Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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The time is now Mr. President: Order your family to give Hacienda Luisita back to the farmers and farmworkers

Statement of Promotion of Church People’s Response on Hacienda Luisita

“Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.“ Proverbs 31: 9

 Two years since the Supreme Court unanimously decided the distribution of almost 5,000-hectares of land to farmers and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita, the sugar plantation owned by the Cojuangco – Aquino family of President BS Aquino – there is still no semblance that the family is giving up the land to the rightful owners and tillers. Instead they use all economic and political powers at their disposal to harass, intimidate, criminally charge and even kill farmers and beneficiaries and their leaders to avoid the land distribution.

Four days before Christmas last year, nine farmers from Balete village were illegally arrested and detained by the combined forces of PNP Tarlac and security guards of Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) when they were trying to protect their land and crops against the bulldozer of the corporation owned by Peping, the uncle of the President.

There were series of intimidation, harassments, more bulldozing of farm lots and crops and burning of farmers’ hut, and fencing of more than 500 hectares of land claimed by TADECO as not included in the more than 5,000 hectares of land of Hacienda Luisita to be distributed as ordered by Supreme Court.

Now, renewed militarization is wrecking havoc to the lives and livelihood of farmers and beneficiaries. Police and military personnel combined with private goons of TADECO suppress any attempt of the farmers and beneficiaries to protect their land and crops they won as a result of their sweat and blood.

While the Department of Agrarian Reform claimed that they distributed more than 5,000 land certificates out of the more than 6,000 famer beneficiaries, these are mere papers and do not mean land ownership and control over the disputed land. Adding insult to injury, the so-called land certificate states that the land should be paid within 30 years if not it must be returned to the Cojuangco–Aquino family.

The Cojuangco–Aquino family for over five decades have owned and controlled the more than 5,000 hectares of land of Hacienda Luisita that made them one of the richest and most powerful families in the Philippines.

It is no wonder the Cojuangco–Aquino family, TADECO and other family-owned corporations who profited from the toil of farm workers in the Hacienda Luisita will do everything and use all their economic and political powers to shun the genuine land distribution.

Up to now, justice has also not been served to farmers, farmworkers and supporters who were killed extrajudicially like the victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, Fr. William Tadena, Bishop Alberto Ramento and other martyrs.

Thus, we call the BS Aquino government to heed the advice of King Lemuel’s mother “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31: 8 – 9 NRSV).

Your families like King Ahab has taken the land of Naboth (1 Kings 21) and have already profited much and benefited most from the land that the farmers toil for over half a century.

The time is now Mr. President to order the full distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the poor and needy farm workers and farmers of Hacienda – the present Naboths. It is about time like of King Ahab your family should go back to the way of our God of justice by returning the land of Hacienda to its rightful owners.

Fr. Dwight Q. de la Torre
Mobile number: +852 – 9180 – 5070

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