Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Malacañang intervenes anew on behalf of President’s kin in Hacienda Luisita

Malacañang’s recent statement mocking a farmers’ group which filed criminal cases against the President’s relatives for atrocities in Hacienda Luisita only proves that Pres. BS Aquino still intervenes for his family’s interests in the plantation even if he supposedly divested his shares there.

Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), which is owned by the President’s uncle, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., and board member Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, the President’s sister, should instead be the ones to prove that they are not guilty of the crimes attributed to them, instead of Malacañang dismissing these as merely a smear campaign and PR stunt.

Malacañang from the very start intervened on behalf of the President’s family interests in the Hacienda. Through the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Secretary, who the President appointed, it conducted a sham land reform program in Hacienda Luisita.

This included providing Barangay Captain Edgardo Aguas of Barangay (village) Central a lot allocation in the land distribution even if he was never a farm worker in the Hacienda.

Lately, the barangay official, who is listed in the annual report of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) as one of its stockholders, was given PhP3.5 million from the President’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for the construction of a new barangay hall. Malacañang also defended this by saying that this was important to provide services to the grassroots.

It is a different matter though what really is happening in the grassroots. In a sworn statement made by Raymundo Alcaide, one of those who filed cases against the President’s uncle and sister among others, stated:

On December 12, 2013, TADECO startled us by starting to bulldoze our farm lands and huts without any legal basis such as a court order. At around 5:00 pm, security guards of TADECO fenced off with barbed wire the land I farmed and the hut where I lived, then set up an outpost using materials from my hut. They also prevented me from entering my hut and farm land.

Then on December 21, around 100 police including armed members of the Special Weapons and Tactics, and 20 security guards of TADECO, came to destroy other farm lands and huts. Our barangay captain tried to negotiate with them, including with Villamor Lagunero, the representative of TADECO. But the talks failed.

The one who drove the bulldozer that further destroyed crops and huts was Al Martinez, who is a known goon of Peping Cojuangco.

The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) advices Malacañang just to shut up in the ongoing legal case and agrarian dispute in the Hacienda.  Its intervention only proves that the President’s “daang matuwid” or straight path is nothing but a sham.

More damning evidence against the President’s kin would be exposed when an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) investigates and documents more atrocities this coming October 16 – 18 in the Hacienda.

Gi Estrada
Media Officer

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
(Agricultural Workers Union)
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