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Aquino-Cojuangco bulldozers threaten Luisita farmers anew

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
Federation of Agricultural Workers | Philippines

Hacienda Luisita farmers express support for victims of the massacre in Kidapawan. In the backround is the “kubol” or the local headquarters of AMBALA in Barangay Mapalacsiao under threat of demolition.

“Two Cojuangco-Aquinos have won the presidency with the promise to distribute Hacienda Luisita to us farmworkers. But look at what’s happening to us here now.”

The rumbling sound of bulldozers roused Hacienda Luisita farmers from sleep past 10 pm last night, April 18, when Aquino-Cojuangco aides reportedly ordered the complete demolition of collective farms and huts run by a farmworkers organization in Barangay Mapalacsiao.

According to reports from the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), goons under the orders of Arsenio “Arsing” Valentino, a known Aquino-Cojuangco aide and farm administrator were set to demolish AMBALA’s kubol (headquarters) in Barangay Mapalacsiao last night. Several women farmers held vigil to stop the bulldozing.

AMBALA is the local affiliate of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

“Hindi natuloy ang pagbuldos ng kubol sa Mapalacsiao, sa pagkakaisa ng mga kababaihan na ipaglaban ang lupa. Kahit gabi na, hindi sila natakot na ipagtabuyan ang mga magbubuldos, (The bulldozing of our hut in Mapalacsiao was averted by the women’s unity to fight for the land. It was very late, but they were not afraid to drive away the goons,” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson.

However, AMBALA also reported that the bulldozers are now on standby and demolition can continue anytime. Gravel and sand has been delivered to the area where a workers’ barracks has been set up for the construction of a new structure in the said disputed area.

UMA noted that this new threat coincides with the fourth anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita which was promulgated on April 24, 2012.

Only last month, from March 21-22, more than 20 hectares planted mostly to monggo (mung bean) and other food crops in the same area have been destroyed by 8 tractors manned by goons reportedly hired by Valentino, and another known Cojuangco-Aquino aide, Buena Timbol.

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos lamented that “President BS Aquino does not give a damn about these illegal activities in his own backyard. He didn’t even say anything about farmers killed and hurt in Kidapawan.” President Aquino was among respondents in the Hacienda Luisita massacre case filed by survivors and kin of victims, a case which was “killed” or junked by the Ombudsman twice during Aquino’s reign.

Anakpawis lawmaker Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap revived his call to investigate bogus land distribution implemented by Aquino and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Hacienda Luisita. As early as August 2013, Anakpawis authored House Resolution No. 163, directing the House Committee on Agriculture to conduct an inquiry, after reports of fraudulent processes and harassment of farmers hit the news. In October 2103, Anakpawis, Rep. Neri Colmenares and the rest of the Makabayan bloc in Congress also introduced House Resolution 417 to hold investigations regarding the highly questionable land survey of Hacienda Luisita.

“The DAR’s dubious land survey and mode of distribution via tambiolo raffle draws in highly militarized ceremonies laid the basis for the swindle of supposed beneficiaries and the shameless landgrabbing and eviction happening now in Hacienda Luisita,” said Ramos.

Other than this incident, on June 25, 2014, the DAR itself through its Provincial Agrarian Reform Office led by Atty. Jose Eduardo Narcisco, with assistance from fully-armed policemen led by SPO3 Dela Cruz of the Tarlac City PNP assigned at the Mapalacsiao precinct, and Bgry. Capt. Edison Diaz of Lourdes (Texas) village, led the destruction of food crops and fruit trees in the same area in Hacienda Luisita.

The DAR is also instrumental in the illegal arrest, smear campaign and filing of trumped-up charges against Hacienda Luisita farmers who were slapped with violation of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law – for cultivating the land promised by agrarian reform.

In 2014, complaints or countercharges were filed by farmers at the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the perpetrators and other members of President BS Aquino’s family who are involved in such atrocities against the farmers. But up to now, no action has been taken by authorities.

“Now they are wooing us to vote for someone who will continue their ‘Daang Matuwid.’ Are they referring to a ‘straight path’ where farmers are run over by rumbling bulldozers?” ended Sibayan.

Gi Estrada
UMA Media Officer


Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
Federation of Agricultural Workers | Philippines

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