Hacienda Luisita:

Farmers and supporters launch LUPPA alliance for land distribution,

Bungkalan to collectively cultivate land to earn their livelihood

 

De :La Salle - College of St. Benilde

 

October 30, 2010

 

■   LUPPA launching       ■   Bungkalan sa Hacienda Luisita      ■   Poems by Nonilon Queano and Pia Montalban

 

■   Maskara protest of Negros and Luisita farmers at Mendiola      ■   Video

 

■   Agrarian convulsions and the "criminalizqtion of agrarian cases" in Negros

 

 

Basic Facts on the Hacienda Luisita Issue (Power Point Presentations):

 

■   Hacienda Luisita: Agrarian reform and social justice issue

 

■   Agrarian reform and the Luisita experience

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano, Pinoy Weekly

Photo by Kenneth Guda, Pinoy Weekly

/p

/p
     
Launching of Luisita Peasants and People's Alliance
           

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

October 30, 2010

REFERENCES:

Edna Velarde||  Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) National Coordinator, LUPPA Convenor 

Contact num: 0939-1271710

 

Lito Bais || Chairperson, United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), LUPPA Convenor

Contact num: 0929-912383

 

LUISITA FARMERS AND SUPPORTERS LAUNCH ALLIANCE URGING FOR DISTRIBUTION OF COJUANGCO-AQUINO LAND

 

Various groups joined the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita as they launched the formation of the widest alliance compelling the Aquino government and the Supreme Court to immediately distribute the 6,400 hectares owned by the Cojuangco – Aquino family.

Luisita Peasants and People’s Alliance (LUPPA) today formally launched the broad network of support it gathered from church groups, artists, academe and different sectoral organizations at De La Salle – College of St. Benilde.

 

Joining Velarde and Bais as convenors of the said alliance are Fr. Gregorio Obejas, O.S.M., Tarlac City Councilor Emmie Ladera, Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) Executive Director Atty. Jobert Pahilga, visual artist Rustum Casia, and the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action.

 

The CBCP-NASSA affirmed their commitment to help Luisita farmworkers in their struggle to be owners of the land they have been tilling for ages. Likewise, the Social Justice arm of the Catholic Church join the farmers in their call to junk the spurious Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme. 

 

Last August, farmers from Alyansa ng Manggagawang bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) walked-out of the SC-established mediation for its failure to convince them to agree with SDO. The longest-running land dispute in the country is now locked pending the decision of the Supreme Court.  

 

LUPPA coordinator and co-convenor Edna Velarde said that the alliance aims to provide the farm workers legal, moral and political support as they battle one of the largest landlord clan in the country. “The farm workers’ struggle for social justice has yet to be attained. The HLI is continuously circumventing the law to favor their selfish interests despite the 2006 decision of the Department of Agrarian Reform revoking the SDO and ordering the immediate distribution of lands to the beneficiaries. Almost six years hence the massacre, justice remains to be elusive. LUPPA will gather much-needed support from the people to help the farm workers attain justice.”

 

In an interview, lawyer and LUPPA convenor Jobert Pahilga, criticized the reported deal between the HLI and Chinese soda firm Wahaha. Pahilga, who is also counsel of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA), said the talks with the Chinese company “show that HLI has no regard of court processes. The case is pending before SC, but it already engages in acts that undermine the decision recalling the SDO.” Pahilga said that HLI is already preempting a favorable ruling from the court.

 

Meanwhile, Velarde added that the alliance is alarmed of the intensifying militarization in Luisita’s nine barangays. Aside from Citizens’ Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) units which reportedly set up detachments, the US – RP Balikatan will be reportedly conducted in the hacienda according to one of Luisita’s barangay kagawads.

 

ULWU Chairperson Lito Bais attest that the constant presence of CAFGU and other military elements sends a chilling effect to the farmer-beneficiaries and the rest of the residents of Luisita. Moreover, he questioned the HLI management and Aquino administration’s motive in allowing the conduct of the joint military exercise within the disputed sugar estate. “Why does the Balikatan have to be conducted in Luisita? This is not a military ground, are they using the Balikatan to sow terror among us striking farmers?” Bais asked.

Velarde said that the alliance strongly condemns Cojuangco’s brazen show of disrespect for the rights of the farm workers. “They are threatening the rightful owners of the land. LUPPA will not sit idly with this kind of repression.” the coordinator remarked.   

 

Sr. Francis Añover,RSM, RMP Coordinator,

 ULWU Chair Ka Lito Bais and Fr. Gregorio Obejas, OSM

Fr. Gregorio Obejas, OSM and Atty. Joebert Pahilga of SENTRA
       
     
     
     

x

 

Bungkalan: Makatarungang aksiyon ng magsasaka sa Hacienda Luisita

By Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano October 13, 2010

http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2010/10/bungkalan-makatarungang-aksiyon-ng-magsasaka-sa-luisita/

 

 

Bago ang masaker sa welga ng mga manggagawang bukid sa asyenda noong 2004, bawal ang kalabaw sa Luisita. (KR Guda)

 

Batid na ni Gabby Sanchez, ama ni Juancho Sanchez na isa sa mga pinaslang sa Hacienda Luisita, ang isang katotohanan. “Hindi ibibigay ng mga Cojuangco ang lupa,” sabi niya sa mga taong-simbahan na bumisita sa asyenda kamakailan. “Masyado itong mahalaga para sa kanila.”

 

Magsasakang nagtatanim ng palay. (KR Guda)

 

Hindi nakapagtataka ang panaghoy na ito ng mga taga-Hacienda Luisita. Kamakailan, gumuho ang mediation o negosasyong pinamunuan ng Korte Suprema para maresolba ang sigalot sa asyendang pinakatampok na halimbawa ng pagkakait sa lupa sa mga nagbubungkal nito, o kawalan ng reporma sa lupa sa bansa.

 

Sa umpisa pa lamang, bantulot na ang mga manggagawang-bukid na pumasok sa medyasyon, sabi ni Atty. Jobert Pahilga, abogado ng Ambala (Alyansa ng Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita). Aniya, “Ayaw nilang (Korte Suprema) desisyunan ang kaso nang batay sa merito nito.

 

Matamis na ngiti ng isang magsasaka matapos magtanim. (KR Guda)

 

Dahil una, si Noynoy ang isa sa may-ari ng asyenda, kahit ‘di man niya ito aminin. Ayaw nilang maging  kabangga ang presidente sa isyung ito… At kung magdedesisyon ang korte on the merits, tiyak marami pang lupa na nasa ilalim ng SDO (Stock Distribution Option) ang makikinabang.  Sa tingin namin, ayaw nilang gawin ‘yon dahil makakabangga nila ang interes ng landlords sa bansa.”

Bukod sa Ambala na nauna nang nag-walkout sa mediation, tumanggi na ring makipag-usap ang isa pang grupo ng mga manggagawang-bukid dahil sa pakiramdam na niloloko lamang sila ng manedsment.

 

Sa tulong ng mga tagasuporta, nakabili ng makinang pang-araro ang mga magsasakang kolektibong nagtatrabaho sa bukid. (Macky Macaspac)

 

Labas sa Carper

Sinasabing inaabangan ng iba pang panginoong maylupa ang kahihinatnan ng kaso sa Hacienda Luisita, lalo na sa 13 pang asyenda kung saan ipinapatupad ang SDO. Inaabangan din ang tindig dito ni Pang. Benigno Aquino III.

 

 

Bukod sa palay, iba’t ibang gulay din ang itinatanim nila. (Soliman A. Santos)

 

Liban pa sa mga militanteng grupo, marami ang naniniwala na  pumapanig si Aquino sa kanyang pamilya at uring kinabibilangan, dahil sa kabiguan nitong iutos ang pamamahagi ang asyenda, pagpuri sa compromise agreement, at kawalan ng programa sa repormang agraryo.

 

Naiinip na rin ang Simbahang Katoliko, na batid ang kawastuhan ng pamamahagi ng lupa sa Hacienda Luisita, at ang kumunoy na kasasadlakan ni Aquino kapag hindi ito nangyari. “So far, hindi pa nagsasalita ang pangulo sa isyu, kundi ang mga alalay lang niya,” sabi ni Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo, tagapangulo ng National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace ng Catholic Bishops

 

Conference of the Philippines.

 

Inilinaw ni Pahilga na kahit magdesisyon ang Korte Suprema pabor sa manggagawang-bukid, hindi magiging libre ang pamamahagi ng lupa. Sang-ayon sa Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms o Carper, ang Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) muna ang magbabayad sa mga Cojuangco, na babayaran din ng mga magsasaka.

 

 

Nakatanggap ng maraming suporta mula sa iba’t ibang sektor ang pagbubungkal nila, hanggang sa laban para mapasakanila ang lupa ng asyenda. (Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano)

 

Ngayon pa lamang, pilit nang iginigiit ng manedsment na nasa P1 Milyon ang halaga ng isang ektarya ng lupa, sobra-sobra sa halagang itinakda ng LBP.

 

Kaya naman hindi nagpapakasapat ang mga magsasaka’t manggagawang bukid ng Hacienda Luisita sa laban sa korte o sa mga opsiyon ng Carper.

 

May 2,000 ektarya ng asyenda ang kanilang binungkal simula noong 2005 kahit pa man tutol dito ang manedsment ng asyenda.  (Umaabot sa higit 6,000 ektarya ang Hacienda Luisita.) Nagpasya ang mga magsasaka na bungkalin ang lupa dahil na rin sa gutom na dinanas ng kanilang mga pamilya nang matigil ang pagtatanim ng tubo. Sa gayo’y halos inari na rin nila ang lupa.

 

“Ang lupang ito ay sa amin talaga—sa panlilinlang lamang ito napasakamay ng mga Cojuangco,” sabi ni Lito Bais, tumatayong tagapangulo ng United Luisita Workers’ Union.

 

“Modelo” ang pakikibakang ito sa Hacienda Luisita, ani Danilo Ramos, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). “Pinalitan nila ang mga tubuhan ng taniman ng palay, gulay, at prutas. Ipinakita nila na kayang pakinabangan ng mahihirap na Pilipino ang lupa,” aniya.

 

 

Anihan ngayong taon, patuloy na umuunlad. Nagsisikap ang mga magsasaka ng Luisita na paunlarin ang kanilang pagsasaka. Sa kabila ng mga banta ng mga Cojuangco, patuloy nilang pinayayaman ang lupain ng asyenda -- para sa kapakanan ng mas nakararami. (King Catoy)

 

Mitsa ng kilusang magsasaka

Hindi lamang ito nangyayari sa Hacienda Luisita. Sa Negros, halimbawa, 6,000 ektarya sa 30 asyenda ang sinakop ng dating mga manggagawang-bukid. Sa kabila ng panghaharas at pagsasampa ng kasong kriminal sa ilan sa kanila, pinaninindigan nila’t dinedepensahan ang tagumpay ng bungkalan. Layon nilang palawakin pa ito sa mga asyenda ni Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., kamag-anak din ni Pangulong Aquino.

 

 

 

Matagumpay na anihan sa Hacienda Luisita. (King Catoy)

 

Ang mga ganitong tagumpay ang umano’y nagsisilbing mitsa ng kilusang magsasaka sa bansa. Humihingi ng tulong sa pagbasura ng SDO ang mga manggagawang-bukid sa ilang asyenda sa Cebu, ayon kay Pahilga. Ayon naman kay Ramos, nag-oorganisa at naglulunsad ng militanteng aksiyon ang mga magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan, Bikol, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Silangan at Gitnang Bisaya, at Mindanao.


Humahantong ang mga aksiyong ito sa mas malaking partihan sa ani, mas mataas na arawang sahod, mas mataas na presyo ng produkto, hanggang sa pagsakop ng lupa—mga hakbang  sa gitna ng pagkakait sa kanila ng gobyerno ng matarungang aksiyon: ang libreng pamamahagi ng lupa.

“Tuloy ang laban, dahil marami na kaming nasimulan. Sana ‘yung mga anak namin, at ‘yung bayan, ang  makinabang sa aming tagumpay,” sabi ni Anita Flores, dating manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita.

 

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano
KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos
     
Download:: LUPPA Unity Statement
     
     
     
     
     
Venue of the launching of LUPPA
           
     
Video
           
     

 

Agrarian convulsions and the “criminalization of agrarian cases” in Negros
By: Butch S. Espere, Atty. Jobert Pahilga and Atty. Norbert Agulay
(SENTRA Research)
 

November 1, 2010
 

“Hindi kami mga criminal! Kami’y mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid na lumalaban lamang sa atake ng mga panginoong maylupa at ng rehimeng Aquino!” (We are not criminals! We are farmers and farm-workers who are only fighting back the attacks of landlords and the Aquino regime against us!”), Nanay Beka furiously asserted the moment she set foot on the grounds just outside the gates of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City last October 15.

Nanay Beka is part of the delegation of ten men and women, all mass leaders of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Negros Chapter (KMP-Negros) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), who came all the way from Negros to the National Capital Region to join the nationally-coordinated “Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magbubukid para Labanan ang Kontra-Magbubukid na Atake ng Rehimeng Aquino” last October 18-21. Back in her hometown in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, she is facing the criminal charges of “usurpation of real property”, “theft” and “grave threats” filed against her and other members of her organization by the owner of the land they have been tilling.

Other members of the delegation are also facing criminal charges running the gamut from “libel” to “arson” to the non-bailable “multiple murders”, with those facing “multiple murders”, like Ka Tongtong, now playing “hide-and-seek” with the police. Ka Tongtong asserts that with the extension of Oplan Bantay Laya II till January 2011, the charges of “arson” and “multiple murders” are part of the military campaign targeting them and their organizations for counterinsurgency, their organizations having been branded by the military as “communist fronts”.

In the towns and barrios where they came from, hundreds more, mostly ordinary farmers and farm-workers, are facing similar charges - 256 in all of which 56 are with warrants of arrest. This figure only pertains to the northern part of Negros as the delegation did not have data on the central and southern parts of the island. Nevertheless, if all of them are sent to prison, it would wipe out the entire northern chapters of KMP-Negros.

But Nanay Beka, a frail woman in her late 50s and suffering from episodes of hard coughing, is undaunted not one bit. She is filled with optimism that with the advances of the open peasant movement in the country, no wipe out will happen to them. Because of her hard coughing, she badly needs good sleep at night but this had not prevented her from joining the trip to link up with the Lakbayan in Manila to ventilate in its rallies and other forums the “criminalization of agrarian cases” which, they claim, is sweeping the entire Negros and its farmers and farm workers like a super storm. They also want to witness first-hand the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers and exchange experiences with them to be able to pick up learning lessons along the way that could strengthen their peasant movement in Negros. With these, she is confident they can give a good fight against the campaign of repression that the landlord class and the state have been waging against them.

Negros: feudal land monopoly and the sugar monoculture
as trap for landlessness and poverty

As far as the agrarian situation is concerned, Negros has always been a volatile island. The “rice-and-corn-only” character of past agrarian reforms, from the Commonwealth period up to Marcos’ Presidential Decree No. 27, had virtually exempted the entire island from any kind of land distribution. Untouched by any kind of agrarian reform prior to CARP, land monopoly had entrenched deeper and wider in the island, making it a veritable fortress of domestic landlordism. Amidst this entrenched land monopoly is the raging landlessness of millions of farmers and sacadas (farm-workers). The sacadas are the most numerous and cheapest section of landless farm-workers in the country and on that score, the most vulnerable and the most oppressed and exploited. In Negros, these two extremes would draw a line of stark divide between the few Mercedes Benz-riding landlords who loved to spend their weekends in Madrid and the dirt-poor sun-baked sacadas.

In Negros, landlordism and the linkage of the national economy to the global market forged the monoculture sugar crop production that has dominated its economy since the late 19th century and has made the island the hub of the local sugar industry. Recently, some landlord-compradors have introduced new crops into the island, such as mango, ilang-ilang and cassava. But this hardly dented the fact that about 85 per cent of its agricultural lands are devoted to sugar, creating a dependency to the crop such that when people speak of Negros, they speak of sugar and vice versa.

This conjuncture of landlordism and monoculture sugar crop production actually constitutes an economy that is closed to the opportunities for employment generation. Instead, it spawns year in and year out an over-population of rural labor force that finds no match in employment opportunities. As a result, unemployment has always been high in Negros. This is sometimes dusted and mitigated by the seasonal migration of sacadas to other regions and provinces to hunt for odd jobs (because of which they are not seen in the computer screen of bourgeois economists and the government when calculating employment rates). But always the high unemployment asserts itself given that employment opportunities in other parts of the country are no any better.

Such closed economy is what traps the millions of Negrenses in grinding poverty and extreme misery. Where the dominant monoculture sugar crop production could only provide a small space for livelihood and employment for the burgeoning rural labor force, land monopoly closes the avenues for landless farmers and farm-workers to have a land of their own to till or to carve alternative livelihood for themselves. It is, therefore, a vicious trap that has no escape hatch since all exits are slammed shut by land monopoly and the monoculture economy it spawns, compelling the majority to survive in the fringes of the economy.

The closed monoculture sugar production and the overpopulation of rural labor force have enabled the landlord class to hurl the sacadas into two niches that assign them specific roles in the island economy, so specific that both niches appear immutable unless an earthquake turns Negros upside down. One is the niche which makes the sacadas “plantation-bound”. The sacadas produce sugar, the sugar reproduces and perpetuates the sacadas. This creates a life cycle best expressed in the lament among local folks “once a sacada, always a sacada”. As asserted early, the monoculture economy has no escape hatch such that they remain sacadas even if they venture outside the island. For instance, majority of the seasonal workers assigned to the most backbreaking work in Hacienda Luisita are sacadas from Negros. They could even be found as far as Cagayan Valley, true to the local saying that “where there are sugarcanes, there are sacadas”.

The other niche is that which assigned the sacadas the role of starvation wage-earners. Only about 12% of plantation workers in Negros enjoy minimum wages. The rest, they survive outside the minimum wage system like the pakyaw system. Besides low pay, they suffer from inhumane working conditions: no security of tenure, no medical and social security benefits, no safety equipments, no housing and they labor in excess of the regular hours without overtime pay. This is how the monoculture economy reproduces and perpetuates them as sacadas. But as the folks would say, the worst was yet to come.

In the early 1980s, the sugar industry in Negros started losing its glory as one of the pillars of the export-oriented national economy. The lowering of the Philippine quota in the US market caused a sugar slump that sent the local sugar industry tail-spinning in a crisis from which it has never recovered since. Rather than carry the burden of the crisis, landlords reneged on their loans and this opened the flood gates for massive foreclosure of hacienda lands which were later left idle. The national government instituted several rehabilitation programs but while these programs managed to restore the sugar tycoons to their old position of wealth and power, using the rehabilitation funds to diversify their interests into banking and finance, they failed to regain for the sugar industry its old luster. The industry sunk into the sunset. Today, it’s only a shadow of its old self, contributing a mere 8 per cent of the country’s export receipts in contrast to the 30 per cent it commanded in the 1970s.

The steep descend of the sugar industry into the sunset impacted most heavily on the rural poor of Negros. Among ordinary rural folks, crisis has a way of congealing the community spirit. But among the ruling class, crisis is time for digging in like Scrooge. Landlords scaled down production, putting on the altar the economy’s favorite sacrificial lambs. They cut down their labor force, driving unemployment upwards and further depressing wages that were already at starvation level. In better times, landlords allowed their idle lands to be worked on by sacadas during what they call lean months when no work was available in the plantations. But just at the critical moment when such generosity was most needed as work became scarcer, they became stricter to itinerant farm-workers who scrounged the island for idle lands to till. They refused farm-workers a chance to work on their idle lands even when these lands were already foreclosed by the banks, hiring private armed groups to ensure their lands were cleared of “squatters” and “trespassers”.

For almost a decade, hunger and extreme malnutrition stalked the island. A kid named Joel Abong, bone-thin and with eyes sunken deep into their sockets, became the poster boy of the impact of the sugar crisis, sending many reform-minded NGOs to wail in horror and disgust and to come to the rescue in droves like flies.

CARP and agrarian convulsions in Negros

This was the situation of the island when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was enacted in 1988. On the one hand, with the Negrense landlords’ profits from sugar production falling due to the decline of the sugar industry, Negros became the scene of the fiercest landlord resistance even to land distribution schemes that offered fat just compensation for their lands. To frustrate land distribution, they rallied behind former Gov. Daniel Lacson who tried to pre-empt CARP by implementing the Negros Land for a Productive Life Program. It was an ambitious program of “restructuring the countryside of Negros” through “voluntary land sharing” along with a 60-30-10 scheme for land use that was supposedly meant to break the sugar monoculture dominance in the local economy. Lacson and the landlords insisted on calling “voluntary land sharing” as “agrarian reform” when all its content was actually charity work.

When the program faded along with Lacson, many Negrense landlords turned to making common cause with degenerate rebel groups - those splittists who suddenly realized after a night of drunken spree that Negrense landlords, in contrast to parasitic landlords in the rest of the country, played a progressive role in developing the island’s economy and, therefore, should be considered allies in their “military adventurist” project. This meeting of the moribund and the confused produced a partnership which, in Negros, would sire a distinct strain of reactionary yet, at once, neo-liberal agrarian reform.

On the other hand, since the program purported to cover for the first time export crop lands, including sugar lands, expectations were naturally high among Negros farmers and farm-workers that they could finally partake of land distribution and social justice and be bailed out from poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The governments of Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos would even raise these ground expectations higher by making a show that projected Negros as a “flashpoint” of poverty incidence and, therefore, a “highest priority area” in their so-called “war against poverty” of which land distribution under CARP and land tenurial improvement (i.e., provision of support services through the establishment of Agrarian Reform Communities) were major components. For this purpose, they even created a Task Force Sugarlandia whose main task was to speed up the implementation of agrarian reform in Negros and turn the island into a “showcase for CARP success”.

Confronted with the colliding currents of landlord resistance and high stakeholders’ expectations, the government which implemented CARP chose to stand agrarian reform on its head. After all, CARP was not lacking in provisions that could give a semblance of reform by pandering to the insatiable appetite of landlords while giving the thirsty the illusion of flowing water in a desert. Far from the government wielding its political will to meet high expectations, the intent to turn the island into a “showcase for CARP success” became a honeyed campaign to appease the recalcitrant Negrense landlords. And to appease the “spoiled brats” of the feudal circus, CARP transformed the island in a swoop into a vibrant laboratory for experimenting with non-land transfer and landlord tenurial schemes passed off as alternatives to land distribution, with no less than the Task Force Sugarlandia promoting those schemes.

Predictably, the focal point which rationalized those experiments is the monoculture economy of the island. To the ideologues and technocrats of CARP, the language of reform easily gave way to the sterile idea, which the landlord class in the country would repeatedly pontificate like it were an iron law, that actual and physical distribution of Negros sugar lands would disintegrate the economy of scale in the island. Backed up by the erstwhile degenerate splittists now ensconced in NGOs as agrarian reform “experts”, such rationalization easily cemented into DAR’s favorite and template alibi for those non-land transfer tenurial schemes that produced in Negros and elsewhere in the country a “land to the landlord” CARP masquerading as “innovations” of agrarian reform. Instead of becoming an instrument for breaking up land monopoly in Negros and the monoculture economy it spawns, CARP, weakened in the first instance by its factory defects, was itself trapped by the entrenched land monopoly. The intent to appease the Negrense landlord class had so overwhelmed the program that it actually functioned more like the investiture acts of kings of medieval times, stamping with legality the landlord class’ perpetuated control of vast landholdings.

Thus, instead of actual and physical land distribution, non-land transfer schemes such as leaseback, joint venture, production management contract, labor management contract, and stock distribution option have reigned supreme in Negros. Except perhaps for the leaseback and SDO, all these schemes were first experimented in Negros before they were implemented in other parts of the country. As experiments, they were justified as “training stage” for the farmers and farm workers’ take over in the near future but they are actually meant to become permanent, with built-in clauses for automatic extension of their life span. And speaking of the SDO, of the 15 SDOs implemented in the country, 14 are in Negros.

In these schemes, the so-called ARBs were handed CLOAs for decorations on the walls of their hovels (enabling DAR-Negros to report a high CARP distribution rate) while the landlords kept their naked dominion over the land. It is estimated that these schemes combine to cover 40,000 hectares of CARP lands in Negros. This says nothing of the vast landholdings that avoided distribution altogether through exemption and exclusion.

In 1998, the promotion in the island of alternatives to land distribution culminated in the implementation of “corporative scheme” in 11 haciendas of Eduardo Cojuangco Jr, covering 5,030 hectares for which he was given by then Pres. Joseph Estrada the title of “godfather of agrarian reform”. The “corporative scheme” has enabled Cojuangco not only to maintain control of his 11 haciendas but also dominate the cooperative of the farm workers as well as the putative “joint venture” he entered into with them. In addition, since the acquisition mode was supposed to be voluntary land transfer, he got to milk the farm workers with P350,000/hectare as just compensation (payable in ten years). And because he was the owner of the lands, it was Cojuangco who decided who should be “beneficiaries” to his “corporative scheme”.

Beside non-transfer schemes and exemption, bureaucratic inertia also stymied CARP implementation of medium landholdings in Negros. In many cases, farmers and farm workers were identified as ARBs way back in the 1990s. A good number of them had even started paying their amortizations. But after more than a decade, they still have to make good their formal possession and enjoyment of the land that were promised them because DAR simply bided for time for landlords to soften in their resistance to land distribution.

Consequently, the high expectations of Negrense farmers and farm workers gave way to deep frustrations so soon as it became clear that the law which promised them land to till is the same law which furnished landlords the wide berth for escaping land distribution altogether.

In 2008, the situation started turning for the worst, like a noose tightening on the neck of farmers and farm-workers. In the first quarter of the year, a rice crisis walloped the country that triggered the prices of rice and other food stuffs to skyrocket to heights unimagined before. In the middle of the year, typhoon Frank devastated the central part of the country, leaving behind a destruction of P15 billion worth of crops, properties and livelihood. At the backdrop of all this was the global economic crisis that fired off a series of bloodbath in the global market and massacre of jobs the world over.

As reaction to the global economic crisis, landlords cut down their labor force even further and started withdrawing the non-wage benefits of their regular workers. Scaling down production was the order of the day even in urban-based industries and enterprises which meant that the displaced and the unemployed had nowhere to run. Landlords and businessmen did all this while the country just came off a rice crisis. Moreover, many landlords began to rely more on the pakyaw system through which they could squeeze the labor-power of farmers and farm workers with only the most minimal outlay for labor costs. This not only depressed farm wages even further but also made work opportunities even scarcer as work gangs of five would seize on pakyaw work previously undertaken by ten or more farm workers. This year, just when everybody thought the worst was over, a long drought struck.

This is the situation that starting in the last quarter of 2008 has driven many farmers and farm-workers to organize in groups to go looking for idle lands to till, igniting a wave of land cultivation campaigns that rolled across the countryside of Negros and putting the island on the throes of agrarian convulsions. And it is precisely this situation - that is trapping millions of farmers and farm-workers in landlessness and poverty and moving like strangling hands tightening on their neck - that is bound to be extended for at least five years by the enactment last year of Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer).

Outlawing the “backbone of the economy”,
criminalizing the “success of peasant land distribution initiatives”

Nanay Beka has been a farm worker even before she reached the age of puberty. Because of low pay in the sugar plantations she worked on, she also does farming on the sides. She bewails that they who feed the nation and lionized in so many books and newspaper articles as the “backbone of the national economy” are today treated as “criminals”.

“We are not like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who cheated her way to remain president of the country and had grown richer by corruption”, she says angrily in thickly-accented Tagalog. Then she goes on to point out the sheer unfairness of it all, “She is now freely strutting her shameless feathers in the halls of Congress untouched by the new administration while we farmers and farm workers who are simply trying to assert our rights as agrarian reform beneficiaries and eke out a decent living are summoned or hunted by the authorities for crimes we did not commit”.

According to Nanay Beka, they were charged with various criminal offenses because they did not choose to sit down simply looking up to the sky when the landowners of the land for which they had been named beneficiaries maneuvered to remove the land from the coverage of land distribution. In a word, they fought back and vowed to continue fighting back.

The 30-hectare landholding, a foreclosed property, was declared as early as 2003 by the Department of Agrarian Reform-Negros Occidental as covered for CARP land distribution. But its distribution could not proceed because the Opdinaria family, the putative landowners, clung to their ownership rights despite the foreclosure, eluding the coverage of their property by simply refusing to receive the several notices of coverage from DAR-Negros Occidental.

Nanay Beka could no longer count the dialogues that DAR-Negros Occidental had called and went to naught because of the non-appearance of the landowners. But for them, blame for the delay in distributing the land goes not only to the landowners but to DAR as well. They could not understand why DAR is seemingly helpless and, through a period of seven years, could not hurdle the simple landlord tactic of refusing to receive the notice of coverage. They also decried that DAR had done nothing in protecting them from the terroristic ways of the landowners. While the landowners could not make themselves available for dialogues, they frequently appeared in the land with police (the Opdinarias have one of their kin working as head of the human resource management office of the Escalante City Hall) in tow to intimidate and harass Nanay Beka and her fellow farmers into giving up their claims as agrarian reform beneficiaries. Nanay Beka and her fellow farmers kept their peace despite the long delay and mounting harassments.

The last straw came when they learned that the Opdinaria family had the land successfully reclassified into a residential-commercial zone. Immediately upon knowing this, they sought the organizers of KMP-Negros to ask help in organizing a “land cultivation campaign” (bungkalan) in order to assert their claim over the land as agrarian reform beneficiaries. With 35 families joining, they held a three-day camp out in the land, harvested its standing sugar crops and planted it with rice and corn. A month after the camp out, they received subpoenas from the office of the city prosecutor for “usurpation of real property” and “theft” while Nanay Beka, as leader of the farmers’ organization, was singled out for “grave threats” in addition to the earlier mentioned offenses.

The land cultivation initiated by Nanay Beka and her fellow farmers would be replicated in other parts of Negros. In early 2009, spreading like a prairie fire, it assumed the magnitude of a movement of farmers and farm workers undertaking “land distribution” – by their own, of their own and for their own. At the same time, it testifies to the monstrous CARP failure in more than twenty two years of implementation in the island.  ►►

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Sociologists have an explanation for this phenomenon. They call it “the moral economy of the peasant”, that spirit which moves peasants to act in accordance with millenarian conception of equality, justice, community sharing and harmony with nature. It is this spirit which explains why to a farmer, it is almost obligatory upon anyone to allow other people to work on one’s land when one’s land is idle. It is this spirit which animates the farmer to the almost instinctive if not natural reaction of tilling an idle land when he sees one. If this spirit is no respecter of Torrens title and other contrived proofs of dominion, it is because in the moral economy of the peasant, idleness in land is waste and waste is morally wrong, especially where such waste occurs amidst the want and hunger of other members of the community. In as much as it has helped peasants survive through different difficulties such as brought about by encroachments of the money economy into their once self-reliant communities, this spirit is functional and, therefore, morally right as to them. It should not be judged by that external bourgeois artifice of what is legal and what is not.

As the land cultivation campaigns spread, so did it spark a counterattack from the landlord class in which criminal cases are heaped here and there upon the farmers and farm-workers. Many of these alleged criminal acts are actually ordinary part of their lives but which the landlord class suddenly imputed with malice because these were done in assertion of their rights to land. Ordinary acts of cultivating the land have suddenly become “usurpation of private property”, burning the straws as part of cleaning the field has become “arson”, harvesting the fruits of their labor has become “qualified theft”, holding meetings has become “illegal assembly”, and asserting one’s right as ARBs has become “grave threats” or “coercion”. A number of the charges include obviously frivolous cases like “malicious mischief”, “oral defamation”, and “libel”, indicating that the landlord class of Negros, with the aid of the DAR and the prosecution arm of the state, has thrown not only the kitchen sink but the whole kitchen against the farmers and farm workers.

Because of landlord counterattack using criminalization of agrarian cases, some of the land cultivation campaigns are experiencing difficulties that add to the problems they encounter that bear on sustaining their cultivation. Money, which is scarce in the first place and that could have gone a long way to augmenting their capital for production, is allotted instead for such unproductive expenditures like fare for going to and fro the cities to see a lawyer, gathering documents and payment for filing fees. The cases also distract the farmers and farm workers at both organizational and family levels. Instead of focusing on how to better organize production and improve productivity, organizational efforts are diverted toward putting up a legal defense machinery and support system for the accused and soliciting for litigation fund. At the family level, buying medicines for the sickness of a household member or the school allowances of children are sacrificed in favor of litigation expenses. Those with warrants of arrest have been forced into hiding, isolating them from their family and organization.

This says nothing about the landlord class being not contented with using the legal and judicial system against the farmers and farm workers. Most often as to make up a pattern of ruling class habit, the criminalization of agrarian cases is combined with the use of armed goons or the militarization of the agrarian front. This is so facile in Negros since it is home to various splinter groups of the RPA-ABB and other splittist rebel bands which have long entered into collaboration with the landlord class and made the island the launching pad for their mercenary activities and “money-making special projects”.

But despite the odds of criminalization of agrarian disputes, use of armed goons and militarization of the agrarian front, some also succeeded in cultivating the land without DAR help and these success stories radiated inspiration to other farmers and farm workers that in the latter part of 2008, KMP-Negros decided to provide them with guidance in order to increase their chances of success. For now, their number one barometer for success is that the farmers and farm-workers have stocked their houses with cavans and cavans of grains without paying a cent to any Don Iggy or the Boss. To date, these peasant actions have scored 24 land cultivation initiatives covering more or less 1381 hectares and benefitting 933 households or some 2,000 farmers and farm workers.
 

reg Ratin of KMP-Negros states that they came to the aid of the farmers and farm workers in their land cultivation campaigns because these initiatives constitute the “leveling” mechanism in the highly iniquitous agrarian situation in Negros. He points out that these farmers and farm workers have no more other choice but to rot in their huts and die. But the land cultivation campaigns, though highly risky, give them a way out from such no-choice dire straits “so KMP-Negros has to provide them the support structure to their initiatives”. Crucial to this support structure is the provision of legal aid machinery to defend the farmers and farm workers from landlord counterattack that makes use of the existing legal and judicial system. Another crucial factor is the consolidation of the farmers and farm workers so as to prepare them for the worst.

He notes that while landlords in Negros have their armed goons and the military as well as local governments and Congress that stacks the landless with anti-poor and anti-farmer laws and programs, the helpless and starving farmers and farm-workers go through life under the concept of “don’t take the law unto your own hands”. In a way, he further explains, the land cultivation campaigns aim to break out from such concept that does no service and no good to the landless and the poor as far as agrarian reform is concerned, hoping that, in the backdrop of worsening economic conditions, it could force a rethinking toward the acceptance of land cultivation-cum-occupation or any form of direct action by the farmers and farm-workers as a valid and legitimate grassroots initiative.

Reflecting on the criminal cases she is facing, Nanay Beka laments that the landlord class and the state are criminalizing not only her person as a farmer but also land distribution, especially that land distribution effected by the farmers and farm workers themselves. She notes that given the global economic crisis that has swallowed the poor in a throat-cutting black hole of intensified impoverishment, the government should be happy that landless farmers and farm workers of this country have managed to eke out a survival without government help.

“Hindi ba sila natutuwa na kumakain na kami ng bigas na hindi NFA?” (Aren’t they happy that we are now eating rice not coming from the NFA?”), she asks with a noticeable trace of sarcasm. Would it be that even that is now subject to persecution and punishment? In the end, she concludes, the ultimate effect of all this criminalization of agrarian cases is the criminalizing and eventual outlawing of their right to land and survival.

Coming off from a four day-integration in Hacienda Luisita, Nanay Beka and company have drawn inspiration from the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers. They are confident that they have been enriched and strengthened by their sharing of experiences and that they are now ready to go back to Negros. And as she had vowed when she set foot on the grounds outside the gate of DAR-National Office, she and her fellow farmers and farm workers in Negros would give the landlord class and the state a good fight.

   
     
Mga Tula (Poems)
           
   

 

BAHAGHARI
- Nonilon V. Queano/27October2010

Ngiti sana ang salubong
Sa karit ng bahagharing
Pinaduklay ng tikbalang,
Awit sana sa ganda ng sabunot
Ng habagat na palayan.

Ngunit pagal na ang puso,
Hilam sa gutom ang mata,
Humal ang dilang aawit,
Kaya karit ng dilag na bahaghari
Pantatagpas sa gahaman.

 

 

ASYENDA
-Nonilon V. Queano/16Oktubre2010

Ako’y isinilang, lumaki’t tumanda
Sa asyendang bukid ng aking ninuno
Mundo’y do’n gumulong, tulad sa gunita
Tinagpas ng hirap, kinain ng laho

Ang musmos na hubo at hubad sa araw
May kuwerdas ang dibdib, ang balat ay hapit
Patinga-tingala at palagaw-lagaw
Limot kung kailan kumita ng langit

Ang inang kumandong sa kaniyang anak
Sa oras ng gutom, sakit, pagtitiis
Minsan’y sakada rin, halibas ay itak
Lahat pati puso’y sinimpan sa hapis

Ang amang nahutok sa pakikitalad
Sa hirap at pagod, gutom, pagdarahop
Nag-asam ng laya, nangarap lumipad
Ngunit mula’t mula’y kalos na ang salop

Walang ibabagwis ang sahod-pulubi
Ipupugal lamang nang paikot-ikot
Paano uusad kung ni ang pambili
Ng pagkain, damit, lahat di masimot

Ganito ang buhay sa asyenda namin
Bawa’t henerasyon’y kuwentong susulatin
Mistulang bilanggo kung aming limiin
At ang kuwentong ito’y uulit-ulitin

Subalit mayroong bagong pangyayari
Nitong huling araw na di pa nasulat
Mga manggagawa sa asyenda dini
Ang nagsibalikwas tila nangamulat

Kasabay din noon may mga nautas
Sa putok ng baril ng guwardiyang bayaran
Ngunit hudyat yaon ng lalong paglakas
Ng kilos protesta dito sa tubuhan

Yaong kuwentong yaon'y nais kong awitin
Ilalahad bukas at sana’y limiin,
Yaon din ang araw na sa papawirin
Sana’y makalipad kauring alipin.

 

 

TAO, ANONG KARAPATAN MO ANG NILABAG NILA NGAYON
- Nonilon V. Queano


Ninakawan ka ba ng laya,
Binusalan ba ang bibig,
Nang magsabi ng totoo,
Inalipin, ginahasa ng amo mo,
Kinulangan ng suweldo,
Tinatratong parang hayop,

Pinasamba sa diyos nilang hindi sa ‘yo,
Pinalayas, sinunog ba ang bahay mo,
Pinatay ba o dinukot ang ‘yong anak
O asawa o ang mahal mo na lumaban at nangarap.

Tao,
Karapatan mo na mabuhay nang payapa
Karapatan mong lumigaya nang may dangal at malaya!

 

 

TATLONG TANAGA
- Nonilon V. Queano


1.
Muntik nang mapatula
Sa bomba ng tanaga
Ngunit puno ng luha
43'y di pa laya.

2.
Sige na nga, sige na,
Ang tula ay ikasa
Apatnapu't tatlo ba
P-noy, kailan lalaya?

3. Sigaw ng bayang api
Free the Morong 43
Lumalim na ang gabi
Hustisya'y bakit bingi?

 

 

 

Super Gahaman
by Pia Montalban

[Para kay Lucio Tan, Gabby Lopez,
mga Cojuangco at Aquino, mga Ayala,
at lahat nitong bahagi ng Oligarkiya]

Super Gahaman*
ang Villain ng Bayan
Sila'y iilan
subali't makapangyarihan

At sa mantika
ng lakas paggawa
ng abang manggagawa
pinuputahe nila'y sala--

Inutang nila sa manggagawa
hindi lang pawis na ganta-ganta
na siyang tunay na puhunang
kumikita ng bilyong pisong yaman nitong bansa!

At sa kanilang kapangyarihan
bilang mga Super Gahaman
espesyal nilang katangian
ang pangaapi't pagsasamantala,
espesyal nilang kalakasan
ang kumitil ng kinabukasan ng aba
espesyal nilang sanggalang
ang mga buhong na burukrata kapitalista
mga lingkod bayan mapanlinlang
ayun pala'y mga tuta't buwaya
na kakampi nitong mga buhong na kapitalista,
mga Super Gahamang villain.

Pagsakop sa bansa
ang misyon ng Oligarkiya**
Ang kontrolin ang ekonomiya
lalo na ang larangan ng pulitika
hanggang pati kultura

Ngunit ang sabi ng alamat
ng balbasing matabang matanda
Na sinusugan ng mga dalumat
May kalunasan sa pagsasamantala
Kailangan lamang ang pumakat
at sa mamamayan ay magmulat--

Ang pagpapasya na gapiin
ang naghaharing Villain
ay wala sa guhit ng palad
bagkus tayo ang uugit at magtitilad
upang sa huli'y mailantad
ang kahinaan
ng mga Super Gahaman:

Pagibig sa puso
ang dadaig sa mga tuso.
Pag-ibig na magbubuklod-bulid
magbubuhol ng lubid
ng hanay sa pinagsamang
karit, maso't paninindigan :)

Marahas ang tunggalian
at saksing 'di maiiwasan
ang lupa'y madiligan
ng dugong buwis
ng masang anakpawis,
ngunit imbes na kumulambo
sa ati'y takot sa mga berdugo
ay lalong pagliyab ng mga sulo
sa ating mga umiibig na puso.

Tutupukin nito
ang tatsulok na palasyo
na siyang luklukan
ng kapangyarihan
nitong mga Super Gahaman.

Tanging ang may Pag-ibig sa puso
ang makahuhugot ng talinhaga
nitong mistikal na karit at maso
na magwawakas ng ating tanikala!

Super Gahaman
ang Villain ng Bayan
Sila'y makapangyarihan
ngunit ito di'y may katapusan!

----

* Terminong lumutang sa pakikipagkwentuhan kay Kuya Rolli habang nakiupo sa picketlyn ng IJMWU ang unyon ng mga manggagawa sa operations ng ABSCBN.

** ang kulto ng mga Super Gahaman

 

           
=          
==          
     

Hacienda Luisita: Agrarian Reform and Social Justice Issue

Double click on slide to enlarge

           
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Hacienda Luisita: Agrarian Reform and the Luisita Experience

Double click on slide to enlarge

           
     
     
     
     
     

These slides are from the power point presentations of Atty. Joebert Pahilga, Executive Director of SENTRA (Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo)

 

Downloiad:

 

■   Agrarian Reform and the Luisita Experience

 

■   Hacienda Luisita: Agranrian Reform and Social Justice Issue

     
     
     

Farmers of Hacienda Luisita and Negros at Maskara protest at Mendiola

Photos by UMA Pilipinas

           
     
   
     
     
**          

 

 
 

Google