AMBALA suspects foul play in death of farmer Dennis dela Cruz
By Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
President Aquino’s rabid defense of his pork and the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) boils down to his family’s desperate efforts to evade land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.
The Unyon ng Mangagagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA, Agricultural Workers Union) strongly remarked: “PNoy, ayaw bitiwan ang DAP at pork. Ayaw bitiwan ang Hacienda Luisita! Hindi lang magnanakaw, mangangamkam pa!” [Aquino refuses to abandon his DAP and pork. He refuses to let go of Hacienda Luisita! He’s not only a thief, he’s also a landgrabber!]
After his prime time TV declaration that he is not a thief, President Aquino’s family-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) has now filed trespassing charges against 81 farmer-residents in Barangay (village) Cutcut, Sta. Catalina, in Hacienda Luisita.
The charges came months after TADECO aggressively installed security outposts and armed personnel around choice agricultural lots in Barangays Balete and Cutcut and issued eviction letters to hundreds of farmers who are supposed to be beneficiaries of the 2012 Supreme Court decision to distribute land in Hacienda Luisita. Armed TADECO guards have also set up several “NO TRESPASSING” signs around agricultural lots tilled by farmer-residents since 2005.
In Barangay Balete, Dennis dela Cruz, a member of the farmworkers group Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA, Alliance of Farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita) was found dead inside the group’s farm hut today. Dela Cruz sustained head concussions from a heavy wooden post. AMBALA suspects foul play.
Days before the incident, dela Cruz was repeatedly threatened by TADECO guards to vacate the hut. Dela Cruz was tasked by AMBALA members to supervise the rebuilding of the group’s hut, after it was damaged by typhoon Santi.
TADECO guards have also occupied four houses in Barangay Balete and prevented its owners from repairing their homes damaged by the typhoon. Even in Barangay Mapalacsiao, TADECO personnel have informed residents that they should cease planting rice and vegetables and they will only be allowed to use the land up to harvest time.
The hundreds of hectares aggressively cordoned off by TADECO from farmers are all prime lands, with the area in Cutcut near the newly-opened TPLEX portion while the rest are all near the SCTEX (high-speed motorways).
“Sabi ng DAR, sa amin na ang lupa. Tapos na daw ang kalbaryo ng mga magbubukid sa asyenda. Pero bakit kami ngayon ang pinalalayas ng pamilya ni PNoy?,” [DAR says the land is ours. They say that the trials of the peasants of the hacienda are finally over. But why are we now being driven away by the family of Noynoy Aquino?] asked Florida “Pong” Sibayan, acting chairperson of AMBALA.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) proudly declared that land distribution in Hacienda Luisita is complete with the dissemination of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) photocopies to beneficiaries in all 10 Luisita barangays.
“Distribution of xeroxed titles is not equal to physical land distribution. Papel lang yan, hindi lupa. Ang ibig pang sabihin nito, dapat nang magbayad ng amortisasyon ang mga magbubukid, kahit ni hindi pa nila nakikita kung nasaan ang lupa nila,” [Those are only pieces of paper, not land. This also means that the peasants will be obliged to pay amortization for land that they have not even seen yet.] said Sibayan.
“Naging bingi at bulag ang DAR sa panawagan namin na libreng pamamahagi ng lupa. Ngayon sila pa ang kasabwat ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino sa pangangamkam,” [DAR has been deaf and blind to our repeated calls for the free distribution of land. Now, they are even conniving with the Cojuangco-Aquino family’s landgrabbing,] said Sibayan. The DAR has repeatedly justified TADECO’s claim by saying that the lots in question are not covered by the SC decision and are “residential.” The DAR claims that it is still “verifying” the agricultural nature of these lots.
TADECO also ordered the violent and unlawful arrest of 11 Hacienda Luisita fact-finding delegates in September, which included Sibayan and Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap.
“Hindi pa man nabibigyang hustisya ang pagkamatay ng mga magbubukid sa Hacienda Luisita massacre, pati na ang sunud-sunod na pagpatay nang dahil sa asyenda, mayroon na namang mga bagong kaso,” [Justice has not yet been rendered on the deaths of peasants in the Hacienda Luisita massacre, including the serial killings related to the hacienda, and yet, new cases continue to arise.] said Sibayan.
After nine years, justice has been elusive to victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre which claimed the lives of 7 farmworkers. AMBALA and UMA will lead intensified protests against sham land reform and impunity under Aquino coinciding with the Hacienda Luisita massacre commemoration on November 15-16.
Spokesperson – AMBALA
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Agricultural Workers Union)
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