Hacienda Luisita workers urged ILO to probe 2005 massacre

Hacienda Luisita workers urged ILO to probe 2005 massacre

Farm workers in Hacienda Luisita today asked the visiting officials of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to investigate the 2005 Hacienda Luisita Massacre in Tarlac, saying justice has not been served to the victims, survivors and families of the slain agricultural laborers.

In a letter addressed to Ms Cleopatra Dumbia-Henry, senior adviser of the International Labor Standards of the ILO, and also head of the ILO High Level Mission to the Philippines, the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)told the ILO mission that there is still no closure to the November 16, 2005 massacre and the government failed to address the clamor for honest-to-goodness investigation and the perpetrators remained unpunished and seemed like enjoying immunity courtesy of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

The UMA letter to ILO dated September 18, 2009, also mentioned the current standing of the agrarian disputes in Hacienda Luisita. It said the Supreme Court has yet to lift the temporary restraining order it issued in 2006, preventing the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to distribute the lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries and farm workers in the sugar hacienda.

It also mentioned the October 30 memo of Hacienda Luisita management ordering all farm workers to stop cultivating portions of the disputed lands inside the sugar estate. As of now, the farm workers have already planted rice and other crops to 2,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita, and this collective action, according to UMA already benefited not less than 1,800 farm workers and their families.

“We urge the ILO to send a representative to further investigate the massacre in Hacienda Luisita, and other state-sponsored terrorism committed in the aftermath of the massacre but directly connected to the struggle and plight of Hacienda workers,” said Jay Calaguing, UMA information officer.

The group spokesperson recalled that during the massacre, 7 farm workers were killed, 72 were injured and 111 were illegally arrested by the military and police. Calaguing said, the state sanctioned violence against Hacienda Luisita farm workers and supporters continued with the brutal murder of Ric Ramos, president of Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) and Tirso Cruz, board director of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) in 2006.

Calaguing also cited the case of Rene Galang, both president of UMA and ULWU who was vilified by the military as leading cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed political group, the New People’s Army (NPA). He said Galang’s house was raided by the AFP as they searched for him.

“Our president was forced to leave his house inside the Hacienda Luisita sugar estate because of serious threat to his life”, the UMA spokesman added.

UMA said the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the late former President Corazon Aquino is currently saturated by the armed forces deployed who were deployed by the Northern Luzon Command and the AFP headquarters in Manila to monitor the movements of union leaders and members inside the sprawling sugar hacienda.

On Feb 2008, the group said the family of former President Aquino is allowing the military to convert Hacienda Luisita into a military garrison. UMA said government troops from the 71st Infantry Battalion, 48th Infantry Battalion and 69th Infantry Battalion were deployed in all villages, accompanied by 20 members of paramilitary groups in each barrio.

UMA said the troops were pulled out on September last year, but it does not mean they will not be sent back to Hacienda Luisita, since the military has categorized the sugar estate of the Cojuangcos as breeding ground of communist guerillas, and therefore, a hot bed of communist insurgency.#

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