Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Poorest Congressman victim of police abuse, confirms abuses in Hacienda Luisita

The Philippine’s poorest member of the House of Representatives, Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap claimed he himself became an actual victim of abuse inside Hacienda Luisita ironically while attending an investigative mission on September 17 of last year to look into reported cases of harassment against farm workers related to the alleged aggressive land grabbing efforts of the Tarlac Dev’t Corp (Tadeco) and the “raffle-style” land distribution of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

“Mapapaisip ka talaga kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng mga opisyales ng Malacanang na patunayan ang mga pang-aabuso sa Hacienda Luisita na ako na nga na congressman ay hinuli pa ng mga lokal na pulis,” [It is really puzzling what Malacanang officials meant by proving it (abuses in Hacienda Luisita) when I, myself, a member of Congress was even arrested by the local police.] Hicap said.

Hicap was arrested, together with 10 others (including his legislative staff and aide and an Australian land reform advocate nun), when they were gathering data about how DAR officials implemented the cloa distribution and the alleged land grabbing by Tadeco, a firm controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.  The activity was led by the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) and other farmers organization.

“Kahit nagpakilala na ako ay isang congressman, hindi nila ako iginalang at hinuli pa rin nila ako, kasunod nito, nagpahayag silang inimbitahan daw ako for questioning pero hindi iyon imbitasyon dahil pwersahan nila akong dinala sa presinto, naka-dalawang araw rin ako sa loob, ” [Though I introduced myself as a Congressman, they (police) showed disrespect and still arrested me, then they issued a statement that I was invited for questioning though I was forced to come with them, I stayed inside for two days.]  Hicap added.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap inside Tarlac police headquarters, September 2013.
Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap inside Tarlac police headquarters, September 2013.
Last October 10, complaints of attempted murder, arson, child abuse, physical injuries, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, theft, robbery and malicious mischief were prepared and filed for Hacienda Luisita farmers led by AMBALA, by a group of lawyers from the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA), National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE) at the Dept. of Justice (DOJ).  Among the respondents are the president Aquino’s uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr, sister Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, and other board members of the Tadeco, former LTO chief Virginia Torres, Tarlac provincial police director Alex Sintin and former Tarlac city police chief Bayani Razalan.

The Anakpawis representative also hinted that president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III is actually using the government institution and resources to defend his family’s interest in Hacienda Luisita as established by the speedy reaction by his Communications secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.

“Mukhang buking si pangulong Aquino na ginagamit niya ang pwesto para ipagtanggol niya ang pribadong interes ng kanyang pamilya sa Hacienda Luisita.  Ang banggit ni secretary Coloma ay sundin ang due process of law, na kaya nga nag-file sa DOJ ang mga manggagawang bukid, at tandaan natin na ito, katulad ng DAR ay nasa kontrol na naman ni pangulong Aquino,” [President Aquino somehow confirmed that he is utilizing government institutions and resources to defend his family’s private interests in Hacienda Luisita.  As to secretary Coloma’s pronouncement to follow the due process of law, that is exactly why the farm workers filed complaints at the DOJ, but we should note that, similar to DAR, DOJ is under the control of president Aquino]  Hicap explained.

“Kaya hinihikayat naming si justice secretary Leila De Lima na aksyunan na mga kasong ito at sana ay maging independent siya, para kay secretary Coloma, mapapatunayan din ito ng mga manggagawang bukid at kasama akong magpapatunay sa mga ito,” [Hence, we urge justice secretary Leila De Lima to act on these cases and we hope that she would be impartial, and for secretary Coloma , the farm workers would be able to prove them (complaints), and I would stand as witness for them.] Hicap said.

Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
(Agricultural Workers Union)

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