Monthly Archives: October 2009

Fishers say P 18.5 B Laguna Lake rehab plan a bailout to big business

By Billy Javier Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz

Manila, Philippines- Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Saturday said the P 18.5 billion budget set aside by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the rehabilitation of the calamity stricken Laguna Lake is a bailout for companies conducting business operations around the lake.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair and SLLM convener Fernando Hicap said the rehabilitation plan appeared like a bailout for factories and industrial plants which will benefit from the construction of 5 lakeshore areas for wastewater treatment facilities and 4 sewage treatment plants.

“The cruel intention of Malacanang is to carry out the rehabilitation of big business affected by storm Ondoy. Now it appears to us that this rehabilitation project is nothing but a major bailout for all-time profiteers and exploiters and not for lakeshore people seeking a comprehensive pro-people rehabilitation plan in Laguna Lake,” added Hicap.

The P 18.5 billion Laguna Lake rehabilitation project aims to resolve flooding problems in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna province. Based on the initial plans of NEDA, the government will implement the dredging of the Laguna lake navigational lane and the entire 8-kilometer stretch of the Napindan channel.

The rehabilitation plan also includes the development of transport systems and service repair centers. Specifically, the program targets to build 12 ferry stations in several sites. The NEDA said the Laguna de Bay rehabilitation project is set to be implemented from 2010 to 2012.

The Pamalakaya leader also lambasted the plan of the government to borrow loans for the rehabilitation project, asserting that the project is meant to assist big corporations, but the Filipino taxpaying public will be the one to pay for the loans to be sourced from Belgian government under the Belgian’s Super Subsidy Program and other Belgian private banks.

“The loans from Belgian financial biggies which will be used for the water treatment facilities and transport needs of big businesses in Laguna Lake will be paid by the Filipino taxpaying public. Where is social justice here?” asked Hicap.

Earlier, leaders of various people’s organizations in Laguna Lake had agreed to file criminal and administrative charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) chair Edgar Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman, whom they blamed as masterminds behind Laguna Lake’s swallowing of more than 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region.

Since last week, leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM had been conducting formal and informal consultations among fishermen, farmers and urban poor groups in Laguna Lake on the filing of class suit and other appropriate charges against President Arroyo and Mr. Manda. They asserted that the continuing closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) was the immediate cause why majority of towns along Laguna Lake were and are still submerged to 14.5 meter deep since typhoon Ondoy stormed the country on Sept.26.

“The collective sentiment of the people in Laguna Lake is loud and clear– they hold the Office of the President and LLDA responsible for this across-the-lake calamity, and they want to bring them to court and to the court of public opinion,” Pamalakaya said.

The fisherfolk group had also consulted advocacy groups based in Metro Manila who are also organizing urban poor, women and worker groups along Laguna Lake about their plans to charge President Arroyo and Mr. Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman. Pamalakaya said the response was very positive and the filing of case against Arroyo and Manda may take place before the end of November.

“The Laguna Lake people in particular and the Filipino people in general have a case against Arroyo and Manda, and this will be billed in contemporary history as People of the Philippines versus President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA general manager Edgar Manda,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said aside from Arroyo, other government officials will also be included in the charge sheet, but the Pamalakaya leader said they will reveal the names on the eve of the filing of charges against the President and the LLDA general manager.

Pamalakaya said aside from filing criminal and other appropriate charges, it will join forces with SLMM in the signature campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional dismantling of NCHS. The group said fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists have committed to initiate the campaign and gather signatures that will press the immediate removal of the controversial structure constructed in 1983.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.lippines-

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Freedom Wall: Statement from the Cordillera People

October 30, 2009

Decommission the San Roque Dam and Rescind the Power Purchase
Agreement Now!

The flooding of Pangasinan at the height of Typhoon Pepeng was foreseen as an impact of the San Roque Dam. This was among the reasons why people protested against this Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) flagship project launched by then President Fidel V. Ramos and completed during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Agno River communities and the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance sounded this warning prior to dam construction, and reiterated it several times before dam completion, but it was not heeded.

Now that the flooding has happened, an independent probe of the management of the dam, as well as its purpose, capacity and operations, is urgent not just to ensure the accountability of those who are responsible for the devastation and loss of lives, homes and livelihoods, but also to enact measures that can prevent the reoccurrence of catastrophic flooding.

While we do not discount the fact that climate change and the volume of rain poured during Typhoon Pepeng have contributed to the calamity, we still hold accountable the persons who insisted on the construction and operation of the San Roque Dam.

Reduced Capacity for Water Storage?

PAG-ASA’s website stated that the San Roque Dam water level increased from 281 to 284 meters above sea level (masl) on October 4 and 5. It was at 289.1masl – 0.9 meters away from its 290 masl critical level from October 6 to 9.

Two hundred meters high and spanning 1.13 kilometers, San Roque Dam has a storage capacity of 850 million cubic meters. Ideally, it should be able to hold the volume of rain water poured during Typhoon Pepeng if not for the heavy siltation along the Agno River which is estimated at an uncontrollable 6.35 million cubic meters per year. Further siltation of the river due to persisting mining activities in Itogon and Tuba, Benguet has yet to be taken into account. If the reservoir water storage has been reduced due to silt deposition, as stated in the study of sedimentation along the Agno River and as experienced with the Ambuclao and Binga Dams, then this is one of the main reasons the dam gates were opened last October 9, releasing about 5,000 cubic meters of water per second at the height of the storm.

The heavy siltation would mean that a high water level would always be needed by the San Roque Dam for its turbines to produce energy. The decreased capacity for water storage would also mean that torrential rains would result in flooding at the scale experienced during Typhoon Pepeng or even worse. The probable maximum flood rate is placed at 12,800 cubic meters per second. This will inundate at least 1, 250 square kilometers of Pangasinan and Central Luzon, and will affect more than
a million people.

More Concerns

Trauma and anxiety caused by the devastating flood could not be easily addressed or calmed due to the fact that the San Roque Dam stands within the Philippine fault zone. It is close to where the San Manuel and San Jose faults converge before meeting with the Digdig Fault, which is only 26 kilometers away from the damsite. A major earthquake could very well result in a breach of the dam structure and flood the entire Agno drainage area, which includes more than half of Pangasinan, a portion of Tarlac, and a portion of Nueva Ecija.

Studies also show that earthquakes can be triggered by the volume of water and other materials held by the dam. Reservoir-Induced Seismicity (RIS) is a probability with large dams such as San Roque, which is the largest earthcore, rockfill dam in Asia. The weight of the reservoir’s content may put enough pressure on the ground and near the reservoir to cause a fault movement.

The Ramos administration considered the San Roque Multipurpose Dam a flagship project of the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) in 1996 to address the energy crisis in the 1990s. Since his administration to that of President Arroyo, the government has claimed that it the dam would generate cheap energy, improve water quality, provide irrigation to the agricultural fields in
Pangasinan and serve as flood control.

None of these has been achieved by the dam.

The energy production of the dam is at 85 megawatts – far from its potential 345 megawatts. We, the citizens, pay the fixed amount of PHP 806,852,000.16 permonth for its capacity fee and operating fee, aside from the energy fee that it charges. We pay this amount even during times when the dam does not produce electricity. These are the conditions in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed by the government on our behalf, without our consent, drowning us further

Who Should Be Held Accountable?

It is not enough that Alexander Palada of the National Power Corporation was relieved in response to the calls against the San Roque Dam’s operations after the typhoon. Equally responsible is the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC). The project was funded through Official Development Aid by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). All of these companies and institutions, and Philippine government officials, such as former President Ramos and current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are responsible for the dam and should be held accountable for the devastation it caused. It is not mere mismanagement which caused the flooding but the very existence and operations of the San Roque Dam itself.

We Reiterate Our Call: Decommission the Dam and Rescind the PPA Now!

From its start in 1996 to its completion in 2002, we protested the damming of the Agno River for the third time. We cited its environmental impact and its social and economic costs. Residents along the Agno River, some of whom were displaced by the Ambuclao and Binga dams, were persistent in opposing the dam because of their experience. The flooding during Typhoon Pepeng should be a wake-up call for the government to decommission the San Roque Dam which is now also the position of the mayors of Pangasinan. The government should also rescind the disadvantageous PPA.

The Arroyo government, if it is sincere in protecting the people’s lives, properties, livelihood and environment should not wait for another storm or another wave of devastation before it acts. It should
heed what we have stated in our years of protests , the Agno River should be allowed to flow free.#

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Bayan Muna slams Palace refusal to stop debt payment

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines- Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teddy Casiño slammed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for honoring fraudulent debts at the expense of the general public and Filipino taxpayers.

In a press statement emailed to The Pamalakaya Times, the activist lawmaker decried reports that the Macapagal-Arroyo government spent a total of P549.016 billion to service its debt from January to September this year.

The amount, according to Casino is two percent higher than the P537.352 billion it released last year for the same purpose. Some P235.283B of the total went to interest payments, slightly higher than last year’s P234.706 billion.

“After the devastation caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng worsened by the lack of government preparedness, it is shocking that the Arroyo administration still refuses to declare a moratorium on debt payments. These so-called ‘financial obligations” are nothing compared to government’s obligations to the Filipino people, millions of whom are worse off than they were previously because of the calamities,” Casiño said in a statement.

The Bayan Muna solon also castigated the government’s refusal to reorient the remaining section of its programmed payments for financial obligations for the rest of the year. For 2009, government aimed to allot a total of P698.5 billion for debt payments, 8.7 percent higher than the actual payout of P612.7 billion in 2008.

“It is an endless source of outrage that the Philippine government refuses to drop its debt payments when there are undoubtedly more urgent needs that should be attended to and provided for,” Casiño said.

“A debt moratorium is of utmost importance, as more funds are needed to hasten the rehabilitation are devastated areas and enable victims and survivors to get themselves back on their feet. The billions going to international banks and creditors should be given instead to local service infrastructure repair and creation,” Casiño pointed out.

Based on current data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), the government released P61.277 billion for debt payments in September alone, higher by 1.87 percent from last year’s P60.149 billion allocation.

Interest payments to local lenders and foreign creditors were also exorbitant, with the former receiving P132.635 billion during the nine-month period, and the latter getting P102.648 billion from P93.379 billion paid out in the same period last year, an increase of 9.9 percent.

Principal payments amounted to P313.733 billion, or 3.66 percent higher than the P302.646 billion disbursed in 2008 during the same period. #

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Hacienda Luisita farmers tell Noynoy: Talk to us, not to Danding

By Roy Morilla, Jay Calaguing and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-Rural based groups representing farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita on Friday urged Liberal Party presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to stop “flirting” with business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. and instead sit down with them to discuss the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 6,453 hectare sugar estate to farm workers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the hacienda based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) accused Senator Aquino of evading the issue of Hacienda Luisita, including the October 30 deadline set by the management for agricultural workers to stop any tilling activities inside the disputed 6,000 hectare sugar estate.

KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos said Sen. Aquino on Wednesday announced on national TV that he was seeking a dialogue and reconciliation with Danding, while on the other hand remains elusive and non-committal to demands of Hacienda Luisita agricultural and farm workers for the free distribution of land, which he asserted, was acquired by the Cojuangcos through unjust, immoral, coercive and unlawful means.

“Senator Aquino wants to talk and exchange pleasantries with Danding. Now, what’s the big deal behind this sudden change of heart of the late President Corazon Aquino son? Is the senator and gentleman from Tarlac ready to smoke the peace pipe with Danding to gain the latter’s support for his presidential ambition in exchange for Hacienda Luisita and the land rights of agricultural workers and landless farmers?

In the same vein, UMA spokesperson and ULWU acting president Lito Bais theorized that the LP standard bearer wanted to gain either the open or discreet support of his uncle, knowing Danding’s role as political kingmaker in every presidential election, ranging from campaign funds to electoral machinery.

“It is public knowledge that Danding wants a considerable portion of Hacienda Luisita for the expansion of San Miguel Corporation, and a Noynoy presidency will make the Pacman’s dream to come true. Noynoy and Danding can deny this high heaven, but they cannot escape the sharp eyes and highly critical minds of Hacienda Luisita people,” Bais said.

On December 18, 2008, the Hacienda Luisita Management signed by Hernan M. Gregorio, Jr. — assistant Estate Manager of HLI imposed a deadline to farm workers that they only have up to October 30, 2009 to harvest and finish all land cultivation activities inside the hacienda.

In response to the Oct. 30 deadline, some 50 supporters of Hacienda Luisita farm workers staged a mass demonstration outside the Cojuangco business building in Makati City this morning, and issued their own cease and desist order against the Luisita management.
In their two-page cease and desist order, KMP and UMA declared the Hacienda Luisita Oct.30 deadline null and void, immoral, unlawful and fatally flawed.

Hacienda Luisita has been under stock distribution scheme since the implementation of CARP in 1991 during the Aquino administration, which the groups said superficially, classified the farmer-beneficiaries as “stock-holders. KMP and UMA said the SDO commenced with the massive land use conversion (LUCs) that left only about 3,200 hectares of agricultural lands from the original 7,500 hectares in 1958.

The Cojuangcos have implemented land use conversions without consultation to “co-owners” farmer-beneficiarie s, which led to the construction of Luisita Golf and Country Club, Las Haciendas Industrial Subdivision, Luisita Industrial Farm, Family Park Homes Subdivision, Don Pepe Cojuangco Subdivision, St. Luis Subdivision, a 500-hectare Central Techno Park and 66 hectare for Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (Sctex).

As massive LUCs reduced lands to be worked on by agri-workers, workload or man-days have been reduced and massive retrenchment and forced retirements have been implemented by HLI. As the economic well-being of the agri-workers are threatened by Cojuangcos’ management, they were compelled to launch a full-size strike on November 6, 2004 and followed the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16 which killed 7 striking agri-workers. #

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Satur wants “heart war” between 2 giant drug companies probed

By Cherry Pie Eggpie Sandoval, contributor

Manila, Philippines- Front running Makabayan senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo asked the House of Representatives to investigate what he called a brewing war between Philippine drug company United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab) and transnational pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc. over the production of a maintenance drug for patients afflicted with cardiovascular diseases.

In a press statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, the Deputy Minority Leader said Unilab filed last July 9 a petition with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for the cancellation of Philippine Patent No. 29149 for Atorvastatin being marketed by Pfizer under the brand name Lipitor. Pfizer’s patent prevents the creation and marketing of any similar drug and essentially gives the company a monopoly hold over the maintenance drug.

Ocampo argued there is basis to say that Pfizer’s application for a patent in the Philippines is exploitative as it tends to abuse the patent system. Pfizer may be unjustly extending its monopoly on the drug by introducing minor modifications just to extend the life of its patent, a practice known as ‘evergreening.

The Makabayan hopeful in 2010 elections said that by seeking to monopolize the production and sale of a maintenance drug that is crucial to the survival of many Filipinos with heart diseases, Pfizer is doing a great disservice to the people.

“It wants its own product Lipitor to be the only product on the market, but Lipitor’s exorbitant price is enough to cause heart attacks,” Ocampo said.

The Bayan Muna solon said Lipitor costs P34.45, P39.13 and P50.50 per 10, 20 and 40 mg tablets, respectively. Since Lipitor is to be taken at least once daily, the average cost to a patient is at least P34.45-P50.50 a day. In the meantime, Unilab is marketing Avamax, its generic version of Atorvastatin at a price 30% cheaper than Lipitor: 10 mg for P25.00; 20 mg. for P30.00; and 40 mg. for P35.00.

The activist lawmaker added that the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the Cheaper Medicines Act which was enacted specifically to bring down prices of medicine and make it more accessible to the public. The law, which Ocampo co-authored, also aims to put an end to patent abuse in the industry.

“This is a case involving a local drug company and a transnational firm: a David vs. Goliath case. It’s a test of the government’s determination to reduce drug prices. It also has serious implications on the country’s economic sovereignty and how our own industries hold out against foreign competition, and how all this impacts on the public,” Ocampo said.

Insiders in the drug industry revealed Lipitor was the largest-selling drug in the world in 2006, earning its producers US$12.9 Billion in sales the same year alone. In the Philippines, it earned more than P850 Million in sales within the period of May 1, 2008 – April 30, 2009. In 2008, Lipitor sales internationally were at US$13 billion, with about US$15 million coming from the Philippines. Since the time it was launched in the country, Lipitor sales have been at US$162 million.

“Congress should also investigate reports that Pfizer and Warner-Lambert have threatened many local drugstores not to carry such medicine other than theirs. This is predatory business practice that without doubt could mean the life and death of many Filipinos suffering heart ailments. If there is truth to these reports, sanctions should be laid down against Pfizer Inc.,” Ocampo said. #

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Noynoy, Mar warned: Stop Ayong’s demolition plan or face electoral backlash in 2010

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sugar Hicap

Bacoor, Cavite- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday warned Liberal Party presidential and vice-presidential candidates Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Mar Roxas that the people of Cavite will not hesitate to junk them in the 2010 elections because their LP point person in Cavite- Gov. Ayong Maliksi is spearheading massive demolition of fishing villages across the province to pave way for foreign funded government projects.

“We will campaign for the outright rejection of Noynoy and Mar in the province of Cavite if they cannot stop their point man– Governor Maliksi from reducing people’s homes and livelihood into debris of the past,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“This is a make or break for the two aspirants in the 2010 national elections. They have to stop the madman of Cavite, who is Gov. Maliksi, their party mate and LP’s main man in Cavite if they want to keep their winning chances at par with other presidential and vice-presidential candidates. If they will not act on this matter, the people of Cavite have no option but to campaign against the LP tandem of Noynoy and Mar, and they have nothing to blame but Gov. Maliksi and his appetite for destruction and fat kickbacks,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap said Cavite province is one of the top 5 provinces in the country with the largest concentration of voters with more than 1 million registered voters as of 2008. The Pamalakaya official said the 1 million voters in Cavite could make or unmake a president or a vice-president, especially in a hotly contested and open wide electoral race.

“Noynoy and Mar should discipline Maliksi and stop his madness if they want to stay in the electoral derby in 2010, or else face rejection of the Cavite people next year,” he added.

Reports reaching Pamalakaya headquarters in Quezon City revealed that Gov. Maliksi is planning to undertake a major demolition operation in Barangay Sineguelasan in Bacoor, Cavite to pave the way for R-1 Expressway Extension Project, an enabling project for the expansion and modernization of Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite City, which the national government intends to develop as a major international seaport in the country.

“The 11-kilometer expressway project is a road to perdition and a highway to destruction. But for Gov. Maliksi, the road expansion project is a multi-billion peso finance campaign worthy of millions of pesos of huge kickbacks in return. And to effectively carry out this P 4.3-billion road project, they are exploiting and prostituting the SC ruling on Manila Bay,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya accused President Arroyo, Gov. Maliksi, Atienza, Ebdane and Revilla Sr. of destroying the remaining corals and mangroves of Manila Bay by pushing the R-1 Expressway Extension Project by allowing the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of the submerged public properties along the bay to give way to road construction.

“Reclamation will hasten the death of Manila Bay which is currently under the Intensive Care Unit and in full environmental comatose. That undertaking by design and by orientation, and by law is against the SC decision on Manila Bay. If Noynoy and Mar will not listen and will continue to subscribe to Maliksi’s program of destruction in Cavite, then the two LP bets are digging their own graves in the province,” the militant group said.

Pamalakaya said the R-1 expressway extension project will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents in the coastal towns of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. Last year, around 1,000 fishing and urban poor families were demolished and relocated to Tanza. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promised to give P 15,000 to each family whose houses were demolished.

The militant group recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to Revilla.

Pamalakaya said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.#

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Hacienda Luisita farmers defy Oct.30 deadline

By Roy Morilla, Jay Calaguing and Ms Gigi Babon

Manila, Philippines- The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines ) and farmworkers inside the 6,453 hectare sugar estate of Hacienda Luisita announced on Thursday that they will defy the October 30 deadline imposed by the management stopping farm workers from cultivating the lands.

The KMP and the Hacienda wide groups United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu) and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) said they beefing up their forces as they anticipate displacement measures of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc.

On call

“We are on-call starting today as October 30 nears. It is the deadline set by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) on their letter to the agri-workers dated December 18, 2008 for them to leave the lands inside the hacienda. We believe that this letter is immoral, unjust and illegal as the case of Hacienda Luisita is at the Supreme Court, which means, they have no right to implement such order,” said KMP Secretary-General Danilo Ramos in a press conference today in Quezon City .

The letter signed by a certain Hernan M. Gregorio, Jr., claiming to be Assistant Estate Manager of HLI said that by the said deadline, farmers could have recover the costs they invested in cultivating the lands.

On the contrary, Ulwu and Ambala members have affirmed of no plans of discontinuing cultivation and said that the Cojuangcos’ only cling to the lands is a desperate Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court against the order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) revocating the Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

“The only obvious measure that has come out of the Hacienda Luisita struggle is the immediate and free distribution of lands to the agri-workers, ” added Ramos.

Stock distribution option

Hacienda Luisita has been under SDO since the implementation of CARP in 1991 during President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino’ s regime which superficially classified the farmer-beneficiarie s as “stock-holders. ” History has shown that the Cojuangcos’ have no plans of distributing the lands to agri-workers instead they have commenced with the massive land use conversion (LUCs) that left only about 3,200 hectares of agricultural lands from the original 7,500 hectares in 1958.

The Cojuangcos have implemented LUCs without consultation to “co-owners” farmer-beneficiarie s, which led to the construction of Luisita Golf and Country Club, Las Haciendas Industrial Subdivision, Luisita Industrial Farm, Family Park Homes Subdivision, Don Pepe Cojuangco Subdivision, St. Luis Subdivision, a 500-hectare Central Techno Park and 66 hectare for Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (Sctex).

“Stock Distribution Option (SDO) has been proven clearly to be useless for the agri-workers of Hacienda Luisita. It has caused poverty and misery, such as the daily take-home pay of P9.50. Thus, SDO and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has been futile against the Cojuangcos’ landlord control of the lands,” said Ramos.

As massive LUCs reduced lands to be worked on by agri-workers, workload or man-days have been reduced and massive retrenchment and forced retirements have been implemented by HLI. As the economic well-being of the agri-workers are threatened by Cojuangcos’ management, they were compelled to launch a full-size strike on November 6, 2004 and followed the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16 which killed 7 striking agri-workers.

“There is no question the CARP which is now CARP Extension with `Reforms’ (Carper) has betrayed the agri-workers and veered away from genuine land reform. Thus, Hacienda Luisita agri-workers are calling for the immediate and free distribution of lands and the junking of Carper which we believe would be used by the Cojuangcos’ to displace agri-workers, ” said Ramos.

“The HLI letter was dated December 18 last year, which we believe prepared in anticipation of the passage of Carper, instead Congress passed the Joint Resolution No. 1. While Carper was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on August 7, we believe that the Cojuangcos’ would revive coverage of the Hacienda Luisita lands to escape distribution, ” Ramos said.

Challenge to Noynoy

The group is also demanding Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to act decisively in favor of the agri-workers. Sen. Aquino has claimed that he has only 1/32 control of the HLI and hinted that his family would “leave” the hacienda.

“As of now, we are still waiting for Sen. Aquino to do the right thing, which is to convince his family to distribute the lands to the legitimate owners, the agri-workers who developed it. As he is running for president, being indecisive and favoring his family’s vested interest are not of the qualities the Filipino people would want for a president, actually the people would hate that,” said Ramos.

KMP also reminded that there is still no justice for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. To date, the Cojuangcos were involved in two historical massacres killing Filipino peasants calling for genuine land reform, the first was the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987 during President Aquino’s term.

“Sen. Aquino is facing a heavy roadblock on the issue of Hacienda Luisita, his inaction on the issue of land and justice would totally lead to his loss on the presidential elections. The issue of Hacienda Luisita would not wither away, he should act determined and for the interest of the poor peasants, actually the whole country even the world is on watch on the issue,” said Ramos.

Classic model

KMP with Ulwu, Ambala and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) would be commemorating the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16. They would be launching a series of action, set off by a protest action at the Jose Cojuangco and Sons Building in Makati on October 30, to oppose the issued deadline for the agri-workers.

This would be followed by another protest action in Mendiola on November 6, to call for the junking of Carper and condemn the Arroyo administration for inaction on the issue. On November 16, the group would join to the thousand-strong caravan headed for Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Hacienda Luisita is a classic model of landlessness in the country, also of the determined struggle of peasants for genuine land reform, thus, we are calling on all sectors to support the struggle of agri-workers. Social justice and fundamental reform in Hacienda Luisita would precede reforms in the country,” called Ramos.#

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