By Bb. Joyce Cabral
Davao City, Philippines- Farmers in Northern Mindanao region on Monday pressed Liberal Party presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to scrap the October 30 Hacienda Luisita memorandum that orders striking farmworkers in the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to stop their collective farms
“Miduyog karon ang mga mag-uuma ug mga trabahante sa uma dinhi sa atong rehiyon sa pag-demanda nga ihunong na ang pagpanglutos sa mga mag-uuma sa Hacienda Luisita kay susama lang usab kini nga ang tibuok katawhang mag-uuma ang gilutos ug gihulga ang katungod sa yuta ug panginabuhian,” (Farmers and farmworkers in the region join today in demanding an end to tyranny against the farmers in Hacienda Luisita because this is also similar to committing tyranny and harassment the right to land and livelihood of farmers),) said Rudy Progella, the chairperson of the Northern Mindanao chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Northern Mindanao region).
In a press statement e-mailed to The Pamalakaya Times, Progella said Sen. Aquino should immediately act on the controversy to avoid further displacement to farmers who were recently affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, and will be further displaced should this memorandum take effect on Friday.
“Amo usab gihagit si Sen. (Noynoy) Aquino nga mohimo karon og kongkretong aksyon batok sa maong memorandum pinaagi sa pagkumbinsi sa iyang pamilya nga wagtangon kini nga memorandum kay dako kini nga implikasyon sa iyang kandidatura,” the militant farmer leader said. (We also challenge Sen. Aquino to come up today with a concrete action against this memorandum by urging his family to scrap this memorandum because this has a big implication to his candidacy), the KMP official said.
The Northern Mindanao chapter of KMP and its allied organizations in the region had also issued a nationwide call for the Aquino family to act on the victims of the 2004 massacre in the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation that left 14 farmers dead including 2 children. Up to this day, no one has been convicted of the massacre when 1,000 police and military personnel opened fire to 6,000 striking workers and families of the hacienda who were demanding for an increase in their daily wages.
KMP Northern Mindanao also expresses its support on the “Brown Ribbon” campaign now circulating in the internet that seeks to gather support from the urban middle class, students, professionals, church people, women and other sectors.
The issue in Hacienda Luisita is not isolated for it also affects our farmers here who were also displaced and landless because of the government policy on land use conversion including the displacement of 500 farmers in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental in favor of Hanjin Shipyard; farmers in Buffalo, Tamaraw and Litmus in Musuan, Bukidnon; cases of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards, Certificate of Land Transfer, and Emancipation Patents\ cancellations in favor of operations of logging and mining companies in Gingoog City, and several cases of lumad dislocation in Agusan del Norte, and other cases.
KMP Northern Mindanao said this scenario will further worsen with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) that cements land use conversion as a national policy.
“Hacienda Luisita is a sample case of government’s insincerity to implement genuine land reform where the Cojuangco clan has repeatedly refused to honor its commitment that placed the vast estate into land reform”, it said.
KMP-NMR asserted Hacienda Luisita rightfully belongs to the farmers based on a 1957 agreement between Jose Cojuangco Sr. and the Bangko Sentral and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Cojuangco never paid for the acquisition of the lands but the funds coming from the BSP and GSIS amounting to more than P5 million pesos, with the condition that the lands will be distributed to legitimate small planters as part of the government’s social justice program of then President Ramon Magsaysay.