Tarlac City Councilor Emily “Emy” Ladera-Facunla is the latest target of a series of “harassment suits” filed by Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) in its aggressive bid to retain control of prime
agricultural land in Hacienda Luisita.
Ladera is the sister of Abelardo Ladera, also a Tarlac City Councilor, who fell victim to extra-judicial killing on 3 March 2005. Their parents were former sugar workers in Hacienda Luisita.
Ladera recently received a resolution dated 17 January 2014 from the Tarlac City Prosecutor’s Office charging her of trespassing and coercion. The resolution was issued, however, without having conducted any preliminary investigation, thus denying Councilor Ladera of due process, Atty. Jobert Pahilga of Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA, Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform) argued in a motion.
“(T)his case is clearly a harassment suit against (Ladera)… When she was in the area of the incident at the time it happened, she was merely performing her duty as a public official to assist her subordinates in the peaceful negotiation and settlement of their conflict with the principal of herein complainant TADECO,” the motion read.
The resolution was based on a complaint filed by TADECO representative Villamor Lagunero, Jr. on 22 December 2013, a few days after the violent bulldozing of farmers’ crops in Barangay (village) Balete. The incident led to the mauling and unlawful arrest of five farmworkers.
Lagunero is also the named complainant in several cases of unlawful detainer or ejectment filed by TADECO against more than a hundred farmers in Barangays Balete and Cutcut in October 2013. Several cases involving farmers from Barangay Balete were dismissed last January. However, TADECO’s bulldozing of crops grew more aggresive and reached an unfortunate peak on 8 February, President Aquino’s birthday, when Cojuangco thugs scorched huts and crops while farmers were held at gunpoint.
Individual TADECO security guards and the Tarlac Philippine National Police were also employed by the Cojuangcos to file fabricated criminal cases against farmers and leaders associated with the alliance AMBALA. The five arrested farmers were released before Christmas after a physical injury complaint filed by a lone TADECO guard was junked.
The five, however, are now facing direct assault charges filed by police officers to justify the violent December incident involving the Tarlac PNP’s highest officials, PNP Provincial Director Alex Sintin and Tarlac City Chief of Police Bayani Razalan.
AMBALA Acting Chairperson Florida Sibayan, who was charged with direct assault and malicious mischief along with eight other land reform advocates who joined Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap in a fact-finding mission in September 2013, is now a respondent to a new threat complaint filed by a TADECO security guard.
“These harassment charges are meant to cow and intimidate farmers who assert that the Cojuangco-Aquino family is once again cooking up an enormous scam in Hacienda Luisita,” said Sibayan. “They did this during Cory’s time, they can do it again now that another Cojuangco-Aquino is at the helm of government,” said Sibayan referring to the anomalous stock distribution option (SDO) scheme in 1989 and the current sham land distribution implemented in Hacienda Luisita.
Councilor Abel Ladera was reportedly killed for exposing the SDO scheme and the Cojuangco-Aquino family’s “master plan” to convert the whole sugar estate into an Ecozone, leaving nothing for agricultural use. Huge tarpaulins announcing “soon to rise” development are now displayed on the same site where hundreds of hectares of ricefields and crops were recently destroyed by TADECO, with the assistance of Tarlac police and the military.
Gi Estrada, Media Officer
Tel. No: +63 916 611418
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
(Agricultural Workers Union)
Follow UMA Pilipinas on Twitter