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TERRORIZING THE PEOPLE TO GRAB LAND:
Luisita under Reign of Terror and Impunity,
Wanton disregard for rule of law by BS Aquino's family
2 years after landmark SC ruling, Hacienda Luisita land distribution a monumental failure
 

April 30,  2014

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P-Noy and kin milking peasants and taxpayers dry with Hacienda Luisita land reform scam since 1957
Voluminous land titles, documents unearthed by farmers and supporters
Posted on April 23, 2014

The Cojuangco-Aquino family has been swindling Luisita peasants and the Filipino people since Magsaysay time. As one of the most influential and politically-savvy of landlord clans in the country, they have used all their power to accrue profits, milking public funds dry while cunningly retaining control of the vast sugar plantation especially during the two Cojuangco-Aquino presidencies.

This is the statement made by Florida Sibayan, chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA.) AMBALA, the main petitioner favored by the Supreme Court (SC) in a landmark decision released two years ago, represents thousands of farmworkers fighting for genuine agrarian reform and social justice in Hacienda Luisita.

A voluminous sheaf of land titles and documents were presented today by AMBALA to the press, to prove that the Cojuangco-Aquino family had time and again swindled not only farmers but the whole Filipino people with its land reform posturings. AMBALA and its supporters uncovered the titles and documents as a result of extensive research on Cojuangco firms engaged in aggresive landgrabbing efforts, after the SC ruled to distribute land to farmers.

“P-Noy and his family owe their wealth and influence to every farmer and taxpayer that they have disenfranchised and swindled for generations, ” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson. The Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) acquired the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) from its original Spanish owners in 1957, using money loaned from the GSIS and endorsed by Bangko Sentral. The rest of the 6,000 plus hectare estate went under their control via an understanding with the Magsaysay government that under its social justice program, these lands will be distributed to its original owners, the small farmers, after 10 years.

“Now the Aquino administration granted Presidential kin half a billion pesos as compensation for Hacienda Luisita. Public funds were once again used to enrich this scheming landlord clan when they in fact have never fulfilled their loan obligations to the Filipino public after 50 years.”

Josephine Cojuangco-Guingona, daughter of Luisita kingpin Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. recently claimed that certain landholdings in Luisita were reclassified in 1985 and should not be covered by agrarian reform. “That’s a lie,” said Sibayan. “The only time Luisita was supposedly reclassified was in 1995, during the stint of her mother, Tingting Cojuangco, as governor of Tarlac. The DAR, however, approved only 500 hectares for actual conversion. Very opposite to their claims, what actually happened in 1985 was that the Manila Regional Trial Court ruled that TADECO must finally distribute Luisita to farmers. That breakthrough court decision was sabotaged by Cory’s CARP and SDO in 1989.”

“Now in 2012, the SC ruled to revoke the Stock Disribution Option (SDO) scheme, distribute land to farmworkers and pay us our share of the Php 1.33 B proceeds of land sale by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) – precisely because of the grave injustices we endured under this SDO landlord scam legalized by Cory’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Today the CARP and its extension CARPER still serves as a milking cow for landlords. The Cojuangco-Aquinos do not deserve a single centavo for Hacienda Luisita” said Sibayan.
 


The SDO scheme in Tarlac brought extreme poverty and suffering to farmworkers and prompted thousands to rise up and strike against the HLI management. However, this same big landlord scam is still in effect in 10 Negros haciendas leaving thousands of hectares of agricultural land under the control of a handful of powerful and scheming landlords.

The original land area of Hacienda Luisita is widely known to be 6, 453 hectares, but only 4,915 were declared by the Cojuangcos to be agricultural in use when the SDO was implemented in 1989. Of these thousands of hectares, 500 hectares were approved land use conversion, thus the SC order to subtract this figure along with 80.5 hectares of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to come up with 4,335 hectares for land distribution in its 2012 ruling.

This land coverage swindleis aggravated by the new survey conducted by the DAR-hired firm FF Cruz, Co. which further reduced declared agricultural lands in Luisita by another 200 plus hectares, despite the SC order to place under land reform “other agricultural lands originally held by TADECO that were allegedly not transferred to HLI but were supposedly covered by RA 6657 (CARP)”.

In a letter dated April 10, AMBALA dared the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to cover more than a thousand hectares of agricultural land which the Cojuangco-Aquinos deliberately hid from agrarian reform. The titles and documents trace the transfer of land property to several Cojuangco-Aquino corporate avatars to deliberately hide these landholdings from the scrutiny of farmers and agrarian reform institutions.

Among landholdings without proper conversion orders are the Las Haciendas de Luisita, Don Pepe Cojuangco Homes and Park Homes subdivisions, the Luisita Industrial Park 1 Complex, the Luisita Golf & Country Club, the Aquino Museum and the Plaza Luisita mall complex or Robinsons Luisita. AMBALA reiterates that only 500 hectares of land were legally put under land use conversion and this was approved by the DAR only in 1996. Thus several lucrative transactions made before this year or covering landholdings aside from the 500-hectare area, undermine the Cojuangco-Aquino family’s primary obligation to the government and the public – to return these lands to its original owners, the farmers.

If properly accounted for, the HLI and the Cojuangco-Aquino family may be obligated to compensate farm workers not just with the Php 1.33 billion returns but with all other hefty revenues from its illegitimate transactions involving Hacienda Luisita property.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are now desperately ‘seeking support’ from local village officials and local government to justify its illegal and immoral Luisita Ecozone project. In Hacienda Lusita, P-Noy’s so-called ‘daang matuwid’ is a blood-stained path which reeks of brazen corruption, deceit, bribery and coercion.”

Luisita farmers will hold a solidarity cultural activity with supporters from different sectors in front of the DAR offices along Elliptical Road Quezon City tonight. Hundreds of Luisita farmers trooped to Manila to protest the hoax land distribution scheme implemented by the DAR, exactly two years after the landmark SC ruling. #

 
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Photos by AMBALA and UMA PILIPINAS
           
     


Video by Bulatlat
The Philippine government has awarded Hacienda Luisita, a 6,435-hectare estate controlled by the family of the president of the Philippines, to landless farmers. UCAN News joined a group of farmers who tried to enter their land. Armed guards, however, blocked the way. Here is the farmers’ story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9FjNMw7dQ0

UCANews: Philippine farmers’ land battle
Posted on April 15, 2014
See report on UCANews site:
http://www.ucanews.com/news/farmers-land/70679


 

     
     

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NEWS RELEASE: AMBALA-UMA, April 30, 2014

PH Human Rights Commission confirms

violations in Hacienda Luisita


President Benigno Aquino III should look at his erstwhile 6,000-hectare backyard Hacienda Luisita before defending his human rights record.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) led by Commissioner Atty. Norberto dela Cruz and Region III Director Atty. Jasmin Navarro Regino confirmed various reports of grave rights violations in Hacienda Luisita during its field investigation held yesterday, April 29.

CHR’s confirmation quickly bellies claims made by President Aquino before a media conference with US President Barack Obama, that the Aquino government tolerates criticism and is not stifling dissent.

The regional CHR branch, the government’s official human rights desk headed in the national level by a known Aquino ally, Etta Rosales, was purportedly prompted to investigate rights violations in Hacienda Luisita only after receiving alerts from concerned international human rights organizations based in Canada.

Local peasant leader Florida Sibayan said that ordinary farmers, individual members of the farmworkers’ alliance AMBALA and their supporters have been targets of relentless violent attacks by the Cojuangco-Aquino family in its aggressive bid to retain control of Hacienda Luisita. Local CHR officials were able to monitor renewed rights violations against Luisita farmers in as early as September last year, when Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap was unlawfully nabbed by Tarlac police along with Sibayan and nine (9) other delegates to a fact-finding mission. The CHR, however, never conducted any ground investigation until yesterday.

The frail 58-year old Sibayan, who is a survivor of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre, said that since the Supreme Court (SC) ruled to distribute Luisita to farmworkers in 2011, she has been mauled by authorities at least thrice and unlawfully detained twice; her family’s farm hut, crops, and livestock literally ran over by Cojuangco bulldozers. Sibayan continues to face threats and fabricated harassment suits for questioning the government’s “hoax land distribution scheme” implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

CHR’s investigation revealed that Sibayan is but one of hundreds of other victims of the recent spate of terror wrought by the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Hacienda Luisita. CHR officials were told that perpetrators violate farmers’ rights with impunity due to the collusion of government agencies such as the DAR and the local PNP.

Reacting to reports of the DAR’s failure to issue a cease and desist order (CDO) against Cojuangco firm TADECO to curb the violent eviction of farmers beginning December 2013, CHR Commissioner Atty. dela Cruz admitted that “four months have gone and human rights have been already violated, late na nga (it is already late).” The Commissioner refers to Director III Atty. Regino’s promise to send a letter to the DAR to push the latter to issue the CDO petitioned by AMBALA since December 26, 2013.

Several DAR officials including Tarlac Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) Chief Ileona Pangilinan have washed their hands of any responsibility concerning farmers’ grievances and the worsening rights situation in Hacienda Luisita, prompting hundreds of Luisita farmers to storm the DAR compound last Thursday, April 24, the second anniversary of the SC’s Luisita ruling.

DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, meanwhile, has consistently snubbed the farmworkers’ requests for a dialogue.

Instead of addressing urgent issues concerning land distribution, Delos Reyes and his Undersecretary Anthony Parungao, have instigated further violence against farmers through a media word war with AMBALA, in effect giving the green light to minions of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to continue violent attacks against farmworkers and individuals associated with AMBALA.

Officials of the CHR Region III promised to closely monitor future incidents and all active trumped-up charges filed against farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita. The most recent incident involved the incredulous filing of physical injury charges against the very farmer-victims of a “Martilyo-Gang”-type attack instigated by thugs hired by the Cojuangco-Aquinos last March 28 in Barangay Cutcut. #
 

     



DATE: APRIL 2, 2014
REFERENCE: Gi Estrada
CONTACT NO.: 09166114181

AGRARIAN REFORM CHIEF INSTIGATED LATEST ATTACK VS LUISITA FARMERS

By all indications, it was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary himself, Virgilio de los Reyes, who instigated the latest violent attack against Hacienda Luisita farm workers. On March 28, thugs hired by Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) attacked Barangay Cutcut farmers with hammers and shovels. The brutal attack was supported by soldiers, a fully-armed SWAT team and the Tarlac police who arrested three farmers, ransacked and burned the headquarters of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and conducted warrantless raids in the community.

Secretary delos Reyes’ consistent defense of landlord interests in Hacienda Luisita has emboldened hirelings of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to assault defiant Luisita farmers. The DAR and the various other involved state authorities should be held accountable for criminal acts against farmworker-beneficiaries.

A day before the attack, delos Reyes was quoted in a media interview as saying that disputed lands in Barangays Cutcut and Balete are still property of TADECO and have not yet been issued any Notice of land reform Coverage (NOC) by his office. He further stated that bulldozing of lands and putting up of concrete walls by TADECO cannot be considered as illegal acts of land conversion.

Delos Reyes’s outrageous and incredulous statements expose not only his incompetence and indifference but, more seriously, his criminal culpability for the countless violations against the rights and livelihood of Luisita farmers. Contrary to Delos Reyes’s irresponsible claims, so-called “TADECO areas” in Barangays Cutcut & Balete with a total of 358 hectares have already been issued NOCs by the DAR. The notices were published by The Philippine Star on December 17, 2013. TADECO started bulldozing crops in Barangay Balete on that same day.

As early as December 26, 2013, AMBALA filed a Cease and Desist (CDO) petition with DAR to stop TADECO eviction and bulldozing activities. To follow up on this urgent petition, AMBALA leaders engaged DAR officials in personal dialogues on January 21 in Quezon City, and March 24 in Tarlac City. But until now, the DAR has yet to act on the CDO petition. By mimicking President BS Aquino’s “Noynoying” expertise – doing absolutely nothing – the DAR is practically allowing TADECO to trample upon farmers’ rights with impunity. On February 8, President BS Aquino’s birthday, TADECO proceeded to burn farmers’ huts in Barangay Balete.

AMBALA asserts that around a thousand hectares of prime lands were cunningly excluded by the DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos from land distribution, but is covered by the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to distribute all agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers. In Barangay Mapalacsiao and in other areas like Central, Lourdes, and Parang, 214 hectares are fenced off and bulldozed by another Cojuangco entity, the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac, where Presidential sister Kris Aquino sits as board member.

Secretary de los Reyes acts like the spokesperson of the Cojuangco-Aquino family by saying that these agricultural lands are supposedly classified as residential. But the Cojuangco-Aquino family never applied for land reform exemptions with the DAR, other than a 500-hectare area now fenced by RCBC and Luisita Realty. Even this 500-hectare area is subject to an earlier AMBALA petition for the revocation of the 1995 conversion order issued by the DAR. After almost two decades, the said area did not undergo any kind of development and remains agricultural.

Meanwhile, arrested farmers Ofelia Hernandez, Marcelino Lugay, and Romeo Corpuz join hundreds of other farmers who face trumped-up criminal charges filed by TADECO and the Tarlac PNP to justify illegal arrests and to prop up the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ landgrab spree in Hacienda Luisita. Hernandez and Lugay were subsequently released on March 31, after the local prosecutor junked the physical assault charges brought against them by TADECO security guards. Corpuz, however, remains confined at the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart failure triggered by the unlawful arrest. Corpuz also sustained fractures on his left hand.

Residents of Block 6, Barangay Cutcut are now under threat of demolition and eviction from their homelots. TADECO personnel reportedly threatened residents that they must vacate their homes or face violent reprisal. TADECO filed unlawful detainer or ejectment charges against 81 farmers in Cutcut. The Notice of Coverage issued by the DAR on the hundreds of hectares of land in barangays Balete and Cutcut is just a scrap of paper. It does not prevent landlords with the aid of private and government security forces from illegally evicting farm workers who have been tilling the lands since 2005.

The escalating violence in Hacienda Luisita today proves once more the monumental failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. ##
 

           
     

Hacienda Luisita farmers: Denied of their land, denied of their source of life
Posted on April 28, 2014
Report by Bulatlat.com

Two years after the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker-beneficiaries, the Cojuangco-Aquinos, with the help of the Department of Agrarian Reform, have been doing everything to maintain their stranglehold on Luisita, and to provent farmers from taking control of their own land.

Click link below to view video dccumentary:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkhdwLvQ09o


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Why are agrarian reform officials proud of arresting Luisita farmers?

Posted on April 11, 2014
REFERENCE: Florida “Pong” Sibayan, acting- Chairperson, AMBALA, 09293201477

Tstatementhe Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had a media field day by gloating with utmost pride, not only over its sham accomplishments in Hacienda Luisita, but also with the arrest of five (5) members of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) for allegedly obstructing the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the controversial sugar estate.

With this most recent development, the DAR has just confirmed its connivance with the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan led by BS Aquino in fomenting violence against Hacienda Luisita farm workers.

A recent fact-finding mission led by Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap and several peasant and human rights groups revealed that farmers George Gatus, Leoncio Suarez, Alvin Gratil, Jaime Quiambao and Gerry Catalan were nabbed without commiting any crime.

As members of AMBALA, the main petitioner favored by the landmark Supreme Court decision for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, the complaint lodged against them – violation of the implementation of RA 6657 or CARP – is absurd and ridiculous.

Around noon on April 3, five members of AMBALA tried to approach several persons loitering in a farmlot in Barangay Mapalacsiao to simply ask what these strangers were doing. Before the farmers could even approach them, these persons ran away.

After a few moments, while the farmers were already resting in a farmhut, they were rounded up with no less than the Acting Chief of Police of Tarlac City, Police Supt. Felix Bervo commanding around twenty policemen plus a SWAT team armed with high-powered rifles.

The five farmers were not informed of the reason for their arrest and were directly brought to Camp Macabulos, the Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial headquarters in Tarlac City, instead of the nearest police precinct located within Barangay Mapalacsiao.

Upon hearing of this most recent arrest of farmworkers, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) of which AMBALA is associated, reached the DAR’s Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) Ileona Pangilinan via phone, to report the incident which possibly involved DAR personnel.

UMA Secretary General Ranmil Echanis sought Pangilinan’s intervention for the immediate release of the farmworkers. PARO Pangilinan promised to send their legal affairs officer to possibly assist in the release of the said farmers.

After a few hours, UMA and AMBALA learned that it would be impossible for the DAR to “assist” in the release because the DAR itself caused the arrest. A certain Francis Figueroa, an engineer hired by the FF Cruz firm and DAR, acted as complainant to justify the farmers’ unlawful arrest.

The absurd charge is the most recent in a spate of “harassment suits” filed against hundreds of farmers and their supporters, either by representatives of the Cojuangco firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) or the Tarlac PNP.

Personnel hired by the DAR were previously involved in violence against farmworkers. Faustino Corpuz, Sr, a thug employed by a surveyor of DAR, was involved in two separate violent assaults against members of AMBALA. On January 22, he together with another hired hand, Nixon Notarte suddenly attacked a senior citizen, AMBALA member Manuel Gomez with a large metal digger and a crowbar seriously wounding the latter.

The second incident involving Corpuz was when he hit namesake AMBALA leader Rudy Corpuz with a hammer in the head on March 24, just after a dialogue with PARO Pangilinan in Tarlac City a few hours earlier. A more serious incident happened on March 28, when four (4) AMBALA leaders and members in Cutcut suffered hammer blows from TADECO hired thugs.

TADECO and the DAR therefore hired the same thug, Faustino Corpuz, Sr., for menial labor which also involved harassment and violence against dissenting farmers.

Violent eviction, burning of huts and bulldozing of crops ordered by the Cojuangco-Aquino family could have been prevented had the DAR only acted on AMBALA’s motion to issue out a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against TADECO. All that DAR did was issue a useless “show cause” order against TADECO. DAR officials admitted it cannot impose the CDO for the simple reason that TADECO refused to accept their “show cause” order.

DAR officials have been consistently biased against Luisita farm workers. Their most recent media pronouncements prove that the DAR is only interested in making the public believe the brazen lie that it has finally accomplished land reform in Hacienda Luisita.

The landlord-sponsored CARP and its extension CARPER, has always been a farce that should be exposed and opposed. Luisita farmers continue to fight for social justice through various means including the ‘bungkalan’ land cultivation initiative and their ardent support for Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) in Congress. ###

 

     


Remembering the Disappeared:
Luisita Youth Leader Ronaldo Intal
Posted on April 19, 2014

Ronaldo’s partner, Sydney Ramos points to the palay they were not allowed to harvest in the morning of November 15, 2013, barely weeks after the death of her father Melchor and AMBALA leader Dennis dela Cruz. The area where their ricefields used to be was bulldozed in December and is now fenced (ABOVE). Photos by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com and IBON Foundation.

The 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre sent twenty-four year-old Ronaldo Intal of Barangay Asturias manning the picketlines night and day with his partner Sydney Ramos and other activists of SAKDAL or Samahan ng mga Kabataang Demokratiko sa Asyenda Luisita (Association of Democratic Youth in Hacienda Luisita), the youth arm of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita or AMBALA.

Ronaldo also became a leader of the Luisita chapter of Anak ng Bayan (Sons and Daughters of the People), the precursor of the present-day Kabataan Partylist.

In 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) ruled that land distribution must be implemented in Hacienda Luisita. Ronaldo then became active in AMBALA’s bungkalan campaign, working and helping his father-in-law Melchor Ramos cultivate a farmlot measuring about half a hectare in Barangay Balete.

Ronaldo was last seen by his relatives on April 3, 2006. He was making charcoal near the Ramos’s farmhut when he was nabbed by government soldiers around noon that same day. Witnesses said that the soldiers belonged to the 70th Infantry Battalion, which was under the 7th Infantry Division then commanded by Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr.

Sydney was four months pregnant when Ronaldo was forcibly disappeared.

Sydney believes that Ronaldo had been under surveillance. Witnesses said Ronaldo was brought to the Aqua Farm, a former fish breeding station between Barangays Balete and Cutcut. The Aqua Farm was also used as headquarters of the 70th IB, 7th ID. Sydney and Ronaldo’s family looked for him there but soldiers at the Aqua Farm denied taking him into custody. They also searched in hospitals and funeral homes but they failed to find Ronaldo.

His relatives have reason to believe that Ronaldo may have been under the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM). His father, Gonzalo, said that his family sought the assistance of then Tarlac City Vice-Mayor Teresita Cabal who informed them that his son was being held by NOLCOM personnel and may be released once Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan gave the go-signal. The elder Intal quoted Cabal as saying that “Gen. Palparan will not release him yet because his appointment is not yet over.”

The 2012 landmark Supreme Court ruling favored AMBALA and the thousands of oppressed farmworkers. Justice, however, has become even more elusive to Luisita’s tillers under a heartless hacendero president.

Sydney’s father Melchor succumbed to a lingering illness late October last year, around a week after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) began distributing photocopies of land reform certificates to farmworker-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita. The Ramoses refused to join the DAR’s distribution modus because they were hoping that government would finally grant them rights to their small farmlot in Balete and not in a village like Mabilog or Pando 10-15 kilometers away, where most Balete farmworkers were allocated lots via a lottery drum (tambiolo) raffle.

Sydney’s old man died nursing severe heartbreak over renewed harassment and threats of eviction by the Cojuangcos’ armed thugs. They were also charged with ejectment along with hundreds of other farmers by representatives of Tarlac Development Corporation or TADECO, the original Cojuangco-Aquino firm that acquired Hacienda Luisita from Spanish owners.

Another AMBALA leader, Dennis dela Cruz of Barangay Lourdes, came by to pay his last respects to his bungkalan-partner Melchor, only to be found dead the next day, November 1, in the same farmlot where Ronaldo was disappeared several years before. Authorities ruled that his death was a freak accident, but locals believe dela Cruz was murdered by Cojuangco thugs. Sydney and his widowed mother would face more harassment. They had to plead with armed thugs before they could harvest their palay crops, only days after the deaths of their loved ones.

Today, a security outpost stands where their palay crops once thrived. Last December, their ricefield and those of other Balete farmers, together totalling more than 350 hectares, were literally bulldozed by TADECO armed men and have now been reduced into a dusty expanse. With these lands fenced off with concrete and barbed wires by TADECO, and another 500 hectares secured by the Cojuangco’s Luisita Realty Corp. and its business partner RCBC, Ronaldo and Sydney’s once green and very open Balete is now hauntingly grey, resembling less a farming village than a walled garrison.

Eight years after Ronaldo’s disappearance, Sydney still hopes that their son, Padem Rafael would still see his father. Ronaldo may never be resurfaced. Those he left behind can only remember that Ronaldo fought hard so that they may see justice cherished by future generations of sons and daughters of Luisita. ###

 

           
     
BAYAN-Gitnang Luzon to Aquino:
Shame on you for brazen attacks against Hacienda Luisita farmworkers!
     
     

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Bayan-GL to Aquino: Shame on you for brazen attacks against Hacienda Luisita farmworkers!
 

Posted on April 10, 2014

ANGELES CITY, APRIL 9 — Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luson (Central Luzon) expressed the above statement to President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino as the Cojuangco-Aquinos wage a frenzy of attacks against farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita. Since the decision of the Supreme Court in April 2012 ordering the distribution of the more than four thousand-hectare sugar estate, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has engaged in different schemes to circumvent the SC decision. Among these are the “tambiolo” or raffle system of land distribution to farmworker-beneficiaries last year facilitated by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the fencing of farmlands in Barangay Balete, Cutcut and Mapalacsiao claimed by Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) and subsequently filing ejectment cases against farmworkers among others.

Since the last quarter of 2013 up to the present, the Cojuangco-Aquino family has heightened its use of violence against Luisita farmworkers and their supporters thru the family-owned Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC), TADECO and Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and Tarlac Development Corporation.

Among these violent incidents are the arrest of 11 individuals of a National Fact Finding Team including Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap by the Provincial and City Philippine National Police (PNP); the bulldozing of sizable hectares of farmlands last Christmas season and the illegal arrests of eight farmworkers defending their land, the demolition of AMBALA’s “kubol” (hut) in Balete and Cutcut; along with the destruction and arson of farmhuts of AMBALA leaders and members; the series of arbitrary arrest and detention, and trumped-up charges against AMBALA leaders, members and even supporters the latest of which are the illegal arrests of AMBALA leader Florida Sibayan and Julius Loveland last March 19, and AMBALA members George Gatus, Gerry Catalan, Jaime Quiambao, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez last April 3; while City Councilor Emy Ladera-Facunla, sister of extra-judicial killing victim Councilor Abel Ladera was charged with trespassing and coercion by TADECO.

The assault, physical injuries, warrantless raids and other forms of threat, harassments and intimidation are done by TADECO security guards and thugs with the connivance of the PNP Tarlac Provincial and City Command under Provincial Director Alex Sintin & Tarlac City Chief Bayani Razalan, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines particularly the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Batallion which constructed its headquarters at Barangay (village) Balete.

The latest of these unabashed attacks is the “Martilyo-gang” type of assault last March 28 by TADECO security personnel led by Mauro dela Cruz, Jovito Suelen and Willy Cariaga victimizing Jerry Mesa who suffered head injuries and three others in Barangay Cutcut II while the police were just at a distance in full view of the incident. Ironically, when the farmworkers defended themselves the police then arrested Marcelino Lugay, Pia Hernandez while Fernan Corpuz, was taken under hospital arrest at the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart problems.
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BAYAN-Central Luzon staged an indignation rally at Angeles City’s Plaza Miranda over the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ unhampered attacks against Luisita farmworkers; threat of demolition against urban poor communities along Abacan River in Angeles City; and against Charter Change (April 9, 2014)


“These brazen attacks by the Cojuangco-Aquino and the state security forces of the Government of the Philippines against Luisita farmworkers and supporters all point-out to President BS Aquino, a member of the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the Commander in Chief of the state security forces”, stated Roman Polintan, Bayan-Gitnang Luson Chair.

“He cannot wash his hands of the continuing violence and injustice committed against Luisita farmworkers, in fact the continuance or end of violence in Luisita is at his disposal”, the Bayan-GL Chair added.

“Hacienda Luisita is a picture of how alive feudalism in the Philippines is, with BS Aquino as the chief feudal lord, with all the powers of bureaucracy and military at his command”, stated the Bayan-GL Chair.

The Bayan-GL Chair vows to heighten support for the Luisita farmworkers and for genuine agrarian reform in the country through series of campaigns ang mass actions by its provincial chapters and allied sectoral organizations in Central Luzon.

“Bayan-Gitnang Luson, its provincial chapters and allied sectoral organizations in Central Luzon has withstand the fascist attacks of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya and the current Oplan Bayanihan of BS Aquino and is in a position to wage different people’s struggles in Central Luzon — to fight feudalism that Hacienda Luisita epitomizes, bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism, alongside the Filipino people”, the Bayan-GL leader ended. ###
 

           
     
Fact-finding mission confirms “Martilyo Gang”-type attacks
against Luisita farmers, seeks international support
     
     

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Fact-finding mission confirms “Martilyo Gang”-type attacks against Luisita farmers, seeks international support
Posted on April 6, 2014

TARLAC CITY, APRIL 5 — Agrarian reform advocates led by the Luisita Watch network launched a national fact-finding mission (FFM) in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita today to document growing rights violations against land reform beneficiaries.

A TADECO security outpost stands near the place of incident of the March 28 “Martilyo Gang”-type attack against farmers in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita. Concrete posts, fences and checkpoints set up by TADECO bar farmers from tending to their crops.

The fact finding mission led by Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis party list, and leaders of various peasant and human rights organizations and alternative media groups, will seek international support against escalating terror and impunity in Hacienda Luisita. The mission also brought relief aid courtesy of Caritas Manila to families and individual victims of rights abuses and displacement.

The organized ranks of Luisita farmers led by the AMBALA alliance and its land cultivation initiative called “bungkalan” have been targets of relentless attacks by the Cojuangco-Aquino family since the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) commenced land distribution activities in Hacienda Luisita.

TADECO concrete posts detailed in front of paramilitary CAFGU detachment in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita

Most recent rights violations include “Martilyo Gang-”type attacks, arbitrary arrests, and ‘legal’ harassment. Eviction of farmers, bulldozing of crops and dismantling of homes and farmhuts started by Cojuangco firm TADECO late last year became more aggressive as vast farmlands are fenced with barbed wires and concrete. Other Cojuangco-Aquino entities such as the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) sugar mill and the Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) are also involved in the violent eviction of farmers.

Peasant and human rights organizations such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) and KARAPATAN observed that reported violations against Luisita farmers are practically state-sponsored.

A discarded tarpaulin streamer of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform’s notice of land reform coverage for agricultural land in Barangays Balete and Cutcut hangs on a bamboo pole at a checkpoint manned by TADECO security personnel.

Government institutions such as the DAR and local courts are involved in violations. State forces like the Tarlac PNP force, SWAT teams and regular and paramilitary personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are utilized as “private armies” to impose landlord authority in Hacienda Luisita. The Department of Justice (DOJ), meanwhile, has been dragging its feet on farmers’ urgent pleas. President BS Aquino, a fifth-generation scion of the Cojuangco clan, has been mum on Luisita.

The mission focused on recent incidents in Barangay Cutcut where terror was instituted by thugs and security guards hired by TADECO, with the support of local police and army personnel. The attack, according to the farmers, involved not only mauling but planned murder attempts of particular AMBALA leaders allegedly ordered by the Cojuangco family.

Three peasants were illegally arrested by the police on March 28 namely Marcelino Lugay, Ofelia “Pia” Hernandez, and Romeo “Fernan” Corpuz. All three were injured by hammer blows along with other farmers, while Corpuz was rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart problems. Corpuz also suffered fractures on his left hand and was placed under hospital arrest. The three were released on March 31. Charges of physical injury were lodged against them by their very attackers.

TADECO thugs with the help of police and military forces also dismantled and ransacked AMBALA’s Barangay Cutcut headquarters and set up a checkpoint near the area to prevent tillers from entering the farmlands.

Only bamboo posts left of AMBALA’s headquarters after TADECO thugs dismantled and ransacked the said farmhut in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita.

The FFM also interviewed AMBALA members George Gatus, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez, who with two other farmers Gerry Catalan and Jaime Quiambao were illegally arrested April 3 in Barangay Mapalacsiao by Tarlac police led by Acting Tarlac Chief of Police PSI Felix Bervo. To justify the arrest, an employee of the DAR-hired survey firm FF Cruz Co. lodged a complaint of coercion and violation of the implementation of the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. The farmers were released the following day.

Human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita are monitored by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and recently documented by international artist and activist Monique Wilson’s New Voice Company. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) also issued an appeal letter circulated globally regarding a Luisita peasant leader, Rudy Corpuz of AMBALA, who was hurt defending farmlands in a confrontation with thugs employed by TADECO.
 



 

Luisita Watch will release a full-report on this fact-finding mission and the status of implementation of land reform in Hacienda Luisita before April 24 — or two years after the historic Supreme Court decision to implement land distribution in this dispute-ridden sugar estate.

REFERENCE: Gi Estrada
CONTACT NO.: 09166114181









Romeo “Apong Fernan” Corpuz

A TADECO security outpost stands near the place of incident of the March 28 “Martilyo Gang”-type attack against farmers in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita. Concrete posts, fences and checkpoints set up by TADECO bar farmers from tending to their crops.

TADECO concrete posts detailed in front of paramilitary CAFGU detachment in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita

A discarded tarpaulin streamer of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform’s notice of land reform coverage for agricultural land in Barangays Balete and Cutcut hangs on a bamboo pole at a checkpoint manned by TADECO security personnel.

Only bamboo posts left of AMBALA’s headquarters after TADECO thugs dismantled and ransacked the said farmhut in Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita.

           
     
     
           


Agrarian Reform Chief instigated latest attack vs Luisita farmers
Posted on April 2, 2014

statementBy all indications, it was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary himself, Virgilio de los Reyes, who instigated the latest violent attack against Hacienda Luisita farm workers. On March 28, thugs hired by Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) attacked Barangay Cutcut farmers with hammers and shovels. The brutal attack was supported by soldiers, a fully-armed SWAT team and the Tarlac police who arrested three farmers, ransacked and burned the headquarters of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and conducted warrantless raids in the community.

Secretary delos Reyes’ consistent defense of landlord interests in Hacienda Luisita has emboldened hirelings of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to assault defiant Luisita farmers. The DAR and the various other involved state authorities should be held accountable for criminal acts against farmworker-beneficiaries.

A day before the attack, delos Reyes was quoted in a media interview as saying that disputed lands in Barangays Cutcut and Balete are still property of TADECO and have not yet been issued any Notice of land reform Coverage (NOC) by his office. He further stated that bulldozing of lands and putting up of concrete walls by TADECO cannot be considered as illegal acts of land conversion.

DARpusong bato

Delos Reyes’s outrageous and incredulous statements expose not only his incompetence and indifference but, more seriously, his criminal culpability for the countless violations against the rights and livelihood of Luisita farmers. Contrary to Delos Reyes’s irresponsible claims, so-called “TADECO areas” in Barangays Cutcut & Balete with a total of 358 hectares have already been issued NOCs by the DAR. The notices were published by The Philippine Star on December 17, 2013. TADECO started bulldozing crops in Barangay Balete on that same day.

As early as December 26, 2013, AMBALA filed a Cease and Desist (CDO) petition with DAR to stop TADECO eviction and bulldozing activities. To follow up on this urgent petition, AMBALA leaders engaged DAR officials in personal dialogues on January 21 in Quezon City, and March 24 in Tarlac City. But until now, the DAR has yet to act on the CDO petition. By mimicking President BS Aquino’s “Noynoying” expertise – doing absolutely nothing – the DAR is practically allowing TADECO to trample upon farmers’ rights with impunity. On February 8, President BS Aquino’s birthday, TADECO proceeded to burn farmers’ huts in Barangay Balete.

AMBALA asserts that around a thousand hectares of prime lands were cunningly excluded by the DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos from land distribution, but is covered by the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to distribute all agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers. In Barangay Mapalacsiao and in other areas like Central, Lourdes, and Parang, 214 hectares are fenced off and bulldozed by another Cojuangco entity, the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac, where Presidential sister Kris Aquino sits as board member.

Secretary de los Reyes acts like the spokesperson of the Cojuangco-Aquino family by saying that these agricultural lands are supposedly classified as residential. But the Cojuangco-Aquino family never applied for land reform exemptions with the DAR, other than a 500-hectare area now fenced by RCBC and Luisita Realty. Even this 500-hectare area is subject to an earlier AMBALA petition for the revocation of the 1995 conversion order issued by the DAR. After almost two decades, the said area did not undergo any kind of development and remains agricultural.

Meanwhile, arrested farmers Ofelia Hernandez, Marcelino Lugay, and Romeo Corpuz join hundreds of other farmers who face trumped-up criminal charges filed by TADECO and the Tarlac PNP to justify illegal arrests and to prop up the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ landgrab spree in Hacienda Luisita. Hernandez and Lugay were subsequently released on March 31, after the local prosecutor junked the physical assault charges brought against them by TADECO security guards. Corpuz, however, remains confined at the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart failure triggered by the unlawful arrest. Corpuz also sustained fractures on his left hand.

Residents of Block 6, Barangay Cutcut are now under threat of demolition and eviction from their homelots. TADECO personnel reportedly threatened residents that they must vacate their homes or face violent reprisal. TADECO filed unlawful detainer or ejectment charges against 81 farmers in Cutcut. The Notice of Coverage issued by the DAR on the hundreds of hectares of land in barangays Balete and Cutcut is just a scrap of paper. It does not prevent landlords with the aid of private and government security forces from illegally evicting farm workers who have been tilling the lands since 2005.


The escalating violence in Hacienda Luisita today proves once more the monumental failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. ##

AMBALA-UMA, April 2, 2014
REFERENCE: Gi Estrada, 09166114181
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Agrarian Reform Dep’t involved in most recent arrest of Luisita farmers

Posted on April 4, 2014

For the nth time, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) has condemned the unabated serial assault of the Cojuangco-Aquinos against Hacienda Luisita farmers, the recent incident of which took place yesterday afternoon in Barangay Mapalacsiao involving the arbitrary arrest by the Tarlac PNP of five farmers. The arrest came barely a week after armed goons of the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco), with the aid of a PNP SWAT contingent and AFP personnel, violently attacked the headquarters of AMBALA in Brgy. Cutcut which left tens of farmers severely injured.
 

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Unlike previous incidents, this one, according to AMBALA, had the direct, active participation of the Department of Agrarian Reform, as it was a certain Tristy Figueroa, a representative of the DAR survey firm partner, FF Cruz, who ordered the PNP to arrest George Gatus, Gerry Catalan, Jaime Quiambao, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez. The Mapalacsiao farmers are being charged with coercion and violation of the implementation of the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. They were detained for 20 hours at Camp Macabulos, Tarlac.

“The DAR’s involvement in this latest case of ‘legal’ harassment and intimidation pretty much exposes the fact that the DAR has all along been aiding and abetting the Cojuangco-Aquinos in their relentless and cruel haciendero ways to retain control of Hacienda Luisita,” said AMBALA chairperson, Florida “Ka Pong” Sibayan.

According to AMBALA, through Tadeco, the Central Azucarera de Tarlac and several other corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, the Presidential family has, since July of last year, been in an all-out campaign to evict hundreds of farm worker families from at least a thousand hectares of agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita. Several hundreds of hectares have already been fenced off by the Cojuangco-Aquinos in the villages of Balete, Lourdes, Cutcut, Parang, Central and Mapalacsiao. These lands, Sibayan said, have been excluded from the total area of distributable Luisita lands “through the cunning machinations of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and with the complicity of the (DAR).”

The lands meanwhile which have been supposedly included in the land distribution process, according to AMBALA, have not yet been physically awarded to the so-called Luisita farm worker beneficiaries, despite bold statements by the DAR that land distribution has already been completed. These lands are instead being usurped and controlled by sugar cane production financiers who are said to be mere pawns themselves of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, through its secretary general, Ranmil Echanis, said that “the fact that the Luisita farmers, whose only desire is to see that land reform is truly implemented, are now being charged of violating the CARP law, tells us just how bogus and violently anti-peasant this law really is.”

Various militant peasant organizations led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas have been calling for a stronger, genuinely pro-peasant and pro-social justice land reform law and program to replace CARP which they believe has long been a sham and monumental failure.

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Arbitrary arrests in Hacienda Luisita continue, 5 more farmers nabbed
Posted on April 3, 2014

REFERENCE: FACT SHEET ICONRanmil Echanis, Deputy Sec-Gen, UMA
Tel. (02) 799-2009

VIOLATION: ILLEGAL ARREST & DETENTION
Date of Incident: APRIL, 3, 2014, AROUND 12 NOON
Place of Incident: BARANGAY, MAPALACSIAO, HACIENDA LUISITA, TARLAC CITY

VICTIMS:
George Gatus
Gerry Catalan
Jaime Quiambao
Alvin Gratil
Leoncio Suarez

ALLEGED PERPETRATORS:

Tarlac PNP led by SPO3 DELA CRUZ of Mapalacsiao Police Community Precinct and Police superintendent FELIX BERVO;
Cojuangco-Aquino through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and FF Cruz firm

Farmer Jaime Quiambao and his four companions George Gatus, Gerry Catalan, Alvin Gratil and Leoncio Suarez were resting near their farm lots in Mapalacsiao village when they saw more or less ten men placing markers on the land. Farmers tried to approach them to know what the men were doing on the farm lots. Quiambao said that when they approached two of the men, they ran away. All five farmers belong to AMBALA, the farmworkers’ alliance fighting for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.

A few minutes after, policemen arrived in two mobile vehicles and nabbed the five farmers. Police superintendent Felix Bervo reportedly ordered the arrest. AMBALA members also mentioned SPO3 dela Cruz, commander of the community police precinct in Mapalacsiao as one of those who led the arrest. The five farmers were taken to Camp Macabulos, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Headquarters in Tarlac City. Police did not inform the farmers the reason for their arrest.

At around 3:30 p.m, Ranmil Echanis, deputy secretary-general of the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma), called up Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) chief Ileona Pangilinan to report the arbitrary arrest possibly involving DAR personnel. Pangilinan said she would send someone from their legal affairs to go to Camp Macabulos to verify the report and help release the farmers if possible.

Past 4 pm, the farmers were brought to the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court for inquest proceedings. UMA was then informed that it was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) itself which filed charges against the farmers. A certain Tristy Figueroa of the FF Cruz Co, Inc., a firm hired by the DAR to place the markers on Hacienda Luisita land, filed the complaint against them. Farmers were reportedly charged with violation of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

Quiambao reportedly asked Figueroa if she saw them destroying DAR markers (muhon) as alleged by their men. Figueroa said she did not. Then Quiambao asked her why she is suing the farmers for something that they did not commit, but Figueroa did not say a word. The farmers refused to sign any document.

Farmers said that no one from the PARO visited them as of 6 pm.

AMBALA earlier urged the Supreme Court to cite the DAR in contempt for aiding the Cojuangco-Aquino family retain control of Hacienda Luisita. #
 

           
     
 
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Farmers injured, nabbed, terrorized by state forces
in latest P-Noy kin landgrab rampage in Hacienda Luisita 
     
           

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Farmers injured, nabbed, terrorized by state forces in latest P-Noy kin landgrab rampage in Hacienda Luisita
Posted on March 28, 2014

FACT SHEET ICONINCIDENTS IN BARANGAY CUTCUT, HACIENDA LUISITA

Reference: Renato Mendoza, AMBALA Barangay Cutcut 0912-330-9329

Donations for the farmers’ legal and medical expenses are most welcome. Please contact AMBALA at 09991683377 or Luisita Watch at (02) 799 2009.

I. Assault, Physical Injuries

• March 24, 2014
1. Victim: RUDY CORPUZ, 59, AMBALA leader
Alleged perpetrator: FAUSTINO CORPUZ (not related), TADECO hired personnel

• March 28, 2014
2. Victim(s): JERRY MESA, 45, and other farmers / members of AMBALA
Alleged perpetrators: TADECO security personnel led by MAURO DELA CRUZ, JOVITO SUELEN nad a certain PALOMAR

II. Assault, Physical Injuries with Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
Victims: MARCELINO LUGAY, PIA HERNANDEZ, FERNAN CORPUZ, farmers and AMBALA members
Alleged perpertrators: TADECO personnel, PNP-SWAT Tarlac

III. Destruction of Property / Looting
Dismantling of farmhut serving as organization headquarters, etc.
Victims: AMBALA Barangay Cutcut chapter and individual members
Alleged perpetrators: TADECO security men with PNP-SWAT Tarlac and military personnel from 3rd Mechanized Battalion as accomplices

IV. Warantless Raids, Harassment
Victims: Residents of Barangay Cutcut
Alleged perpetrators: PNP-SWAT Tarlac / 3rd Mech Bn personnel

Morning of March 24, 2014, about a hundred members of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) representing different barangays (villages), trooped to the provincial office (PARO) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to follow up on their pending urgent petition for the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against the violent eviction of farmers by Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO).

AMBALA filed the petition before the DAR Region III Office in Pampanga on December 26, 2013, the only working day after TADECO ordered the bulldozing of crops, mauling and illegal arrest of farmers within a 258-hectare TADECO-claimed area in Barangay Balete during the Christmas season. The area is now secured by concrete fences, barbed wires, private security personnel led by the Great Star agency and a company headquarters of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Before the violent attacks, TADECO also filed unlawful detainer (ejectment) charges against 81 farmers in Barangay Cutcut and 26 farmers in Barangay Balete. These farmer-families are long-time residents and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita, some tilling the land even before the Cojuangco-Aquinos took over the sugar plantation in 1957. Farmers have been cultivating hundreds of hectares of land for foodcrops since 2005 via the bungkalan (tillage) campaign of AMBALA. The ejectment charges against the farmers have been recently DISMISSED by local courts.

Instead of acting on the CDO petition, local DAR officials enjoined residents of Barangays Cutcut and Balete to “apply as agrarian reform beneficiaries” as the DAR vowed to distribute some 360 hectares of the contested property to bonafide residents and tillers. The DAR issued a Notice of Land Reform Coverage (NOC) for the TADECO areas, published by the Philippine Star on December 17, 2013.

AMBALA chose to protest DAR’s inaction on the first day of its application process for Cutcut residents on March 24. Balete residents, meanwhile, were advised to start applying for lot allocations on April 1.

During the March 24 picket-dialogue, PARO Chief Ileona Pangilinan assured AMBALA Chairperson Florida “Pong” Sibayan that the DAR will look after the interests of so-called “farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs)” but said that her office cannot do anything to stop the aggressive steps of TADECO against Hacienda Luisita farmers.

Pangilinan claimed that she was not aware that Sibayan was just recently released from police custody. Sibayan is respondent to a number of “harrasment suits” directly filed by TADECO and the local police in Tarlac, meant to silence farmers’ dissent in Hacienda Luisita. Dozens of other farmers and their supporters also face harassment suits.

A few hours after the dialogue, violence erupted in Barangay Cutcut. Local AMBALA leader Rudy Corpuz, 59, sustained six stitches due to head injuries after an assault by a certain Faustino Corpuz (not related to Rudy), one of the men hired by TADECO to fence the agricultural lots in Cutcut. AMBALA members tried to reason with the contract workers that the area is subject to land reform coverage and must not be fenced by the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Thugs hired by TADECO turned violent instead and attacked AMBALA leaders.

Two days after on March 26, residents noticed the build-up of TADECO security personnel, along with the unusual deployment of police forces in Barangay Cutcut. Fifteen policemen in two official vehicles and an 8-man Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team armed with high-powered rifles were deployed to assist TADECO guards in fencing agricultural lands. Ten soldiers from the 3rd Mechanized Battalion were also reported spotted.

On March 27, police officers identified as S/INSP. GALICIA and SPO3 GARCIA, bluntly told AMBALA leaders to let TADECO personnel “peacefully do their job” of fencing off agricultural land from farmers. Farmers who trooped to the scene told the police that there is a standing agreement to maintain “status quo” forged before local village officials last January, between TADECO security and Cutcut farmers represented by AMBALA. Other police personnel on the scene were identified as SPO3 BALOT, SPO1 ABELLA & PO2 BERNARDO.                 
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P/Insp GALICIA and SPO3 GARCIA (with cigarette) of the Tarlac PNP persuade farmers to let TADECO fence off farmlands in Barangay Cutcut. PHOTO BY AMBALA.

TADECO security personnel JOVITO SUELEN (in black) tells farmers before the assault ” We’re just following orders from our superiors.”


On March 28, about 2 pm, around 20 TADECO security personnel led by MAURO DELA CRUZ, JOVITO SUELEN and a certain PALOMAR attacked farmers with hammers and shovels. Police and soldiers were at the place of incident while the farmers were being beaten up.

Farmer Jerry Mesa, 45, who was hit by a hammer on his head, was rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital for treatment. Other farmers suffered various injuries.

Instead of intervening to stop TADECO men who instigated the attack, police started arbitrarily arresting farmers. Those nabbed by police were identified as Marcelino Lugay, Pia Hernandez, and Fernan Corpuz. Lugay and Hernandez were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Tarlac City, while Corpuz, brother of Rudy, was also rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart problems. Corpuz is currently confined at the hospital with police escorts.

TADECO security guards then proceeded to dismantle AMBALA’s “kubol” or farmhut serving as local headquarters in Barangay Cutcut. Farmers have yet to report the extent of destruction and looting of the organization’s belongings, tools, and crops. Police and soldiers served as “security” while TADECO guards demolished AMBALA’s farmhut.

Police and soldiers terrorized the entire community as they roamed around Barangay Cutcut hunting down AMBALA leaders. They conducted warantless raids and randomly confiscated cellular phones of residents.

TADECO personnel now continue to set up fences to bar farmers from tending to their crops. AMBALA asserts that around a thousand hectares of prime lands including contested TADECO property were cunningly excluded by the DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos from land distribution, but is covered by the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to distribute all agricultural land in Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers. ##

Download: Cutcut HRV Fact Sheet

 

           
     
AMBALA leader hurt in new clash between Luisita farmers, TADECO
     
     

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AMBALA leader hurt in new clash between Luisita farmers, TADECO
Posted on March 25, 2014

Tension between hirelings of CojURGENT ALERTuangco firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) and farmers sparked anew, only hours after a dialogue between local agrarian reform officials and Hacienda Luisita farmworkers represented by the AMBALA in Tarlac City yesterday.

Rudy Corpuz, 59, AMBALA leader from Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita suffered head injuries after an attack by a certain Faustino Corpuz (not related to Rudy), a worker contracted by TADECO to set up markers on disputed property. Local AMBALA members in Cutcut have been standing vigil over a hundred hectares of agricultural land planted with palay and vegetables due to threats of bulldozing and fencing by TADECO.


Rudy Corpuz during the 9th year commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita massacre infront of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Gate 1, November 16, 2013.

TADECO filed ejectment charges against 81 Cutcut farmers who have been planting foodcrops in the said area since 2005. The charges were recently dismissed by local courts. The said property is also covered by a notice of land reform coverage (NOC) dated December 17, 2013 issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Earlier yesterday, farmers led by AMBALA Chairperson Florida “Pong” Sibayan confronted local DAR officilas headed by Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) Chief Ileona Pangilinan, for failing to act on AMBALA’s urgent cease and desist petition against TADECO filed since December.

Pangilinan reportedly told the farmers that “the DAR is on their side,” but Sibayan dared officials to put their words into action. “The NOC that the DAR issued for TADECO property is useless if they cannot even issue a cease and desist order to stop the Cojuangco-Aquino family from fencing off these lands from farmers.”

Sibayan’s hut and crops were among those destroyed by Cojuangco-hired thugs in another village, Barangay Balete last February 8, President Aquino’s birthday. Twelve farmers including Sibayan’s husband Willy, filed new complaints of malicious mischief, grave coercion, illegal detention before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last Thursday, March 20. Barangay Balete is now literally surrounded by concrete fences on all directions except its side facing the Luisita Access Road.

“The DAR should stop calling us farmworkers’ ‘beneficiaries.’ Until now, Hacienda Luisita is controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquino family,” said Sibayan. “Puro perwisyo at walang benepisyo kaming nakukuha mula sa gobyerno at sa mangangamkam na pamilya ng asenderong pangulo,” she added.

Sibayan was recently released from police custody after posting bail for a farbricated criminal charge filed by a TADECO security guard. Dozens of farmers and their supporters face trumped-up criminal charges – “harassment suits” to suppress farmers’dissent – filed by local police and TADECO. Sibayan lamented that DAR officials feigned ignorance of escalating tension in Hacienda Luisita and only offered empty promises to farmworkers.

The company headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Mechanized Battalion is located inside the fenced TADECO area in Barangay Balete, where Cojuangco bulldozers are parked. Preceding TADECO’s move to set up markers on disputed land, soldiers conducted a medical mission in Barangay Cutcut. Another detachment of the paramilitary CAFGU was transferred from Barangay Lourdes to an area nearer Barangay Central and Mapalacsiao, where the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and TADECO have been bulldozing and fencing off some 214 hectares of agricultural land. Presidential sister Kris Aquino is a board member of the CAT.

“What are the benefits of land reform under a Cojuangco-Aquino president? All we have in Hacienda Luisita is sham land distribution, landgrabbing, deceit, and a climate of terror and impunity. Puro panloloko, pandarahas at pangangamkam, ” said Sibayan.

Reference: Florida Sibayan

     
     
     
           
     
   
     
     
     
     
     
 
     

2 years after landmark SC ruling,
Hacienda Luisita land distribution a monumental failure

 
     

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2 years after landmark SC ruling, Hacienda Luisita land distribution a monumental failure
Posted on April 22, 2014
 

Two years after the landmark Supreme Court decision to distribute Hacienda Luisita to farm workers, genuine land reform and justice remain elusive in this vast and historic estate.

During the past two years, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Malacañang have been working doubly hard, not for the expeditious delivery of agrarian justice, but in the crafting of one ploy after another to facilitate the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ latest circumvention of land distribution.

Luisita farm workers have undoubtedly been the focus of state efforts. Government has poured generous amount of resources and manpower into the DAR’s land distribution scheme which includes, among others, the construction of new military company headquarters right smack in disputed agricultural areas, the omnipresent deployment of regular army, paramiltary and SWAT units to complement the private security personnel and hired thugs of the Cojuangco-Aquinos who constantly sow fear among Luisita farmers and residents.

With this reign of terror and an elaborate swindle that targets farm workers and uses millions of pesos in public funds, the Aquino government has been expertly rubbing salt on the wounds of thousands of Luisita farmers who, for over five decades now of Cojuangco-Aquino feudal tyranny in the sugar estate, continue to be deprived of genuine land reform and justice.

Agrarian reform officials have been very consistent in hyping what they allege to be the DAR’s right-on-target achievements in Hacienda Luisita. The DAR’s loud pronouncements, however, have time and again betrayed the department’s utter duplicity, and its culpability for having completed nothing in Hacienda Luisita except for what has now become another classic example of sham land distribution.

The DAR’s direct hand in inflicting violence and injustice against farmworkers via the unlawful arrest and ensuing public threats of imprisonment against 5 members of farmworkers’ alliance AMBALA illustrates the extent to which the DAR could go in its long-running close collusion with the Presidential clan in the latter’s aggressive bid to dodge and sabotage land reform for the nth time and systematically reassert its big landlord interest.

The DAR makes a fool out of the public by stating that the problems with Luisita land distribution are now only about minor difficulties arising from the strictly technical challenge of placing concrete markers in the allocated farm lots or what is called “monumenting.” AMBALA meanwhile has, since July last year, already declared DAR’s land distribution in Hacienda Luisita as a concrete and monumental failure.

Again, farmworkers assert that the DAR has in fact committed blatant abuse of discretion in most, if not all the actual steps it has undertaken, leaving its supposed beneficiaries disenfranchised, violated and swindled. The failure of other government institutions such as the local police, local courts, the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court to immediately act and fairly address the farmworkers’urgent and legitimate grievances further perpetuates impunity.

From landmark SC decision to bogus DAR implementation

Here are dispositive portions of the Hacienda Luisita Supreme Court ruling and the current Luisita situation.

SUPREME COURT ORDERED the revocation of the 1989 Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme
 

The DAR is currently pushing a new pro-landlord system very much similar in essence to the SDO scheme, which had already been revoked by the Supreme Court and which Luisita farm workers had fought against for years in a bloody struggle.

The BLOCK-FARMING SCHEME, if implemented, will allow a “farm manager” to control 30-60 hectares of individually-titled farmlots. As in the SDO, the so-called farmer beneficiaries would have to place their lots as their share in a block. They would have to split profits, if any, among their co-farmers while slaving away as typical landless farm workers which they have already been for decades. In a block farm, farmers have practically no control over their lots and, in a basic sense, have already lost their right to till.

“Farm managers,” meanwhile, are usually the leaders of the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization or ARBO. These managers will also have access to so-called “support services” like credit and financial aid from public funds funnelled to the DAR, highly questionable amounts, in fact, given what have already been exposed in the pork barrel scam. In Hacienda Luisita, leaders of village-level ARBOs include known financier-dummies of the Cojuangcos, yellow agents and corrupted local leaders.

Block-farming and the ARBO would only reinforce the practice of coercing cash-strapped farmers to enter into illicit lease agreements with sugarcane production financiers, a modus very much designed to favor the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ relentless effort to ultimately retain control of vast tracts of land that have supposedly been already subjected to distribution. Presidential “Kabarilan”and Casino Queen Virgie Torres is but one of these financier-dummies doing business for the Cojuangcos.

Block-farming is particularly intended to provide the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) with the nearest steady supply of raw sugarcane. With only a nominal dismantling of Hacienda Luisita, and with the Cojuangco-Aquinos still very much able to impose control over land use and farm labor, the CAT can still maintain, to the detriment of small Luisita farmers, normal operations as the biggest buyer of sugarcane in Central Luzon.

HL howbig

SUPREME COURT ORDERED the distribution by the DAR of 4,335 hectares, including other tracts that it would find to be agricultural in use, to 6,296 FWBs. Each should supposedly receive no less than a 6,886 square meter agricultural lot.


After the FF Cruz survey, the DAR found only 4,099 hectares – more than 300 hectares chopped off from the original area found in the SC ruling– for distribution to 6,212 (instead of 6,296) DAR selected FWBs, each to receive a 6,600 sq. meter farmlot, or more than 200 square meters less than the SC-prescribed minimum. AMBALA also laments the underhanded insertion of unqualified names in the FWB masterlist, and the unexplained exclusion by the DAR of a number of bonafide farm workers such as the oldest farmworker families who lived in Luisita even before the Cojuangco take-over in 1958, and kin of victims of the 2004 massacre and subsequent killings.

An elaborate “land coverage swindle” is behind these glaring discrepancies. The original land area of Luisita is widely known to be 6, 453 hectares, but only 4,915were declared by the Cojuangcos to be agricultural in use when the SDO scheme was implemented in 1989. Of these thousands of hectares, only 500 hectares were legitimately approved by the DAR for land use conversion in 1996, thus the Supreme Court order to subtract this figure along with 80.5 hectares of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to come up with 4,335 hectares for land distribution.

The 500-hectare area now fenced by LRC and RCBC, however, is still a subject of a pending petition for revocation of conversion order as it remains undeveloped, idle and still fit for agricultural use almost two decades after the area was approved for conversion. The RCBC and the LRC, as other spin-off entities and corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquino family, were merely used to juggle profits while deliberately dodging land distribution.

It must not be forgotten that the SC further instructed the DAR to find and subject to land reform all other agricultural areas which the Cojuangco-Aquinos have failed to declare in the SDO. The DAR did issue a notice of land reform coverage for another 358 hectares of land in Barangays Balete and Cutcut in December 2013. But this notice, on the very same day that it was issued, did not stop the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) from bulldozing farmers’ ricefields and crops, burning down homes and farmhuts and fencing the whole area with concrete and barbed wires.

Cutcut Landgrab

AMBALA asserts that at least a thousand hectares of agricultural land must be subjected to land reform on top of the 4,099 hectares which the Cojuangco-Aquinos, through its collusion with the DAR, have made the public believe to be the only coverable Hacienda Luisita lands. Farmworkers say that these lands were purposely hidden by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan through underhanded maneuvers and the exertion of its immense influence in government. AMBALA recently sent a letter to the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office attached with voluminous land titles and documents to prove that the Cojuangcos have swindled not only Luisita farmers, but the whole Filipino people with its illegal and immoral claims on Hacienda Luisita.

Despite repeated written and personal requests, the DAR never furnished AMBALA a copy of the Hacienda Luisita land survey conducted by the FF Cruz firm, the subsequent per barangay subdivision plan and the results of the raffling of lot allocation certificates to beneficiaries. From the start, the DAR never even bothered to include AMBALA representatives to participate in the actual survey.

The DAR Employees Association, meanwhile, has lodged a complaint before the Ombudsman regarding overpriced payment to the FF Cruz firm for the Hacienda Luisita land survey.

Balete LandGrab

SUPREME COURT ORDERED the accounting of the books of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc (HLI) and payment to farmworkers of their share of proceeds of HLI’s sale of the 500-hectare property to RCBC and LIPCO and 80.5 hectares used for the SCTEX amounting to Php 1.33 billion;


The DAR, even at the onset, had consciously subverted the auditing process when it failed to immediately recognize and appoint the OMLL, the auditing firm of choice of farm workers as represented by AMBALA and of all other parties to the SC case, except for the HLI which is the main subject of the audit. The DAR purposely delayed the process by seeking the SC’s opinion on a no-brainer decision.

Under the Sereno leadership, the Supreme Court issued last March an order appointing, instead of just one credible auditing firm, three accountants to take on the task of evaluating the books of the HLI. AMBALA, however, contends that, to maintain the credibility and independence of the audit, only one auditing firm, OMLL, should be appointed. Upon background check, the two other entities, according to AMBALA, appear to have had ties with the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Deloitte is a firm openly endorsed by the HLI to the SC, while Carisa May Pay Penson is a former employee of the KPMG firm which AMBALA had previously sought to disqualify for having had business ties with the Cojuangcos. Penson, furthermore, is technically not a qualified accountant.

SUPREME COURT ORDERED the issuance, for free, of the 240-square meter homelots allocated to farmworkers in 1989; and 18,804 shares of stocks of the HLI to 4,206 non-qualified FWBs who will remain as stockholders;
The Cojuangco-Aquinos have transferred ownership of parcels of the Hacienda Luisita property to several of their corporate avatars. This was cunningly done in order that the Cojuangco-Aquinos may hide their investments and profits from the Luisita farm workers and sugar mill workers, the HLI’s supposed co-owners. The historic 2004 Hacienda Luisita strike of thousands of farm workers and sugar mill workers was triggered by the very recognition of this grave anomaly and injustice. The strike, despite great odds and sustained violent attacks by the Cojuangco-Aquinos, resolutely pushed for the revocation of the SDO and to put a stop to land use conversion. If properly accounted for, the HLI and the Cojuangco-Aquino family may be obligated to compensate farm workers not just with the Php 1.33 billion returns but with all other hefty revenues from its illegitimate transactions involving Hacienda Luisita property.

Until now, Luisita farmworkers still do not have proper documents and land titles to prove ownership of their homelots located in the barangay proper of each of the 11 villages. They have become easy prey to deceitful transactions, harassment and eviction. Threats of further dislocation and demolition of homes loom especially in barangays Balete, Cutcut, Lourdes, Central and Mapalacsiao where agricultural areas have been transformed into walled garrisons and plastered with tarpaulin banners announcing “DEVELOPMENT SOON TO RISE.”

The Cojuangco-Aquinos aggressive land grab efforts, coupled with the Aquino administration’s actions to railroad Charter Change and pave the way for unhampered foreign investments, threaten to wipe out the whole agricultural community of Hacienda Luisita in favor of an elitist and foreign-controlled Luisita Ecozone project. The Cojuangco-Aquinos have been employing bribery, deceit and fake petitions to prop up their illegal and immoral claims.

compensation

SUPREME COURT ORDERED the payment by the DAR of just compensation to HLI for agricultural land at the price prevailing in 1989.
AMBALA asserts that Luisita farmworkers should not be treated like any ordinary claimants of government land reform benefits. They have long been in fact the rightful, original Luisita landowners whom the Cojuangco-Aquinos, through decades of swindle and terror, have severely disenfranchised. AMBALA, thus, maintains that the Cojuangco-Aquinos, in finally relinquishing claim over Hacienda Luisita, deserve not a single peso in return. 
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The SC, however, has ruled that the Cojuangco-Aquinos would have to be compensated. Such remuneration, according to the high court, shall be pegged at the estate’s 1989 value, or about Php 40,000 per hectare. Even before the actual distribution process, or months before the DAR’s Luisita farce completely unravelled, the department had already disbursed Php 471.5 million pesos to HLI in so-called “just compensation,” easily more than double the value initially prescribed by the SC. The DAR justifies this by saying that Php 304 million of the total amount is the actual cost of the land property while the remainder is the cash equivalent of matured 10-year LBP bonds computed using the prevailing 91-day T-bill rates from 1989 to 1999. The HLI lawyers meanwhile commented that the said amount is still very minimal. Many believe that the Cojuangco-Aquinos will try to negotiate further and push it to the billion level.

Such landlord compensation racket is especially disturbing not only because Luisita farm workers remain destitute, but also because what the government has paid the Cojuangco-Aquinos could, in all likelihood, be the very same fund which is now being used to sustain the massive project of deception and terror in the hacienda.

Hacienda Luisita will remain Cojuangco-Aquino country with DAR’s help & CARPER

DAR landlord talking heads Sec. Gil delos Reyes and Undersecretary Tony Parungao can boast as long as they want about their agency’s so-called achievements in distributing Hacienda Luisita to thousands of farm workers.

The government’s dismal land reform record in Hacienda Luisita and other traditional strongholds of hacenderos like the Negros Island, speaks for itself. With shameless bureaucrats like delos Reyes and Parungao, the powerful Cojuangco clan is assured of loyal back-rubbing. Their lies, however, will never expunge their crimes against the peasants and the Filipino people.

Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., cousin of Luisita kingpin Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr., still controls 5,030 hectares of lands under the so called “corporative scheme.” Another 2,536 hectares owned by 10 landlords are still under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme which was similarly implemented in Luisita under the CARP. According to NFSW, 1,905 SDO “beneficiaries” still live like typical farm workers with the same dismal conditions as in any other hacienda. Dividends, or shares in the capital stock received by farmworker-beneficiaries range only from P340 to P500 annually.

The SDO scheme in Tarlac brought extreme poverty and suffering to farmworkers and prompted thousands to rise up and strike against the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. management. The SDO was revoked in Hacienda Luisita via a landmark Supreme Court decision two years ago. However, this same big landlord scam is still in effect in 10 Negros haciendas leaving thousands of hectares of agricultural land under the control of a handful of powerful and scheming landlords .

DAR’s land distribution travesty in Hacienda Luisita has, since July last year, not only caused confusion but also massive dislocation of farmers. The DAR’s cunning manuevers that allowed around two thousand hectares of agricultural lands to be exempted from distribution have now given the Cojuangco-Aquinos the green light to violently evict hundreds of farmers from the plots that they have long been tilling. Delos Reyes, Parungao and other yellow agents in the DAR have been going out of their way to justify the heightened atrocities against agrarian reform beneficiaries by publicly stating that there is nothing illegal in the Cojuangco-Aquino’s bulldozing of crops and fencing of agricultural lots.

Without sensing any irony in their shameless actions, agrarian reform personnel have also recently caused the unlawful arrest of five farmers associated with the Alyansa ng mga AMBALA, practically threatening all other hapless farmers that they could face years of imprisonment if the DAR so wishes. The DAR it seems has forgotten that the SC decision was precisely in favor of AMBALA, the main petitioner in the landmark case representing thousands of farmworkers fighting for genuine agrarian reform and social justice in Hacienda Luisita.

The history of agrarian struggle in Luisita, Negros and the whole Philippine countryside has long proven the DAR’s active role in serving the interests of big landlord families such as the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos. The landlord-sponsored CARP and its extension CARPER, have long been a costly and violent farce that must be ended. ##

           
     
DAR Intentionally Excluded Other Lands for Distribution in Hacienda Luisita
     
     

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DAR Intentionally Excluded Other Lands for Distribution in Hacienda Luisita
Posted on April 27, 2014
AMBALA STATEMENT – April 25, 2014

The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) is refuting the Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes’ claim that the DAR has so far been faithful to the 2012 Supreme Court decision to distribute more than 4,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita lands, and that the lands that are now being disputed by the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the Luisita farm workers are not covered by the landmark SC ruling.

According to AMBALA chairperson, Florida Sibayan, “the DAR secretary must be reminded that the SC decision specifically orders DAR to find other agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita and inlude these lands for land distribution.” Sibayan is refering to the specific provision in the April 24, 2012 final and executory decision of the SC which says that while only 4,915.75 out of the more than 6,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita should be coverable, “it should be taken into account that this should not prevent the DAR, under its mandate under the agrarian reform law, from subsequently subjecting to agrarian reform other agricultural lands originally held by Tadeco that were allegedly not transferred to HLI but were supposedly covered by RA 6657.”

Sibayan further asserts that the matter itself that only 4,915 hectares has been made coverable out of the more that 6,000 hectare of Luisita lands “points to how the Cojuangco-Aquinos, in collusion with the DAR, through illegal acts of land conversion, has manuevered to retain more than a thousand hectares of lands.” These include properties of other Cojuangco-owned companies such as those now controlled by the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) 382.5451 has., Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) 373.909 has. , Luisita Golf and Country Club (LGCC) 78.8823 has., and the Tarlac Development Corporation 586 has. Out of a total of 1063.4776 has. , Delos Reyes stated that only around 300 might be covered for land distribution.

Sibayan said that these lands are generally still very much agricultural in nature even as some parts may have already been used for some other purposes through land conversions that were never legally approved by the DAR. The DAR only approved the conversion of 584 hectares of land.

If one includes the 358 hectares which have already been given an NOC, these total 1421.4776 hectares. This is 1/3 of the 4,335 hectare land that should have been distributed by DAR based on one of its rulings which stipulated that these were the lands that were converted into Stock Distribution Option (SDO). In essence the DAR should have distributed 5756.4776 hectares instead of only 4,099. The farm worker beneficiaries were robbed of an additional 1657.4776 hectares of land.

AMBALA had already submitted to the Tarlac DAR office on April 15 a letter requesting that the 1421.4776 hectares of land should be distributed to the farm worker beneficiaries based on the SC decision. This was given to DAR Sec. de los Reyes’ office on April 24.

AMBALA however says that “not much can be expected of DAR given its long record of conniving with the Cojuangco-Aquino’s in implementing a sham land reform program in the Hacienda. This includes encouraging TADECO to forcibly and violently evict the farm worker beneficiaries in the 358 hectare lots in Barangays Balete and Cutcut together with the help of police and military personnel even if DAR had already issued a Notice of Coverage (NOC) on said lands. “

 

     
           
     
Hacienda Luisita & Negros will remain Cojuangco countries with DAR & CARPER
     
     

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Hacienda Luisita & Negros will remain Cojuangco countries with DAR & CARPER

Posted on April 21, 2014

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) led by landlord talking heads Sec. Gil delos Reyes and Undersecretary Tony Parungao can boast as long as they want about their agency’s so-called achievements in distributing Hacienda Luisita to thousands of farm workers.

The government’s dismal land reform record in Hacienda Luisita and Negros, both traditional strongholds of hacenderos, speaks for itself. With shameless bureaucrats like delos Reyes and Parungao, the powerful Cojuangco clan is assured of loyal back-rubbing. Their lies, however, will never expunge their crimes against the peasants and the Filipino people.

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), a national federation of farm workers, joins local peasant groups in a conference in Bacolod City starting today to tackle the impact of the bogus land reform program CARP and its extension CARPER.

According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), a member-organization of UMA, when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) commenced in 1988, 80% of the agricultural lands in Negros were owned by 20% of landlords. By 1993, 53% of agricultural lands in the island would be concentrated in the hands of only 5% of landlords.

In a survey conducted by the Negros Occidental Provincial Government in 2007, 41 % of supposed Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in the province were no longer in possession of the lands that were awarded to them. This has been due mainly to the lack of support services and non-land support facilities that have forced the ARBs to have their lands leased. This figure has been estimated to have reached not less than 60% in 2013.

Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr., cousin of Luisita kingpin Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr., still controls 5,030 hectares of lands under the so-called “corporative scheme.” Another 2,536 hectares owned by 10 landlords are still under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme which was similarly implemented in Luisita under the CARP. According to NFSW, 1,905 SDO “beneficiaries” still live like typical farm workers with the same dismal conditions as in any other hacienda. Dividends, or shares in the capital stock received by farmworker-beneficiaries range only from P340 to P500 annually.

The SDO scheme in Tarlac brought extreme poverty and suffering to farmworkers and prompted thousands to rise up and strike against the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) management. The SDO was revoked in Hacienda Luisita via a landmark Supreme Court decision two years ago. However, this same big landlord scam is still in effect in 10 Negros haciendas leaving thousands of hectares of agricultural land under the control of a handful of powerful and scheming landlords .

 

     

Meanwhile, the DAR’s land distribution travesty in Hacienda Luisita has, since July last year, not only caused confusion but also massive dislocation of farmers. The DAR’s cunning maneuvers that allowed around two thousand hectares of agricultural lands to be exempted from distribution have now given the Cojuangco-Aquinos the green light to violently evict hundreds of farmers from the plots that they have long been tilling. Delos Reyes, Parungao and other yellow agents in the DAR have been going out of their way to justify the heightened atrocities against agrarian reform beneficiaries by publicly stating that there is nothing illegal in the Cojuangco-Aquino’s bulldozing of crops and fencing of agricultural lots.

Without sensing any irony in their shameless actions, agrarian reform personnel have also recently caused the unlawful arrest of five farmers associated with the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), practically threatening all other hapless farmers that they could face years of imprisonment if the DAR so wishes. The DAR it seems has forgotten that the SC decision was precisely in favor of AMBALA, the main petitioner in the landmark case representing thousands of farmworkers fighting for genuine agrarian reform and social justice in Hacienda Luisita.

The history of agrarian struggle in Luisita, Negros and the whole Philippine countryside has long proven the DAR’s active role in serving the interests of big landlord families such as the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos. The landlord-sponsored CARP and its extension CARPER, have long been a costly and violent farce that must be ended.

- Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, April 21, 2014

 

           
     
     

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Anakpawis Partylist: Aquino, DAR to blame on escalating unrest in Hacienda Luisita
Posted on March 27, 2014

Party-list group Anakpawis today slammed the continuing fencing of farm lands by the Tarlac Development Corp (TADECO), owned by Pres. Aquino and his relatives. Anakpawis said that Pres. Aquino and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) should be blamed if violence erupts as they provoke unrest with the latest fencing of at least 100 hectares of farm land mainly planted to palay by 81 farm worker beneficiaries.

According to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura or UMA, armed state agents are already deployed in Brgy. CutCut Hacienda Luisita purportedly to assist TADECO private security personnel conducting the fencing. Farm workers have been tilling these lands for foodcrops since 2005.

As of press time, UMA said that fully-armed state personnel composed of 15 police plus an 8-man SWAT team are presently assisting TADECO security men in fencing 100 hectares of agricultural land in Barangay Cutcut. Police officers include P/INSP. GALICIA, SPO3 BALOT, SPO3 GARCIA, SPO1 ABELLA & PO2 BERNARDO of PNP Tarlac.

“Anakpawis condemns in the highest degree these brazen and criminal acts of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan against farm workers of Hacienda Luisita. This animosity of Aquino and his relatives reveals they are hell-bent in preserving their hold in Hacienda Luisita,” said Anakpawis party-list representative Fernando Hicap

‘”For decades, the presidents’ family has been consistent law breakers resulting in years of legal struggle for Luisita’s ownership. Despite the court’s unanimous decision to award Luisita to the farm workers, it continues to twist the law using Pres. Aquino’s position and DAR to justify its land grabbing escapade” Hicap added

Hicap also said that “Only in this country can you witness farmer beneficiaries being charged of different unlawful acts despite their right to the lands that should already be awarded to them. In addition, state forces are being used to protect the illegal fencing activity of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. This is a very disheartening and abhorring fact”.

Yesterday, TADECO security personnel attacked and injured a Luisita farm worker leader. UMA reported that Rudy Corpuz of Brgy Cutcut suffered head injuries due to the mauling.

The party-list lawmaker expresses outrage on the silence of the DAR in the recent incidents. He said that while DAR proudly announces the completion of supposed distribution of Hacienda Luisita, in reality the contention continues as TADECO’s non-stop land grabbing activities remain unchecked despite the farm workers’ different appeals, opposition and protests.

“If they can’t do their job, they might as well resign — from the DAR chief up to his under secretaries, assistants and other useless regional directors. Let the beneficiaries do their jobs for them” He further said

“Anakpawis is urging Luisita farm workers to fight and oppose the continuing aggressive, illegal and immoral action of Cojuangco-Aquinos. They should not stop organizing their ranks and show their collective strength to oppose TADECO’s land grabbing” Hicap concluded ###

March 27, 2014

For reference: Anakpawis party-list representative Fernando Hicap
 

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Agrarian reform officials can’t stop Cojuangco-Aquino violence in Hacienda Luisita
Posted on March 26, 2014

URGENT ALERT

The top official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Tarlac says they cannot do anything about the escalating violence perpetrated by the Cojuangco-Aquino family against farmers in Hacienda Luisita.

Tarlac Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) Ileona B. Pangilinan practically washed her hands of any responsibility in the Tarlac Development Corporation’s (TADECO) fencing off of hundreds of hectares of agricultural land from farmers in Hacienda Luisita. TADECO resumed setting up of concrete fences in Barangay Cutcut with their private security guards assisted by members of local police and military. This, despite a notice of land reform coverage dated December 17, 2013, issued by the DAR on disputed TADECO property.

Reached over the phone by Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) media officer Gi Estrada, PARO Pangilinan said that DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes has yet to release a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against TADECO’s eviction of farmers. AMBALA filed a petition for a CDO when bulldozing of crops in another village, Balete, led to the arrest and mauling of several farmers and the bulldozing and destruction of hundreds of hectares of farmers’ crops during the last Christmas season.

Pangilinan said that it is up to barangay officials, and not the DAR, to deal with peace and order issues in the village level. UMA stated however, that TADECO‘s security guards are assisted by state forces –20 local members of the Philippine National Police and 10 army personnel belonging to the 3rd Mechanized Battalion. The company headquarters of the said army unit is found inside the TADECO’s fenced area in Barangay Balete where Cojuangco bulldozers are also parked. Preceding TADECO’s aggressive moves in Cutcut, soldiers conducted a medical mission in Barangay Cutcut, March 22.

The PARO head only promised to monitor the situation but cannot do anything else, even if she was told that a clash between farmers and TADECO’s security forces is most likely to happen.

UMA fears that new unlawful arrests might occur and new trumped-up charges might be fielded against protesting Luisita farmers.

“The Notice of Coverage issued by the DAR on the hundreds of hectares of land in barangays Balete and Cutcut is just a scrap of paper. It does not prevent landlords with the aid of private and government security forces from illegally evicting farm workers who have been tilling the lands since 2005,” said Christopher Garcia, AMBALA spokesperson.

The DAR never recognized the farmworkers’ “bungkalan” initiative, and the rights of farmers who tilled the land for food crops in Hacienda Luisita since 2005.



References:
Gi Estrada, media officer 0916.611.4181

Christopher Garcia, AMBALA spokesperson 0929.320.0615

           
           
           
           

 

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