case, that is, the right of the farm workers to own the lands that they have been cultivating for decades.”

“This is a classic feudal case of landlords who are very adamant in their refusal to distribute the lands. That is why President Benigno Aquino III, a member of the Cojuangco clan, should rise above his class, above the economic and political interests of his clan by pursuing a genuine land reform through the actual distribution of the lands to the farm workers. The farm workers have long been suffering, they have been crying for justice for a long time. The President should not ignore their just plea,” Olalia ended. #

--
National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers(NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.No.920-6660,Telefax No. 927- 2812
Email addresses:nupl2007@gmail.com and nuplphilippines@yahoo.com
"Visit the NUPL at http://www.nupl.net/
---------------------------------------------------

 

Teachers to join national protest versus Luisita compromise;
invoke Rizal’s writings in support of land reform

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers is set to join the national protest against the compromise agreement between the Hacienda Luisita management and a number of the estate’s farmers and farm workers on August 18.

“To support the farmers’ cause is the sacred duty of every Filipino. We all eat and consume rice and other farm products, thus we cannot be silent on the issue of land reform. This affects us all,” said ACT Secretary General, Ms. France Castro..

In lieu of what it calls as a “bogus” compromise agreement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers urged government to cause the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which stipulates the “free distribution of all huge landholdings to landless farmers, with no exceptions,” unlike in the current Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which contains a number of land reform exceptions.

“The government should learn a thing or two in Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo, where the national hero described how the lack of land reform translates to the lack of progress in the country and the consequential proliferation of rebel groups in the Philippines. Implementing land reform will not only solve our people’s hunger and poverty, but it will also enable us to remedy the root causes of rebellion in the country,” said ACT Secretary-General France Castro.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers also said that their members are “ready to join multisectoral groups that support land reform iniatives, as this is the only way to compel government to render justice to the farmers of Hacienda Luisita and other huge estates throughout the country.”

 

     
     
           
     
  Above photos courtesy of Romeo Alarcon
     

 

Pull-out military from Hacienda Luisita, peasants urged Noynoy 08/17/2010
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas


The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) urged president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to immediately pull-out the military in Hacienda Luisita. The groups said that the military has been threatening farmworkers protesting the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and served as the private army of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

“Noynoy Aquino is lying to his teeth when he says he is adopting a ‘hands-off’ policy on the Hacienda Luisita issue. His military is totally serving his family and relatives, as their private army against farmworkers who are struggling for their rights to land,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

“We have a president who is useless to Filipino peasants and number one protector of landlords and hacienderos, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines under their disposal. He is not hands-off on the Hacienda Luisita, he is concretely anti-peasant, anti-land reform against any democratic change,” added Axel Pinpin, Secretary-General of KASAMA-TK.

The groups are presently holding the 100-day peasant camp-out in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to challenge Aquino to effect fundamental change or signals of it on his first 100 days of administration. They have submitted their omnibus demands to Aquino on June 30 and a key agenda was regarding human rights protection and the stop of militarization of farmers’ communities.

“Militarization has been a key factor to Cojuangco-Aquinos. During the 1989 referendum on the SDO, Hacienda Luisita was heavily militarized and the soldiers themselves campaigned for the SDO. Before the strike of November 2004, the military was relatively absent at the area, thus, farmworkers were able to express and organize themselves freely and without fear,” Ramos said.

Farmworkers from Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) said that 8 out of 10 barangays have military detachments and the barangay officials were recruited as CAFGUs (civilian paramilitary) which obliged them to operate for the military.

Lito Bais, acting ULWU president and AMBALA chair Felix Nacpil said that they have always been on guard of potential attacks such as extra-judicial killing or abduction, such as what happened to Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) president Ric Ramos who was also the chair of Bgy. Mapalacsiao who was killed by sniper fire at his house on October 25, 2005.

The groups said that the military played a vital role for the Cojuangco-Aquinos after the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004.

“After the massacre which killed 7 farmworkers, was a series of extra-judicial killings which felled CATLU president Ric Ramos, Tarlac Councilor Abel Ladera, Philippine Independent Church Father William Tadeña, KMP Tarlac leaders Marcelino Beltran and Ben Concepcion and 2 others,” said Ramos.

They also said that the recent referendum of the sham compromise deal was brought out by massive military operations thus farmworkers protests and organizing have been subdued to an extent.

The groups said that the history of Hacienda Luisita has been heavily marked by peasant struggle and mass deception and oppression by the Cojuangco-Aquinos. The farmworkers who are the legitimate owners of the 6,453-hectare of land are being conned and harassed repetitively by the Cojuangco-Aquinos in line to serve their interest.

In 1957, the Cojuangco-Aquinos used public funds to acquire Hacienda Luisita under a condition that it would be distributed in 10 years time but the Cojuangco-Aquinos showed no plans of distributing the lands for more than 50 years.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are the epitome of the modern-day landlords who would resort to power, corruption and lies to preserve their control over the vast lands. They are entrenched to the very seat of political power represented by president Noynoy Aquino, also on mass media, as he is backed-up by a major media network. They are using these to maintain their control over Hacienda Luisita,” Ramos said.

“Thus, we call on Noynoy Aquino to immediately pull your military out of Hacienda Luisita and stop lying that you are lenient on the issue when obviously you are not. You are a president of no land reform agenda, no human rights agenda, no people agenda whatsoever. Not having a land reform plans, you are of no use to the Fililipino peasants,” called Ramos. #

     
Remembering the martyrs of the Hacienda Luisita massacre
           
     
     
     

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Kilusang Mayo Uno

PNoy, SC, gov’t bodies dared to recognize bogusness of stock distribution scheme in Lusita

As the Supreme Court (SC) held its first ever hearing today on the issue of the stock distribution option (SDO) as a scheme to “distribute” the Hacienda Luisita lands to the farmers, Kilusang Mayo Uno urged the hight court to recognize the SDO as “not in any way a tool for land reform.”

“For two decades, the SDO has been the reason for the misery and exploitation of Hacienda Luisita farmers. The SDO made them have a take-home pay of only P9.50, forced them to strike in 2004 and be victims of a bloody massacre, and now entitled them to as low as one-peso payments as ‘stockholders’ of the land,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said.

“We hope the SC sees the obvious: how the farmers were deprived of land, of decent livelihood, and of basic rights because of the SDO.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos staged the compromise deal-signing and referendum in Luisita last week in hopes to pre-empt today’s SC hearing on the SDO. May this hearing and the succeeding hearings to come be worth the grand deception efforts of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. For if the SC will only show inclination to SDO, then the people will judge them as part of the ploy of the Luisita landlords,” Labog warned.

KMU also criticized the Aquino administration for pushing the SC to decide in favor of SDO. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda himself said last week “hopefully the Supreme Court will look with favor on the compromise agreement.”

“Noynoy should be wary about reflecting the greed of his clan, he must be so confident with his present popularity.”

KMU also urged the Congress to call for an inquiry on the sham referendum and compromise deal.

“We further enjoin responsible government bodies who can give support for the revocation of the SDO scheme to do a rightful deed now,” Labog added.

“History will judge those who will stand on the side of the landlords – when that time comes when the people finally owns and benefits from the lands of our nation, their honor will be burried six feet under the land.” #

 

     
           

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 17 August 2010

 

KARAPATAN warns P-Noy not to wash his hands on Hacienda Luisita issue

 

The National Council of the human rights watchdog Karapatan joins farmers and supporters in a mass by Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani dedicated to Hacienda Luisita workers at the Santo Domingo Church, and warned President Benigno Aquino III “not to wash his hands” on the controversial land dispute.

 

KARAPATAN Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said, on the eve of a Supreme Court en banc hearing of oral arguments on the case, that “Pres. Aquino should take the initiative to revoke the stock distribution option (SDO) as already decided by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005, nullify the sham compromise deal of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management, and immediately implement the long overdue land distribution to farmers and farm workers.

 

“Otherwise, he has no one but himself to blame for the twin misdeed of depriving the peasants of what is rightfully theirs, and denying them social justice.  That is not only a betrayal of public trust.  He would turn out to be the biggest "kunsintidor ng korupsyon at kasibaan (enabler of corruption and greed), far from treading the matuwid na daan,” Enriquez added.

 

“What’s worse, Pres. Aquino has even promoted then AFP Nolcom head Lt. Gen. Ricardo David as the AFP chief when his troops opened fire at unarmed workers on strike in 2004 with the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre, one of the gravest human rights violations which killed seven and wounded over a hundred,” Enriquez added.

 

“If Pres. Aquino really upholds human rights, he should consider not only giving up his stocks at the Hacienda Luisita, but by his mandate and political will, freely distribute the land – with no ifs and no buts,” Enriquez said.

 

KARAPATAN will join the Hacienda Luisita farmers and supporters in trooping to the Supreme Court tomorrow as it prepares for a historic ruling. ###

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org 
 

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Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights

2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District

Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101

Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146


KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.  It was established in 1995.

 

           
     

▲  Instead of attending their classes in UP Diliman,  these students from UP KILOS NA took to the streets and attended

the bigger classroom in front of the Supreme Court to learn lessons about class conflict, about landlords and peasants..▼

=          
==          
     
     
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines
 

Hacienda Luisita "deal" pushing peasants to armed revolution--CPPAugust 10, 2010

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today condemned the so-called compromise deal forged by the management of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), calling it "a devious scheme to preserve the decades-old Cojuangco land monopoly in Tarlac and continue subjecting the peasants and farm workers to perpetual semifeudal exploitation and oppression."

"The so-called deal was deviously cooked up and is being vigorously pushed by the Cojuangcos through bribery, coercion and political maneuverings," said the CPP.

"By having one of their own in Malacañang, the Cojuangcos are now brazenly pushing through with all possible arrangements, however odious and malevolent, to protect their vast landholdings and preserve their wealth accumulated through power, theft, malevolence and the exploitation and oppression of their tenants and farm workers."

The CPP accused Benigno Aquino III of pretending to distance himself from the issue. "It is obvious that Aquino has been totally in, minutely following the issue, and strongly pushing for the phoney deal," said the CPP.

"The hypocritical president is now also trying to win over the chief justice, Renato Corona, whom Aquino earlier said he would not recognize for being an illegal midnight appointee of the previous president. He now wants to win his favor and that of the other justices in the SC's forthcoming hearing on appeals of peasant organizations to junk the spurious Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and immediately distribute the Hacienda Luisita lands," the CPP added.

"The Cojuangco deal is the complete opposite of the long-standing clamor for social justice," averred the CPP.

"By continuing to ignore the demand of the masses of peasants and farm workers to subject Hacienda Luisita and all other monopoly-owned haciendas to land reform, the Aquino regime only succeeds in exposing the plain truth that breaking the feudal and semifeudal system in the Philippines can only be achieved by waging agrarian revolution through armed struggle," added the CPP. "The callous Cojuangco deal will only push more and more peasants and farm workers to join the armed revolution as the only means to achieve their long-standing demand for social justice."

The SDO scheme was contained in an executive order of then president Cory Aquino, issued even before the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was made into law in 1988. The SDO scheme was introduced by the Cojuangco clan itself to preempt the actual application of land reform to large plantations such as their Hacienda Luisita.

The new Cojuangco "compromise deal" which was made public over the weekened purportedly gives peasants the option to choose between retaining their company stocks under the SDO or receiving a much reduced size of land. The HLI now "offers" for distribution only 1,366 hectares out of the remaining 4,915 hectares of agricultural land in the hacienda.

The CARP requires all agricultural lands to be distributed, with only five hectares to be retained by the landlord, and with the beneficiaries also receiving a share of the income of those lands already converted to other uses. More than 1,500 hectares also originally claimed by the peasants and farm workers had already been converted for industrial and commercial use during the years the hacienda was covered by CARP.

The Cojuangcos, skirted the law, using the contested SDO provision. They created a shadow corporation in the form of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated to avoid including in the SDO all the land and other assets of the original Central Azucarera de Tarlac, increasingly converted parts of the hacienda for industrial and commercial use, and gave only a nominal 30% share of HLI, purportedly to correspond with the 'value' of the entire remaining agricultural land.

The CPP said further that, "With further convoluted logic, the Cojuangcos are now only claiming that the peasants and farmworkers' 30% share of HLI stocks is equivalent to only 30% of the agricultural land. The phoney deal would leave each peasant or farm worker opting for land with a only a tenth of a hectare."
Reference:
Marco Valbuena
Media Officer
Cellphone Numbers: 09156596802 :: 09282242061
E-mail:cppmedia@gmail.com

 

     
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
August 18, 2010
Reference: Charisse Bañez, Anakbayan spokesperson, 09263707842
Anton Dulce, Anakbayan media liaison officer, 09086123260

Hundreds of youths flood streets around Supreme Court in support of Hacienda Luisita peasants

Hundreds of youths led by progressive groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and Kabataan Partylist joined the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita today as the Supreme Court began hearing the oral arguments for a long-standing agrarian dispute regarding the said estate.

In 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) ruled that the SDO (Stock Distribution Option) be revoked and the 4,000+ hectares of Luisita should be immediately redistributed to the farm workers. In the SDO, landlords are given the option to give out shares of stock in companies, instead of actual land to the farm workers. Recent reports from the Luisita peasants indicate that the stocks are priced at 37 centavos each.

However, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan and the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) filed a suit in the Supreme Court, which resulted in the latter issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the redistribution which is still presently in effect .

LFS chairperson Terry Ridon urged the SC to ‘resist political pressure from certain landlord-friendly quarters’ in deciding on the case.

He said “We do not see any reason for the Supreme Court to rule against the farm workers. The 2005 PARC (Presidential Agrarian Reform Council) decision is based on a comprehensive study by the Dept. of Agrarian Reform, which clearly states that the farm workers did not prosper in almost two decades of SDO”.

The SDO, which took effect in 1989, allowed the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to distribute virtually-worthless shares of stock in its Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to the farm workers, instead of farmland.

Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez was more explicit, blasting President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino for his purported ‘hands-off’ policy, which she called ‘pure deception’. In a visit to the estate last weekend, the president claimed to adopt a ‘hands-off’ policy on the issue, claiming that the dispute was simply an ‘intra-corporate’ matter.

“By calling it an intra-corporate matter, Noynoy is stating that concerned gov’t agencies, organizations, and sectors should leave the Hacienda Luisita dispute in the hands of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. It’s like asking wolves to guard sheep!” said the youth leader.
 

 

Bañez meanwhile called on Congress to immediately investigate the pre-existing agrarian reform law, saying that the legal ‘loopholes’ which gave rise to the SDO remains in Republic Act 9700, or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms.


Peasant groups have roundly criticized the CARPER, and instead are backing the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (House Bill 374) which is principally authored by Rep. Rafael Mariano.
Even before the Supreme Court rally ended, the youth groups have vowed to launch a nationwide campaign to expose the ‘compromise deal’.

NUSP national chairperson Einstein Recedes said the groups would turn campuses nationwide into a ‘gigantic classroom’ regarding the Hacienda Luisita issue and the general state of the agricultural sector in the country.

“We will launch hundreds of forums, teach-ins, and classroom discussions in schools to explain to the youth the significance of this issue in their lives. The hundreds of youths in the streets today are but the seeds which will blossom into massive street protests in the near future, unless President Aquino truly undertakes a daang matuwid in this issue” vowed Recedes.

For her part, CEGP national chairperson Trina Federis urged President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino to include the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre among the issues that will be investigated by Aquino’s newly-formed Truth Commission.

She said “No daang matuwid is possible if state security forces are allowed to kill with impunity. It sends the message that gov’t critics, activists, journalists, clergy, and even ordinary folks can be killed if they prove to be inconvenient for the plans of the powers-that-be”.

Finally, Bañez warned that the Luisita issue might spark the first cases of widespread disenchantment against the new administration.

“With proposals to hike the MRT-LRT fares, SLEX (Southern Luzon Expressway) tolls, impose VAT (value added tax) on tollways, add two more years in basic education, reintroduce a mandatory ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) program, and the extension of the military’s policy of executing activists, Hacienda Luisita might be the final straw” said the Anakbayan leader. ###
--
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"Only through militant struggle can the best in the youth emerge"

           
           
           
     
     
     

 

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

Date: August 14, 2010
Campaign: Kabuhayan at Katarungang Panlipunan, Ipaglaban!
Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597

“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.

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

 

Lupa ng Hacienda Luisita, ipamahagi sa magsasaka – ngayon na!
Date: August 14, 2010
Campaign: Kabuhayan at Katarungang Panlipunan, Ipaglaban!
Reference Person: Bong Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information:
0908-1636597

Huwag magpalinlang sa pekeng kasunduan at nilutong halalan!
Lupa ng Hacienda Luisita, ipamahagi sa magsasaka– ngayon na!

Tapos na raw ang sigalot sa lupa sa Hacienda Luisita. Ito ang gustong palabasin ngayon ng mga pamilyang Cojuangco at Aquino na may-ari nito. Isa itong garapal na panloloko sa mga magsasaka, manggagawa at mamamayan ng Hacienda Luisita at bansa.

1. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: Nagkasundo na raw ang Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI) at mga grupo ng magsasaka na hindi ang lupa ng hacienda ang ipapamahagi – na siyang dapat sang-ayon sa reporma sa lupa. Ang ipapamahagi ay mga stocks ng HLI sa ilalim ng iskemang Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

Ang totoo: Ang mga nagpapakilalang “lider” ng mga magsasaka na pumasok sa kasunduan sa mga Cojuangco at Aquino ay hindi talaga mga lider ng organisasyong kinakatawan umano nila. Mga bayaran sila ng mga pamilyang Cojuangco at Aquino, na namuno sa mga grupong itinayo ng mga may-ari ng Luisita. Matagal na silang itinakwil ng mga magsasaka dahil sa pakikipagsabwatan sa mga Cojuangco at Aquino. Peke samakatwid at hindi dapat kilalanin ang nasabing kasunduan.

2. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: Sa eleksyong inilunsad ng HLI, bumoto raw ang nakakaraming magsasaka pabor sa SDO. Mas gusto raw nilang magmay-ari ng mga stocks at hindi ng lupa sa Luisita.

Ang totoo: Hindi nagpalaganap ng sapat na impormasyon ang mga Cojuangco at Aquino tungkol sa pagbobotohan. May kumalat na bali-balitang nasa liblib na bahagi ng hacienda ang lupang sinabing ipapamigay sa mga gustong magmay-ari ng lupa. Mas masahol, pinangakuan ng pera ang mga boboto pabor sa SDO. Ngayon, nababalitang napakaliit na halaga ang ibinigay sa mga magsasaka. Mayroon ngang P1.00 lang ang natanggap. Dagdag pa rito, ikinalat ang mga pwersang militar sa Luisita para takutin ang mga tao.

3. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: maka-magsasaka ang eleksyon at umano’y “kasunduan” sa pagitan ng HLI at ng mga magsasaka pabor sa SDO.

Ang totoo: Pinapatibay ng pekeng kasunduan at nilutong eleksyon ang iskemang SDO na siyang ipinagwelga ng mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid noong 2004. Ang SDO ang dahilan kung bakit P9.50 lang ang naiuuwi noon kada linggo ng bawat manggagawang bukid sa Luisita. Paglaban sa SDO ang siyang sinalubong ng masaker noong 2004 na pumatay sa pitong (7) katao. Inimbento ang iskemang SDO para ikutan ang pagpapatupad ng batas sa reporma sa lupa sa Hacienda Luisita. Pakana ang kasunduan at eleksyon ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino para patuloy na ipagkait ang mahigit 6,000 hektaryang lupang matagal nang dapat naipamahagi sa mga magsasaka.

4. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: naaayon sa batas ang eleksyon at umano’y “kasunduan” sa pagitan ng HLI at ng mga magsasaka pabor sa SDO.

Ang totoo: Gustong harangan ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino ang pagtalakay ng Korte Suprema sa isyu ng Hacienda Luisita. Tatalakayin na kasi nito ang temporary restraining order na ipinataw nito sa resolusyon ng Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) noong 2005 na nagbabasura sa SDO at nag-uutos na ipamahagi ang lupa ng Luisita. Natatakot ang mga Cojuangco at Aquino dahil matibay ang mga argumento para sa pamamahagi ng lupa at kung magiging patas lang ang Korte Suprema ay magaganap na ang pamamahaging ito.

5. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: Dapat ibasura ng Korte Suprema ang utos ng PARC noong 2005 na nagpapawalang-bisa sa SDO at nag-uutos ng pamamahagi ng lupa ng Hacienda Luisita sa mga magsasaka.

Ang totoo: Matibay ang kaso para ibasura ang SDO at ipamahagi ang lupa ng Hacienda Luisita. Una, hindi talaga bumuti, bagkus sumama, ang lagay ng mga magsasaka sa ilalim ng SDO. Ikalawa, kahit habang dinidinig pa ng Korte Suprema ang kaso, todo-larga na ang mga Cojuangco at Aquino sa palit-gamit sa lupa (land use conversion). Tuluy-tuloy nilang pinaparentahan ang lupa sa malalaking kumpanya para magkamal ng malaking kita. Ikatlo, hindi nagbigay ng dibidendo ang mga Cojuangco at Aquino sa mga magsasaka, sa kabila ng pagsasabing may-ari rin ng lupa ang huli.

6. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: Walang kinalaman si Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Cojuangco-Aquino III sa mga nagaganap ngayon sa Hacienda Luisita.

Ang totoo: Dapat makialam si Noynoy sa isyu ng Hacienda Luisita lalo na’t pamilya niya ang sangkot. Pero dapat makialam siya bilang presidente ng Pilipinas, at hindi miyembro ng panginoong maylupang angkang Cojuangco at Aquino. Dapat maging lantad ang pakikialam niya at pabor sa mga magsasaka, hindi lihim at pabor sa kanyang pamilya. Hindi niya pwedeng sabihing hindi siya makikialam dahil mananaig lang ang kagustuhan ng kanyang pamilya. Tatak ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang itanggi ang papel sa mga hakbanging malinaw na naglilingkod sa kanyang sarili at pamilya.

7. Ang sabi ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino: Pribado ang usapin sa lupa sa Hacienda Luisita, kaya dapat resolbahin ng mga magsasaka at may-ari ng lupa lang, hindi ng mga “tagalabas.”

Ang totoo: Isyu ng mga magsasaka at mamamayan ng buong bansa ang reporma sa lupa sa Hacienda Luisita. Isa ito sa pinakamalaking pribadong lupain sa bansa, na mas malaki pa sa pinagsamang Makati at Pasig. Matagal na itong dapat naipamahagi sa mga magsasaka, pero nilabag ang batas at sinalaula ang programang reporma sa lupa ng gobyerno para hindi ito maipamahagi. Kapag nakalusot ang pakanang pekeng kasunduan at nilutong eleksyon ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino, tiyak na susunod ang marami pang hacienda sa bansa na nakapailalim sa SDO.

Matagal nang nakikibaka ang mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid sa Hacienda Luisita para sa reporma sa lupa. Gusto nilang tapusin ang deka-dekada nang pagsasamantala at pambubusabos sa kanila ng pamilyang Cojuangco at Aquino. Tungkulin nating mga kapwa-Pilipino ang makiisa sa kanila at makibaka kasama nila.

Ibasura ang Stock Distribution Option!
Ibasura ang pekeng kasunduan sa Luisita!
Lupa ng Hacienda Luisita, ipamahagi sa magsasaka, ngayon na!
Noynoy, huwag maghugas-kamay! Pumanig sa magsasaka, isulong ang reporma sa lupa!
Katarungan para sa mga biktima ng masaker sa Hacienda Luisita!
Militarisasyon sa Hacienda Luisita, itigil!
Pyudalismo, ibagsak!
Tunay na reporma sa lupa, ipaglaban!

Kilusang Mayo Uno
Anakpawis Partylist

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Photo courtesy of  Romeo Alarcon

Photo courtesy of  Romeo Alarcon

     
           

 

Bayan calls on social justice advocates to support Luisita workers
News Release
August 16, 2010

Bayan calls on social justice advocates to support Luisita workers

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today called on all social justice advocates to rally behind the farm workers of the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita as they prepare to bring their case against the stock distribution option (SDO) before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is scheduled on Aug. 18 to hear oral arguments on a 2003 petition by Hacienda Luisita workers and supervisors for the revocation of the SDO.

“We are facing a legal battle involving the country’s biggest family-owned landholding,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. “This is a landmark case that may have telling implications for the struggle for land and justice.”

Hacienda Luisita’s SDO scheme was implemented in 1989, during the presidency of Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, mother of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

In 2003, Hacienda Luisita farm workers and supervisors filed a petition before the Supreme Court for the revocation of the SDO scheme.

Between Nov. 25, 2004 (nine days after what is now known as the Hacienda Luisita massacre) and Feb. 22, 2005, the Task Forced Luisita formed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) convened to evaluate the merits of the 2003 petitions. Task Force Luisita asked the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management to submit its response to the petitions on Dec. 6, 2004; HLI submitted its response on Jan. 21, 2005.

On March 15, 2005, Task Force Luisita conducted field investigations and interviewed workers in the 10 villages covered by Hacienda Luisita.

In its Terminal Report dated Sept. 22, 2005, Task Force Luisita recommended the revocation of the SDO.

“The farm workers alleged that the quality of their lives has not improved,” the report noted. “In fact, it even deteriorated, especially with the HLI management declaration that the company has not gained profits in the last 16 years (since the SDO was implemented in 1989), that there could be no declaration and distribution of dividends.”
 

 

On Dec. 23, 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) issued Resolution No. 2005-32-01 revoking HLI's SDO scheme and ordering the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita. But HLI asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the resolution, which was granted in 2006.

The oral arguments on Aug. 18 will be the first since the TRO was issued.

Reyes urged the Supreme Court to uphold the law and public interest in deciding on a purported compromise deal between some 7,000 of Hacienda Luisita’s 10,000 farm workers and the HLI management.

The compromise deal, which HLI has recently submitted to the Supreme Court, lets the farm workers choose between retaining shares of stocks and land distribution.

Under the compromise deal, those who will chose land distribution over stocks will be given land that is equivalent to their stock holdings. The actual equivalency of stocks to land area is not clear in the agreement. The scope of land distribution is also being questioned since lawyers have argued that it is the entire estate which should be subjected to land reform, not just the 33 percent of the land that is devoted to agriculture.

“We call on the Supreme Court to declare the compromise deal as patently illegal and unconstitutional,” Reyes said.

Reyes noted, however, that the solidarity between Hacienda Luisita’s farm workers and all advocates of social justice is what will decide the outcome of the struggle.

“Hacienda Luisita’s farm workers are fighting a very legitimate fight but they are up against the wealthy and powerful,” Reyes said. “Their struggle deserves the support of everyone who believes in social justice.”

Tomorrow at 6:00 pm, a day before the oral arguments, a solidarity mass will be held for the Hacienda Luisita workers at the Sto. Domingo Church along Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. Organizations and individuals supporting the Hacienda Luisita farm workers are expected to attend the mass. Bp. Teodoro Bacani will officiate the mass.

           
     
     
     

 

Social Justice for the Hacienda Luisita Workers

The peasants and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) deservessocial justice and not deceitful schemes. They have to justlybenefit from the land they have been tilling for so long . Their human rights and fundamental rights have to be respected. Any offering or attempt to subdue their resistance against inhumane treatment is an affront against their rights.This must be at any time be opposed and condemned.

The Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR) is in solidarity withthe farmers of Hacienda Luisita in their struggle for land and justice and against the continues exploitation and oppression of the family of President Noynoy Aquino.We are firmed as church people to be on the side of our tilling brothers and sisters in their effort to defend their life and dignity.

President Noynoy Aquino's family have gain too much from the sweat and blood of the Hacienda Luisita farmers. For more than four decades, they have controlled and made profit on the land that was developed by the hands of the toiling masses. They have lived in an opulent life at the expense of the condition of the farmers.

Hacienda Luisita farmers have opened our eyes with the real situation of our rural areas. They have shown that the land reform program under the previous administrations are only for the landlords' interests. Their experience showed that schemes like the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) was not intended to uplif ttheir lives but rather pull them more to the hole of poverty.

From the time the Hacienda Luisita was acquired in 1957, deception and political influence have been used. It was aggravated when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Billin 1987 was enacted into law that legalized the retention of vast tract of land to the few powerful families. Using Stock DistributionOption (SDO) scheme, the Cojuangco-Aquino family was able to exempt their 6,453 has. of land from distribution. Eventually, they converted thousand hectares of arable land into an industrial and commercial estate by selling it to its own subsidiary corporation without consideration of its workers.
 

 

The failure of the HLI to raise the living condition of the workers and of the self serving policy pushes the farmers beneficiaries to hold astrike in 2004. But instead of heeding the farmers call, the Cojuanco-Aquino family-owned corporation ignored their pleas, violence ensued resulting to the death of seven lives. When the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Presidential AgrarianReform Council decided that SDO must be cancelled, the HLI secured an indefinite temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.

Disregarding its own petition, a compromise agreement was initiated by the Cojuanco-Aquino family in connivance with some hacienda workers to pre-empt or influence the scheduled oral argument of the case filed in the Supreme Court. The president's family is exercising all efforts,again to retain the land in their favor. They even use the dirty tactic of divide and rule among the struggling farmers through bribery as well as using military might to impose their agenda.

The continuing refusal of President Noynoy to engage in the land dispute is tantamount to neglecting people's issues and concern. His inaction and alibis give more signal at the advantage of the landlords. It reveals that the path that his government is approaching is far from the path of justice that the poor people are demanding.

In the situation like this, church people are expected to work for justice by standing on the side of the struggling poor. Our prophetic task calls us to struggle with the Hacienda Luisita farm workers for land and justice. We say no to compromise agreement! Junk the Stock Distribution Option! Land to the Tillers!

MR. NARDY SABINO
General Secretary
pcprnatl@gmail.com

     
 

 

Streetwise:

The Cojuangco compromise agreement

by Carol  P. Araullo


The so-called compromise agreement announced by the management of the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) comes ahead of an upcoming decision of the Supreme Court on the legality of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) decision to revoke the 16-year-old stock distribution option (SDO). The SDO took the place of outright distribution of land to the hacienda farm workers as mandated by the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).

A close study of the agreement reveals that it does not address any of the grounds cited by the PARC as to why the SDO is illegal and grossly inimical to the interests of the farm workers. Worse it allows the continuation of the SDO under even more onerous terms, lays the ground for continuing agrarian unrest at the hacienda and provides ample fuel to the raging agrarian-based armed conflict nationwide.

Land reform at Hacienda Luisita was subverted twice during the administration of Pres. Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, herself part-owner of the hacienda.

A 1985 Manila RTC decision ordering the Cojuangcos to turn over control of the hacienda lands to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform for distribution was pending at the Court of Appeals. In 1988, the Aquino government filed a motion to dismiss the civil case against the Cojuangcos on the ground that Hacienda Luisita would be covered by agrarian reform anyway. The case was dismissed.

In 1988, the agrarian reform law legislated under the Aquino watch included the SDO scheme that permitted the distribution of shares of stock in a corporation dominated by landowners instead of actual land distribution to farm workers.

In Hacienda Luisita, a referendum was held in 1989 wherein farm workers were said to have overwhelmingly voted for the SDO. Land reform was thus effectively circumvented and the Cojuangcos hold on the estate perpetuated.

In 2003, leadership over the two major unions in the hacienda passed on to the hands of officials who were not beholden to the hacienda owners. Petitions were filed at the DAR to revoke the SDO because it grossly failed to improve the lot of the supposed agrarian reform beneficiaries and in fact, actually worsened it.

In 2004, the joint massive strike by the hacienda farm workers and the sugar mill workers took place due to the illegal dismissal of 327 farm workers and a deadlock in the CBA between management and sugar mill workers union. The violent dispersal of the strikers by soldiers, police and hacienda security guards caused the death of seven strikers and injuries to many others.

Prior and subsequent extrajudicial killings of church people, local government officials and other supporters of the struggling hacienda and azucarera workers upped the ante by way of human rights violations related to the hacienda dispute.

National and international condemnation of the massacre and other human rights violations together with government’s failure to end the oppressive feudal system holding sway at Hacienda Luisita pushed the Arroyo government to respond to the farmers’ demand to end the SDO.

DAR undertook a factual investigation and a legal study of the HLI SDO that resulted in the 2005 PARC resolution revoking it and placing the hacienda under the compulsory coverage of CARP. However in 2006, the HLI was able to get a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court that kept the DAR and PARC from terminating the SDO.

 

Even on the basis of DAR and PARC findings alone, the legal and moral grounds for annulling the SDO are more than compelling.
 

First of all, shares of stock were not distributed outright to the more than 5000 beneficiaries as provided by law but were programmed to be parceled out over 30 years on the basis of “man days” or the number of hours a worker works in a year at the hacienda, something that was entirely under the discretion and control of management.

If the farm worker had no "man days " for one reason or another, he could not earn or be issued a share of stocks.
A farm worker who is separated, terminated or dismissed earlier for any reason will no longer receive any shares of stocks and ceases to be a shareholder.

On the other hand, management can continue to hire workers as they please and thereby bloat the number of “stockholders” to their liking, to the prejudice of the original farm workers in the hacienda.

Secondly, the HLI has not given a single cent of dividends to the farm workers cum supposed stockholders.

Whatever “added benefits” the farm workers received from HLI, such as the 3% share from gross production and home lots, are in fact not due from the SDO but from other provisions of the agrarian reform law.

Thirdly, contrary to the provisions of the SDO Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to keep the agricultural lands intact and unfragmented, the HLI management converted 500 hectares for industrial and commercial purposes. It gave the farm worker-stockholders a pittance for their share in the sale of this parcel of land. Subsequently more land was disposed of without benefitting the hacienda workers.

But more than anything else, what is beyond dispute is that the lives of farm workers and their families did not improve; instead, they were pushed deeper into poverty and misery by the one-sided SDO.

The so-called new compromise agreement bears all the hallmarks of HLI management’s manipulation and deception. Apart from questions about whether the HLI had any right to initiate and preside over such an agreement when PARC had already revoked the SDO, there is the nagging question about whether any form of coercion, duress or misrepresentation attended this management-engineered agreement.

In truth, this “agreement” is so patently against the interests of the form workers. It upholds the discredited and rejected SDO. It swindles the farm workers by arbitrarily allotting only one third of the remaining 4,102 hectares of agricultural land for distribution. Furthermore it deprives the farm workers from ever questioning any violations that may have happened in the past or may arise in the future in relation to the 1989 SDO MOA.

President “Cory” Aquino, sadly, presided over the emasculation of agrarian reform and allowed her relatives to take undue advantage of the law’s loopholes to retain their hold over HLI.

President “Noynoy” Aquino, her son, is today burdened by this odious legacy, just as he is challenged to set this historical injustice to right.

His pretense that he has nothing to do with the “agreement” and his obvious lack of interest in using his vast powers to see social justice reign in his family’s hacienda exposes his glaring unconcern for the poor and downtrodden peasantry who make up a majority of the people in this country. #

 

August 12, 2010

     
▲  Photos of march courtesy of  Romeo Alarcon  ▼
     
     

 

           

 

 

Other Haciendas (initial listing)

 

Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas          -   12,000 hectare
Hacienda Yulo in Nasugbu, Batangas               -     8,650 hectare
Hacienda Roxas also in Nasugbu                      -     7,813
Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba             -     7,100 hectare
Hacienda Luisita                                  -    6,453 hectares

Hacienda Puyat also in Nasugbu, Batangas    -     2,400 hectare
Hacienda Agoncillo in Laurel, Batangas          -     2,014 hectare

 

There are more in other provinces and regions.

 


 

To get an idea of  the size of each hacienda, compare them  with the land areas of these four cities:

 

Caloocan City                 5.333 HA
Las Pinas City                4,154 HA
Makati City                      2,736 HA
Mandaluyong City           1,126 HA
Manila City                       3,855 HA
Marikina City                   3,397 HA
Pasig City                        3,100 HA
Quezon City                   16,112 HA
 

Why do some families still own vast tracts of land despite the implementation of a series of so-called land reform programs, the latest version of which is called the CARPer?

           

Video clips

           
   
           

www.gmanews.tv

The farm workers of Hacienda Luisita staged a picket on Wednesday near the Supreme Court (SC), hours before it hears the oral arguments on the legality of the stock distribution option (SDO), an agreement that farmer beneficiaries entered into with Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the Tarlac Developm...

 

newsinfo.inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines(UPDATE) Justices of the Supreme Court on Wednesday grilled the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) on the inconsistencies and lapses in the implementation of the stock distribution option deal it struck with farmer beneficiaries. Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta wondered ...

 

www.kilusangmagbubukid.org

SC ORAL ARGUMENTS ON LUISITA Chief Justice Corona, 14 other justices told: “Farm workers can’t wait another 53 years to have Luisita”—militant groups

 

www.allvoices.com

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera MANILA, Philippines- A Manila based scientist today said the scope of the controversial Hacienda Luisita sugar estate owned by the fam...

 

Social Justice for the Hacienda Luisita Workers

The peasants and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) deservessocial justice and not deceitful schemes. They have to justlybenefit from the land they have been tilling for so long . Their human rights and fundamental rights have to be respected. Any offering or attempt to subdue their resistance against inhumane treatment is an affront against [...]

 

On today’s oral arguments in high court about Luisita dispute “In the end, it’s an issue of social justice’ – says human rights law group

NEWS RELEASE August 18, 2010 Lawyer Edre U. Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said that the high court has the opportunity now to possibly settle the decades long land dispute between the Hacienda Luisita management and its farm workers. “This land dispute has to be viewed according to [...]

Reform group to SC: Uphold the law and farmers’ right to land

News Release 18 August 2010 “Do not be the reason for social justice to be delayed yet again,” reform advocacy group Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change urged the Supreme Court during the oral arguments on the legality of the stock distribution option (SDO) being implemented as a “land reform” scheme in Hacienda Luisita today. “We [...]

 

Reform group to Aquino: Break cycle of abuse and injustice in HLI, recognize farmers’ right to land

News Release 17 August 2010 “The current situation in Hacienda Luisita offers Noynoy an opportunity to break the cycle of abuse the farm workers have been experiencing for more than half a century and correct the historical injustice his family has committed against them. He should not let this chance go to waste.” This was [...]

 

 

News in Pictures: Farmers, Supporters Attend Solidarity Mass on Eve of SC Oral Arguments on Luisita Land Case


A solidarity mass for the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita, officiated by Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Bp. Teodoro Bacani, was held in Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City, on Tuesday — a day before the Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on the petition for certiorari filed by the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management against the 2005 resolution of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and Department of Agrarian Reform revoking the SDO and ordering the distribution of land to the farm workers.

 

All Eyes Today on SC as Farm Workers, Cojuangco-Aquinos Battle Over Luisita

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Lawmaker says Supreme Court itself will be on trial. “The Hacienda Luisita land dispute is the first acid test of the Supreme Court under the Aquino administration. The Cojuangco-Aquinos have put the Supreme Court on trial here,” says Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

 

Slideshow: ‘Bungkalan’ Improved Lives of Luisita Farmers


‘Bungkalan’ Saves Luisita Farmers from Debt

 

Contrary to What Cojuangco-Aquinos Say, Farming Improved Lives of Many Luisita Folk

After the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council ordered the revocation of the SDO in Hacienda Luisita, the farmer beneficiaries launched what they call a “bungkalan” or the cultivation of idle Luisita land. It was both a political statement and a matter of survival for the farm workers who were facing extreme poverty in the hacienda owned by President Benigno S. Aquino III and his family. Farmers who participated swear that their lives improved after the “bungkalan.” View related slideshow

 

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As Cuba could not supply all of the sugar requirements of the United States (US), they turned to the Philippines. Before World War II, Hacienda Luisita supplied almost 20% of all sugar in the US.

 

           

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