Monthly Archives: November 2009

Silence of newly installed defense chief on Maguindanao massacre, a puzzle, says leftwing group

By Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants identified with the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday said they were puzzled with the “irrevocable silence” displayed by newly installed defense secretary National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez on the Maguindanao massacre.

Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France made the inquiry an hour after Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno made the inquest on principal suspect Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who was flown from Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao to General Santos City early this morning.

“The national security adviser’s display of extreme silence on the mass murder of more than 57 civilians by the notorious Ampatuan warlord clan is something that should not be missed by the Filipino public. Perhaps he is planning something big in his mind and the declaration of the State of Emergency in Maguindanao is perhaps the beginning of any grand plan in favor of the present occupant in Malacanang,” the Pamalakaya official said in a press statement.

France said the proliferation of para-military groups and the arming of civilian volunteers for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao were the programs jointly discussed and approved by the Office of the President, the National Security Council of where Secretary Gonzalez is an influential member and the erstwhile defense chief Gilbert Teodoro.

“It appears to us that the Maguindanao massacre orchestrated by the powerful Ampatuan clan had the official blessing if not tacit approval of the national security mafia in Malacanang to justify the possible declaration of national state of emergency or even Martial Law across the country. Palace think tanks believe the situation could be exploited to justify the martial rule not only in Maguindanao but also across the country in not so distant future,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The militant group asserted that aside from President Arroyo, Secretary Gonzalez and ex-defense chief Teodoro, previous defense secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be made to explain why they allowed the proliferation of CAFGUs, armed Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) and private armies in Maguindanao and have them enlisted and functioned as military and security personnel and private armies of the powerful Ampatuan warlord clan in Maguindanao.

“Mrs. Arroyo and her company cannot escape responsibility for turning the Ampatuan clan into a political monster in Maguindanao in exchange for the Ampatuans political support for the administration in the 2004 and 2007 national elections,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Groups urge Moro religious leaders to take a stand on Maguindanao carnage

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Senior Reporter, the Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines- Moro groups based in Mindanao on Thursday appealed to Moro religious leaders to take a stand on the recent Maguindanao carnage allegedly perpetrated by a powerful political warlord clan in Maguindanao.

In a press statement e-mailed to The Pamalakaya Times, the Suara Bangsamoro and the Kawangib Moro Human Rights said in light of the Muslim people’s observance of the Eid’l Adha, their groups appeal to the Ustadz, Imam and the Ulama to devote their sermons and prayer in calling for peace and justice and hope to reign in Maguindanao and the whole of Mindanao.

Ms. Amirah Ali Lidasan, national president of Suara Bangsamoro, without sounding disrespectful in the observance to one of the holy festival of the Muslim people, the Eid’l Adha , the group
implore on their religious leaders to take a stand on the massacre
incident in Maguindanao on November 23.

Lidasan lifts a quote from the Holy Qur’an as basis for this call and
says it is imperative for the religious leaders to take a stand in
defense of the people of Maguindanao and to preempt future violence to happen again in Maguindanao and the rest of the Moro areas:

Qur’an 4:75-76 Surah An-Nisaa (The Women)
And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who
being weak are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men women and children
whose cry is: “Our Lord! rescue us from this town whose people are
oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise
for us from Thee one who will help!” Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil: so fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.

Lidasan stressed the Maguindanao massacre should gather the Moro people in a defining moment for the Moro people of Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by publicly condemning the killings and not let political and familial affiliations hinder our
responsibility as Muslims to condemn this act.

Lidasan also said that it is the responsibility of the Muslim
religious leaders to put back in the hearts and minds of Muslim people
that there is nothing to fear but Allah alone, instead of helping
perpetuate the fear of politicians and warlord prevail in Maguindanao
and the ARMM.

Lidasan grieves with the families and friends of the victims and hopes
to reach out with the rest of the Filipino people in condemning this
dastardly act.

‘We hope that the Moro people’s outcry be also highlighted as part of
public’s outrage. We are in unity with the rest in calling for an end
to the culture of impunity to reign in Maguindanao,’ said Lidasan.

Lidasan said said the Maguindanao massacre should not be misconstrued a traditional rido and the public should not be led to believe that this is natural or merely part of Moro people’s tradition and culture.

Lidasan said that simplifying the massacre as mere ‘rido’ or
traditional clan war is glossing over the heinous crime committed by
the warlords – the killing of mustadafins (oppressed) such as the
women and the unarmed people who died in the incident – and
exonerating the perpetrators from their crime.

Lidasan also criticized President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and
presidential aspirant Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and the rest of the
administration party’s move to expell the Ampatuans from their ranks,
adding that the administration merely absolve themselves from being
party to the rise and continuing warlordism of the Ampatuans in
Maguindanao.

‘We should not ignore that it is the same administration who gave the
Ampatuans the leverage over other politicians in Maguindanao in
exchange for the votes that the administration had been getting from
Maguindanao and the ARMM,’ said Lidasan saying that the administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should also be held liable for the proliferation of ‘legitimized’ private armies through the EO 546 creating the civilian auxiliary armies for local government units.

Palace challenged

Meanwwhile, the militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) challenged Malacañang today to fully disclose the meeting between Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio, ARMM Gov. Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, and Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan held at Malacañang on Monday, the day when the massacre was committed.

“If there’s really a of sincerity in Arroyo’s ‘vow to pursue justice’ for the Maguindanao massacre victims, she should reveal their talks with the Ampatuans in her own backyard first,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog in separate statement e-mailed to The Pamalakaya Times.

“What the hell were the Ampatuans doing and talking about in Malacañang while their men rain bullets and rape the journalists, civilians, and their political enemies in Maguindanao? Arroyo and the Ampatuans have been silent and evasive on that meeting. And this only raises more suspicion that it was a meeting of the bosses to ensure the success of their murder plan at their safe house that is Malacañang,” said Labog.

“And they seem to be unfazed at all, because the day after when the massacre was uncovered, Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs met with the Ampatuans again. Arroyo and minions just continue to chimmy-chummy with the criminals amid all the fingers that point to them.”

Cultivating the criminal

KMU recalled Andal Ampatuan’s declaration last national elections that he will award one million pesos to every mayor who will ensure landslide victory for Arroyo and her Team Unity party. And true enough, the very dubious 93.5% voters’ turnout in Maguindanao voted 12-0 for team unity.

KMU also cited Arroyo’s Executive Order 546, issued October 2006, as “license for the growth of warlordism” of the Ampatuans, and other political clans as well. The EO allowed local officials and the police to create civilian armies to further the fight against “insurgents.”

The Ampatuans are now believed to have a 500-strong army, including 200 special armed auxiliary forces in the guise of Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO) against insurgency.

“For justice to be served, the reign of they who will do everything to remain in power must be ended,” said Labog. #

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DENR chief told: GMA, not LGU has last say on Mindoro mining project

By Margie Duran Floresco, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said the statement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito Atienza that local government unit of Mindoro has the last say on the controversial nickel project on the island was misleading and extremely absurd.

“That’s not true, that’s not true. The mining project in Mindoro Island is a national flagship project and therefore, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the last and final say on whether this nickel extraction escapade in the island should proceed or not,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap said local government officials can voice their opposition to Intex Resources nickel exploration, but it is still President Arroyo who will decide whether to allow or disallow the Norwegian mining giant to push through with its’ project.

“The nickel project has the seal of approval of Malacanang and was billed as one of the flagship projects of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Atienza wants to kill the project he should have revoked the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued on Oct.14 by his office and tell Mrs. Arroyo to stop this corporate madness for the sake of the environment and collective interest of the people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Atienza said the ECC granted to Intex Resources was just one of the requirements for the nickel mining project to commence and it us up to the local government if they allow the project to proceed. The environment secretary explained that could not arbitrarily cancel the ECC given to Intex because there are laws to follow, stressing that the cancellation of ECC will send wrong a signal to foreign investors.

But Atienza said that if the project is proven to cover a watershed area, as claimed by those who opposed to the project, then the ECC would be automatically moot in accordance with the law.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap rebuked Atienza, and charged the environment secretary of gambling people’s lives and environment in the name of the government’s obsession for mining investments and fat commissions.

“How come the ECC of Intex Resources was approved by DENR? How come the people were not consulted? Mr. Atienza is not an expert on environmental concern as far as the Filipino public is concerned. He is just a limelight getter or an attention getter from boxing champ Manny Pacquiao,” Hicap added.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya appealed to the Norwegian government to compel Intex Resources to pullout its mining investment in Mindoro, citing the disastrous impact of the project, which will initially displace around 20,000 residents, mostly members of the Mangyan tribe.

“The Norwegian government should convince Intex Resources to drop its mining investment in Mindoro like a hot potato. This project will put the European state in a very, very bad position and standing in the international community. While we recognize and pay high respect to the efforts of the Norwegian government as third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Manila government and the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines, we do not subscribe to this kind of destructive escapade,” the group said.

The militant group commended Mindoro Oriental Gov. Arman Panaligan and Vice-Governor Estela Aceron for sticking to their position against the nickel mining project in the island. But Pamalakaya advised the two top local government officials of the island province to bring the battle of the island people against the mining project to Malacanang Palace.

“The fight against the mining project should not stop at Secretary Atienza. The next and the penultimate battle should reach Malacanang and President Arroyo, since the Chief Executive and her policy on liberalized and all-out mining should be blamed for the current woes suffered by the people of Mindoro,” added Pamalakaya. #

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CBCP asked to break silence on Hacienda Luisita row

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times
and Akihira Tatchu, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Two of the groups supporting the land claim of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers over the 6,453-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac on Monday said they were puzzled with the seemingly deafening silence of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) over the long running dispute inside the hacienda that led to massacre of 7 striking workers, injured 200 others and paved way for the arrest of 120 farmworkers and supporters on Nov.16, 2004.

“We ask the 117 archbishops and bishops of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to break their silence and issue a pastoral statement condemning the new machinations of the Cojuangco family to evict farmworkers and deny their legitimate collective land claim over Hacienda Luisita,” the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the party list group Anakpawis said in a joint statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said while they join the CBCP’s all-out support to farmers affected by aerial spraying in Mindanao and the church support to the struggle of farmers and indigenous people against the Laiban Dam, the prelate, they said, should also back the struggling farm workers of Hacienda Luisita currently facing a new round of eviction from the sugar estate management.

Hicap and Clemente said the CBCP should also issue a statement upholding the rights of the farmworkers over the Cojuangco lands, which they said were acquired through deceptive, manipulative and coercive means.

“We are not asking for CBCP’s divine intervention. But we believe their moral involvement and their Gospel are politically and morally required to rally the Filipino public against the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the Cojuangcos,” they said.

The two leaders informed the CBCP on ongoing deployment of government troops inside Hacienda Luisita.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said Liberal Party 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s hostile and incorrigible attitude on the land reform dispute is pushing farmers to reject his presidential bid next year.

The groups warned Noynoy of a massive peasant and rural people’s rejection of his presidential ambition next year if continues his arrogant and hostile attitude in dealing with legitimate demand of Hacienda Luisita farm workers to acquire the sprawling 6,454 hectare through urgent and free distribution.

“This presidential wannabe has resorted to traditional, shameless and Jurassic red baiting in order to evade an issue that needs politically correct, decent, lawful and moral response and this guy speak the same language of political terror spoken by his would be predecessors in case he wins the highest elective post in 2010. If he will insist on this kind of game plan, then he better forget his presidential ambition because rejection becomes him in 2010,” the groups added.

“Imagine, 7 farmworkers died on the spot, more than 200 strikers were injured and 120 of their co-farmworkers and their supporters were arrested during the Nov.16, 2004 violent dispersal of strikers. And Noynoy dismissed it as Leftist black propaganda. This is really mind-boggling, ridiculous and super incorrigible,” they said.

Pamalakaya lamented that while the LP presidential candidate was trying to pass himself off as champion of the Filipino people or a modern day messiah clad in yellow or in black shirt bearing the Philippine map, the hostile attitude displayed by the 49-year old politician against the legitimate demands for land and justice of Hacienda Luisita workers showcased what kind of a presidency Noynoy has to offer to 92 million Filipinos.

“How can he face and decently lead this nation of 92 million people if he cannot even face and contact eye-to-eye the 30,000 farmworkers and regular voters inside Hacienda Luisita? Give us a break,” added Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis are two of the groups which participated in the 109- vehicle caravan to Hacienda Luisita last week in support to farmworkers demand for the immediate and free distribution of the sugar estate to Luisita tillers.

Clemente of Anakpawis said the scheduled caravan is jointly organized by Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) will also demand the immediate scrapping of Stock Distribution Option (SDO), the repeal of the recently passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (Carper of RA 9700) and the passage of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

The 87-vehicle caravan will also demand the prosecution of government and military officials implicated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. A case had been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, but the latter dismissed the case against civilian officials, while criminal charges are still pending before the Ombudsman’s national office in Quezon City.

Clemente said international labor groups allied with KMU will also conduct simultaneous rallies in Japan, US, Europe, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in support of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. Also on the same day, regional chapters of KMP will also stage mass actions to demand the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco estate to hacienda farm workers.

“This is going to be a history in the making for Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. On Nov.16 a strong political statement will be delivered at the gates of the hacienda where the massacre took place five years ago,” she added.

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. The deadline lapsed and another memorandum calling all farmworkers to register was issued and hacienda workers were given until Nov.15 to enlist in the new registration being called by the management.

Meanwhile, lawyers of striking farmworkers cited legal courses of actions which they could avail to stop the management from issuing memorandum to farm workers. Legal counsel Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, executive director of Sentro Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and campaign officer of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said they will file petition for indirect contempt against the members of the Board of HLI before the Supreme Court in violation of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high tribunal against the revocation of Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

However, Atty. Pahilga said they will also file a motion with the Supreme Court for speedy resolution of the case and to recall the TRO, so that the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) which revoked the SDO and called for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker beneficiaries.

The counsel for Hacienda Luisita workers will also file of a motion with the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the multiple murders, multiple frustrated murders and multiple attempted murders filed against the military and civilian involved in the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre. #

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Activists across the globe urged UN to probe food sources destruction in RP

By Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief

Rome, Italy (via PLDT)- Some 250 activists from more than 100 countries who gathered in Rome, Italy for the Peoples Conference on Food Sovereignty signed a petition urging the United Nations led Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO)to investigate alleged destruction of country´s food sources,according to Antonio Flores, of the Kilusang Magbububkid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

The petition was authored by KMP, the left’leaning fisherfolk alliancePa Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and peasant women grouyp Amihan.

Flores said the activists who supported their petition were from United States, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Hongkong, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Martinique, Ghana,South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru,Pakistan, Palestine, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Cuba,Finland, Iceland, Russia and 50 other countries.

“We hope the UN-FAO will find merit to our rural people’s petition for a international inquiry on massive destruction, privatization and conversion of food sources courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her transnational clients,” the KMP official added.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who was part of the militant contingent in the conference on food sovereignty said activists from different nations agreed with the proposal for UN-FAO to send a high level delegation to the country to investigate what he called “transnational takeover, corporate plunder and environmental destruction of food sources in the name of super profits by international and domestic big business all over the country.”

“The strong clamor for UN-FAO high profile probe of FAO on the current state of food sources all over the archipelago has been re-echoed to UN.FAO top officials and international opinion makers. We want FAO to discover that the phenomenon of climate change or global warming and its particularity in the Philippines is a result of monopolies’ eternal thirst and greed for super profits and the Arroyo administration’s uncontrollable greed for fat kickbacks,” Corpuz said.

The UNFAO’s World Food Summit is expected to gather 400 food based groups and food rights activists in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central America and North America. The possible topics to be discussed in the 6-day conference will include food aid, climate change and climate justice.

The Pamalakaya information chief said the groups cited “major cases in the Philippines’ where food production areas are destroyed and the land, water and production rights of the people are grossly violated in the name of globalization and transnational plunder.

Among the cases the Philippine rural-based groups had mentioned in their petition were the case of small fisherfolk currently displaced by foreign funded projects in Manila Bay, the corporate destruction of Laguna Lake, the 64 offshore mining activities off the waters of Tanon Strait (Cebu-Negros), Cebu-Bohol Strait, Palawan, Panay Island, Ragay Gulf in Bicol region and other parts of Mindanao, the unabated large scale logging activities in Sierra Madre, the left-and-right landgrabbing and land use conversions in the country and the proliferation of destructive dams in the tradition of San Roque Dam in Pangasinan among others.

Pamalakaya also raised in their petition the issues of Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) among the Philippines, China and Vietnam, the setting up of ASEAN gas pipeline cornering the waters of the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Singapore and the controversial $ 110-million ExxonMobil offshore mining and gas exploration activity in Sulu sea, which the group said will destroy the country’s major sources of fish and other water-based food products.

The militant groups noted that in 1996, the first World Food Summit also held in Rome produced global commitment to substantially reduce the number of hungry and malnourished people by 2015. The FAO itself admitted that over 2 billion of the world’s population is suffering food insecurity, hunger and starvation.

They said the destruction of food production areas through private appropriation and conversion resulted to decline of food produced for global people’s consumption and on the other hand led to sharp increases in the prices of major food items such as rice (increased by 217 percent), wheat (up by 136 percent), corn (125 percent increase) and soya beans (117 percent increase).

Also in their petition, the groups and allitook into account that food imports of third world countries like the Philippines rose by 27 percent in 2007, which Pamalakaya said is not unusual given the absence of genuine land reform and the backwardness of local agriculture in the country, and the massive conversion and privatization of agricultural lands and fishing grounds all over the country. #

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Militants in Rome tell Mar: “Don’t be too “Liberal” on Noynoy

by Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief

Rome, Italy (via PLDT)-Representatives of militant groups attending the People’s Forum on Food Sovereignty in Rome from November 13-17, a parallel forum to the United Nations Food and Agriculture (UN-FAO) World Summit on Food Security on Nov.16-18 today said Liberal Party vice’presidential candidate Mar Roxas should not to be ” too Liberal” to his running mate presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the controversial agrarian reform dispute in Hacienda Luisita.

In a press statement e-mailed from Rome, Gerry Albert Corpuz, information officer of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) advised Roxas to stop acting like a second-rate spokesperson of Hacienda Luisita management.

Corpuz reacted to the statement of Roxas defending his running mate from criticisms ranged against Aquino by militant groups and Hacienda Luisita farmworkers on the way the Liberal Party presidential candidate handled the land reform dispute in the sprawling 6,453-hectare sugar plantation.

Roxas in a press conference after the LP national convention in Quezon City said a big number of hacienda farmworkers are willing to enlist or register in the registration campaign of farmer beneficiaries initiated by the Hacienda Luisita management, and that only a noisy few are opposed to the enlistment.

“Who is Mar Roxas to state that? He is not from Hacienda Luisita and definitely he is the right person to talk in behalf of the striking farmworkers. He is the son of all-time despotic landlords in the country,” Corpuz asserted.

“Mar should be extra careful in issuing statements. He knows the legitimacy of the farmworkers struggle in Hacienda Luisita, but this vice-presidential wannable opts to stay with Aquino. Excuse me, Aquino is not a saint, but an ambitious politician who carries the interest and mindset of despotic landlord and feudal aristocracy,” the Pamalakaya information officer added.

Pamalakaya along with representatives of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant women federation yesterday launched a signature drive urging the Philippine government and the family of the late former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino to immediately distribute for free, the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation in Hacienda Luisita to agricultural workers and other farmer beneficiaries.

The delegation of Corpuz,Antonio Flores of KMP, Edna Velarde, coordinator of UMA and Lennie Robinios, staff of Amihan peasant women federation said initially gathered some 52 signatures from the 400 foreign participants to the twin conference on food sovereignty in support to the striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita.

“The international community is very vigilant. They are eager to know what is going on in Hacienda Luisita five years after the massacre,” Corpuz added.

According to Corpuz, the signatures endorsing the urgent and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita were from Italy, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Palestine, Canada, Kenya, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, Malawi, Zimbabwe,Spain, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Cameron,Martinique, Cuba,Thailand, South Korea,Bangladesh,Nepal, Peru and the Philippines.

The Pamalakaya official said UMANGAT-Italy, the Italy chapter of Migrante-International will also support the signature campaign and will conduct their own signature campaign in Rome urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to give in to the demand of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers.

Last sunday, a forum of Filipino community groups in Rome attended by 60 working migrants in Rome was held in Euclide were Flores of KMP and Arron Ceradoy of Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) updated the Filipino community on the status of the current battle of Hacienda Luisita workers as far as the collective claim to the Cojuangco sugar estate is concerned.

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HLI row:Noynoy pushing farmers to reject him in 2010

By TC Concepcion and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-Two of the groups supporting the land claim of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers over the 6,453-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac on Tuesday said Liberal Party 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s hostile and incorrigible attitude on the land reform dispute is pushing farmers to reject his presidential bid next year/

In a joint press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the militant Anakpawis party list warned Noynoy of a massive peasant and rural people’s rejection of his presidential ambition next year if continues his arrogant and hostile attitude in dealing with legitimate demand of Hacienda Luisita farm workers to acquire the sprawling 6,454 hectare through urgent and free distribution.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente accused the LP standard bearer of turning the Hacienda Luisita row into a political circus, evading farmers’ call and resorting to political attacks and red bashing of Luisita workers unions and associations and their supporters.

“This presidential wannabe has resorted to traditional, shameless and Jurassic red baiting in order to evade an issue that needs politically correct, decent, lawful and moral response and this guy speak the same language of political terror spoken by his would be predecessors in case he wins the highest elective post in 2010. If he will insist on this kind of game plan, then he better forget his presidential ambition because rejection becomes him in 2010,” Hicap and Clemente issued the statement at before the meeting of the 60-member national council meeting of the activist party list group.

“Imagine, 7 farmworkers died on the spot, more than 200 strikers were injured and 120 of their co-farmworkers and their supporters were arrested during the Nov.16, 2004 violent dispersal of strikers. And Noynoy dismissed it as Leftist black propaganda. This is really mind-boggling, ridiculous and super incorrigible,”according to Pamalakaya’s Hicap.

The Pamalakaya official lamented that while the LP presidential candidate was trying to pass himself off as champion of the Filipino people or a modern day messiah clad in yellow or in black shirt bearing the Philippine map, the hostile attitude displayed by the 49-year old politician against the legitimate demands for land and justice of Hacienda Luisita workers showcased what kind of a presidency Noynoy has to offer to 92 million Filipinos.

“How can he face and decently lead this nation of 92 million people if he cannot even face and contact eye-to-eye the 30,000 farmworkers and regular voters inside Hacienda Luisita? Give us a break,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said in Hacienda Luisita, where there are 30,000 registered voters encompassing 10 big barangays, Sen. Noynoy will be lucky enough to get at least 10 percent of the votes come the May 2010 presidential election.

In fact, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are threatening to campaign a zero vote for Noynoy if he will not do his job to resolve the agrarian dispute in favor of the land tillers”, the group said.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis are two of the groups who will participate in the 87 vehicle caravan on Nov.16 to Hacienda Luisita from the National Capital Region to Tarlac in support to farmworkers demand for the immediate and free distribution of the sugar estate to Luisita tillers.

Clemente of Anakpawis said the scheduled caravan is jointly organized by Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) will also demand the immediate scrapping of Stock Distribution Option (SDO), the repeal of the recently passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (Carper of RA 9700) and the passage of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

The 87-vehicle caravan will also demand the prosecution of government and military officials implicated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. A case had been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, but the latter dismissed the case against civilian officials, while criminal charges are still pending before the Ombudsman’s national office in Quezon City.

Clemente said international labor groups allied with KMU will also conduct simultaneous rallies in Japan, US, Europe, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in support of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. Also on the same day, regional chapters of KMP will also stage mass actions to demand the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco estate to hacienda farm workers.

“This is going to be a history in the making for Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. On Nov.16 a strong political statement will be delivered at the gates of the hacienda where the massacre tooj place five years ago,” she added.

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. The deadline lapsed and another memorandum calling all farmworkers to register was issued and hacienda workers were given until Nov.15 to enlist in the new registration being called by the management.

Meanwhile, lawyers of striking farmworkers cited legal courses of actions which they could avail to stop the management from issuing memorandum to farm workers. Legal counsel Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, executive director of Sentro Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and campaign officer of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said they will file petition for indirect contempt against the members of the Board of HLI before the Supreme Court in violation of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high tribunal against the revocation of Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

However, Atty. Pahilga said they will also file a motion with the Supreme Court for speedy resolution of the case and to recall the TRO, so that the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) which revoked the SDO and called for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker beneficiaries.

The counsel for Hacienda Luisita workers will also file of a motion with the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the multiple murders, multiple frustrated murders and multiple attempted murders filed against the military and civilian involved in the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre. #

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Militants to Noynoy: Hacienda Luisita fight is valid, not black prop

by Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines- One of the groups supporting the land claim of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers over the 6,453-hectare sugar in Tarlac on Tuesday slammed Liberal Party 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino for dismissing the involvement of militant groups in the land reform row as Leftist black propaganda.

“This presidential wannabe has resorted to traditional, shameless and Jurassic red baiting in order to evade an issue that needs politically correct, decent, lawful and moral response and this guy speaks the same language of political terror spoken by his would be predecessors in case he wins the highest elective post in 2010,” the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

“Imagine, 7 farmworkers died on the spot, more than 200 strikers were injured and 120 of their co-farmworkers and their supporters were arrested during the Nov.16, 2004 violent dispersal of strikers. And Noynoy dismissed it as Leftist black propaganda. This is really mind-boggling, ridiculous and super incorrigible,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said.

The Pamalakaya official lamented that while the LP presidential candidate was trying to pass himself off as champion of the Filipino people or a modern day messiah clad in yellow or in black shirt bearing the Philippine map, the hostile attitude displayed by the 49-year old politician against the legitimate demands for land and justice of Hacienda Luisita workers showcased what kind of a presidency Noynoy has to offer to 92 million Filipinos.

“How can he face and decently lead this nation of 92 million people if he cannot even face and contact eye-to-eye the 30,000 farmworkers and regular voters inside Hacienda Luisita? Give us a break,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya is one of the groups who will participate in the 87 vehicle caravan on Nov.16 to Hacienda Luisita from the National Capital Region to Tarlac in support to farmworkers demand for the immediate and free distribution of the sugar estate to Luisita tillers.

The scheduled caravan organized by Kilusang Mayo Uno, Anakpawis party list, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) will also demand the immediate scrapping of Stock Distribution Option (SDO), the repeal of the recently passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (Carper of RA 9700) and the passage of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

The 87-vehicle caravan will also demand the prosecution of government and military officials implicated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. A case had been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, but the latter dismissed the case against civilian officials, while criminal charges are still pending before the Ombudsman’s national office in Quezon City.

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. The deadline lapsed and another memorandum calling all farmworkers to register was issued and hacienda workers were given until Nov.15 to enlist in the new registration being called by the management.

Meanwhile, lawyers of striking farmworkers cited legal courses of actions which they could avail to stop the management from issuing memorandum to farm workers. Legal counsel Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, executive director of Sentro Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and campaign officer of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said they will file petition for indirect contempt against the members of the Board of HLI before the Supreme Court in violation of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high tribunal against the revocation of Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

However, Atty. Pahilga said they will also file a motion with the Supreme Court for speedy resolution of the case and to recall the TRO, so that the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) which revoked the SDO and called for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker beneficiaries.

The counsel for Hacienda Luisita workers will also file of a motion with the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the multiple murders, multiple frustrated murders and multiple attempted murders filed against the military and civilian involved in the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre. #

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Militants urge GMA townmates to treat her a “nuisance” candidate

By TC Concepcion and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines- Staunch critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday appealed to townmates of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare her a “nuisance” candidate in case she announces her plans to run for a congressional seat in her hometown in Pampanga and files her certificate of candidacy on Dec.1,the last day of filing of politicians seeking elective posts in May 2010 elections.

“On Dec. 1, it is politically correct to say that President Arroyo becomes a nuisance candidate because nobody wants to be associated with her and that makes her a political nuisance. While legally speaking she can still run for vice-president, senator perhaps or district representative, the political sentiment and atmosphere by that time will regard her as an irritant political entity or an annoying electoral wannabe,” the leftist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

“The Cabalens will rise above the occasion. They will not give Mrs. Arroyo a chance to continue her political escapades and brutality beyond 2010. That’s the destiny and political fate of Mrs. Arroyo,” the group added.

Citing the Oct. 2-8 survey conducted by independent think tank IBON where only 17 percent of Mrs. Arroyo’s townmates in Pampanga want her to run in Congress in 2010, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the result indicates that Mrs. Arroyo is highly isolated from the people and that she cannot capable even if she runs as barangay captain in La Vista subdivision in Quezon City or in any barangay in Lubao, Pampanga.

Results of the latest IBON nationwide survey revealed that while 77 percent of respondents were very much aware and convinced that President Arroyo will seek a seat in the House of Representatives in 2010, 44.6 percent of those surveyed rebuked GMA’s plan to run for Congress next year.

The same IBON nationwide survey revealed that 61% of the total 1,496 respondents said they are aware Pres. Arroyo will run for Congress. Of this number, 85.8% said they were not in favor for the president to stay in government as a Pampanga representative.

“The Comelec and its commissioners will become the world’s biggest laughing stock if they will allow Mrs. Arroyo to seek seat in the House of Representatives or share stellar billing with national politicians running for vice-president or senators. To the Comelec commissioners we have these two words for you—get real,” the Pamalakaya official added.

Pamalakaya on the other hand denied reports that militant groups have endorsed or gravitated to the presidential candidacy of opposition Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. The militant group said colleagues in other organizations merely recognized the senator’s progressive position on a number of issues such as the legislative approval of the proposed P 125 across-the-board, across-the-country wage hike and the condonation of the more than P 40-billion incurred by agrarian reform beneficiaries under what it called “bogus” Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“Senator Escudero earned raves from militant groups and personalities because of his progressive views and position on a number of issues and we see nothing wrong in recognizing political personalities for their positive views on people’s issues,” the group said.

Pamalakaya added: “In fact, we encourage other national candidates to speak out and share their hearts and minds on many issues of national interest to the people and engage in principled debates because we advocate and carry out genuine politics of change that shuns politics of personalities and the traditional patronage politics”.

Pamalakaya said militant groups and progressive party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party, Migrante, the indigenous party list Katribu, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the government employee group Courage and Makabayan coalition will soon conduct their own electoral forums to present the people’s agenda to politicians running in national elective posts in 2010.

“But as far as the people’s movement is concerned, the endorsement of presidential candidate is not in its political radar as of now and it is still in the process of studying and determining their course of action on whether to endorse or support a presidential candidate in 2010. If there will be endorsements that will depend on the candidates’ track records and positions on major economic and political issues, and we are referring to scores of issues not few issues,” the group said. #

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THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE FARMWORKERS OF HACIENDA LUISITA

Legal Briefing Paper on Hacienda Luisita prepared by Atty. Jobert Ilarde-Pahilga, executive trustee Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), and campaign officer of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

THE ACQUISITION OF THE HACIENDA BY THE COJUANCOS
In 1957, Jose Cojuanco Sr., bought majority shares of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), including the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita from the Spanish company Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas (Tabacalera) thrug a loan from the Central Bank. The CAT and hacienda are transferred to Cojuangco’s Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), an agricultural corporation.

MARCOS FILED A CASE

On May 7, 1980, the Marcos government filed a case against TADECO before the RTC of Manila for specific performance to compel defendants TADECO, and the heirs of the late Jose Cojuangco, Sr. to turn over “Hacienda Luisita” to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform for the purpose of subdivision and sale at cost to “small farmers” or “tenants”.

On December 2, 1985, the Manila RTC rendered a decision that orders the Cojuangcos to transfer control of Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, which will distribute the land to small farmers after compensating the landowners P3.988 million.

The Cojuangcos elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA G.R. 08634. March 17, 1988, the Solicitor General, CB governor and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) filed a motion to dismiss the civil case against the Cojuangcos pending before the Court of Appeals on the ground that Hacienda Luisita would be covered by agrarian reform. Thus, on May 18, 1988, the Court dismissed the case against the Cojuangcos.

THE STOCK DISTRIBUTION PLAN and MOA

On May 9, 1989, the landowners, along with then DAR Secretary Philip Juico, Tarlac governor and the mayors of Tarlac City, Concepcion, and La Paz, the three municipalities covering the hacienda, held referendum among Luisita farm workers to present the SDO. Thereafter, Juico, Tadeco and HLI signed Memorandum of Agreement on the SDO.

In the MOA of May 11, 1989, HLI was designated as the SECOND PARTY to which the TADECO has transferred and conveyed the agricultural portions of Hacienda Luisita and other farm-related properties in exchange for shares of stock of the farm workers. The agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita which was covered by the MOA consisted of 4,915.75 hectares with an appraised value of P196,630 million or approximately P40,000 per hectare.

Based on the MOA the farmworkers supposedly owned 33.296% of the outstanding capital stock of the HLI, which was P355,531,462 or 355,531,462 shares at 1 peso per share before May 10, 1989. In the stock distribution plan 33.296% of capital stock or P118,391,976.85 or 118,391,976.85 shares will be distributed to farmworker beneficiaries within 30 years. Thus, the P118 million worth of shares of stocks would be distributed to the farm workers not as a “one-shot deal” but for a period of thirty years at 1/30 per year

As likewise provided on the MOA, the qualified beneficiaries of the stock distribution plan shall be the farmworkers who appear in the annual payroll, inclusive of the permanent and seasonal employees, who are regularly or periodically employed by the TADECO

Thus, the distribution of the farmworkers’ shares of stock is actually based on the number of hours of work or mandays in the hacienda. The mandays in turn, are based on the system of guaranteed mandays, wherein the management of the HLI allocates the number of mandays available for manual work. Moreover, if a farmworker will be dismissed from employment for any cause and therefore his name will not appear in the annual payroll, he will not receive any shares of stock for the year he was dismissed onwards. On the otherhand, a newly employed worker, although he is not a resident of the hacienda and should therefore not be beneficiary of the SDO, as his name appeared on the annual payroll, will receive such shares of stock on the basis of his mandays.

DISMISSAL OF FARMWORKERS AND LOW WAGES

In the year 2003, the daily wage for seasonal workers is P199.17 and for casuals, P194.50 which translates to a maximum of P1,327.80 and P1,296, respectively, per month based on 80 guaranteed mandays. After deductions for the loans and advance pays, the average take home pay is P18 for the seasonal, or P9 for the casual for a 2-manday week.

Aside from the diminishing mandays and horrendous and intolerable take home pay, the area of the land originally placed under SDO likewise diminished by Land Use Conversion (LUC).

As guaranteed mandays dwindle, massive lay-off of farm workers in sugar-coated forms like early retirement (replete with quit claim/waiver documents) or the more direct retrenchment become widespread.

THE LAND USE CONVERSION IN HACIENDA LUISITA

On August 15, 1995, HLI applied for conversion a 500 hectares land of the hacienda.

On September 1, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan ng Tarlac reclassified 3,290 hectares of hacienda Luisita from agricultural to commercial, industrial and residential purposes.

On August 14, 1996, DAR approved the conversion of 500 hectares of the 3,290 hectares of reclassified Luisita land and has already been converted into the Luisita Industrial Park.

The 500 hectares were sold for over two billion pesos (P2,000,000,000.00) yet, the farmworkers were only given P37.5 million by treating the same as 3% of gross sale from the production. In this year of 2006, sixty six (66) hectares is converted to make way for infrastructure projects like the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

THE PETITIONS FOR THE REVOCATION OF THE SDO

On September 28, 2003 elections for farm workers’ and supervisors’ representatives to the HLI Board of Directors only 15.26% of the shares voted thereof. Around 95% of the farm workers boycotted the elections as a protest to the SDO and because the four board seats were useless against seven management seats.

On October 14, 2003, the Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. filed petition before the DAR to revoke SDO, saying the HLI was not giving them dividends, their one percent (1%) share in gross sales and thirty percent (33%) share in the proceeds from the conversion of 500 hectares of land. They likewise cited other violations by the HLI of the MOA and that their lives have not improved contrary to the promise and the rationale for the adoption of the SDO.

On October 7, 2003, during the opening of the milling season, more than a thousand farmworkers gathered to protest the SDO, land-use conversion, joblessness at the hacienda.

On December 4, 2003, around 80% of the 5,339 farmworkers at the hacienda through their organization, AMBALA, filed a petition to DAR to nullify and rescind the SDO and to stop land-use conversion at the hacienda.

THE TASK FORCE LUISITA AND PRESIDENTIAL AGRARIAN REFORM COUNCIL (PARC).

On November 6, 2004, members of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) and members of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) simultaneously staged a strike and blocked the mill’s Gate 1 and Gate 2. The strike arose from the deadlock in the negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between CATLU and HLI (HLI) and the illegal dismissal of 327 farm workers belonging to ULWU on October 1, 2004.

On November 16, 2004 a violent dispersal of striking workers leave seven (7) dead, scores were injured. This has been known as the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

On November 22, 2004, the DAR issued Special Order No. 789 which called for the strengthening of the Task Force Stock Distribution Option through the PARC Secretariat.

On Nov. 25, 2004, the DAR task force stock distribution, later renamed Task Force Luisita, convened for the first time to discuss the petitions by Luisita supervisors and farmworkers. Prior thereto, HLI filed with the DAR its answer to the petition/protest filed by the supervisory group of respondent Zuniga and Andaya.

On March 15, 2005, DAR deployed 10 teams to 10 barangays within the hacienda to conduct focus group discussions with 453 farmers concerning their understanding of SDO, the supposed benefits thereof, the home lots and other provisions of the agreement, their recommendations on the SDO, and to determine whether there is truth to the allegations of the farmworkers that they have been pushed deeper into the quagmire of poverty by the SDO and MOA.

THE DAR TERMINAL REPORT AND RESOLUTIONS OF PARC.

In July 2005, Task Force Luisita submitted its report on findings and recommendations to DAR Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman especially as regards the investigation conducted on March 15, 2005.

In August 2005, Pangandaman created a special legal team to review the legal issues in the task force’s report.

On September 23, 2005, DAR special legal team submitted its terminal report on the two petitions, recommending the revocation of the 16-year-old SDO agreement in Hacienda Luisita.

On 23 December 2005, PARC issued Resolution No. 2005-32-01 which recalled/revoked the SDO plan of TADECO/HLI and placed the lands subject SDO plan under the compulsory coverage scheme of the CARP.

On January 3, 2006, HLI filed its motion for reconsideration of the said resolution.

PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND TRO ISSUED BY SC

In February 2006, despite the pendency of the Motion for Reconsideration it has filed, HLI filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition against the PARC et al., before the Supreme Court.

Meantime, on May 3, 2006 PARC denied the motion for reconsideration of HLI.

In June 2006, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which enjoins PARC and DAR to implement/execute the resolution revoking the SDO.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

In June of this year, HLI issued demand letters to the farmwokers to stop the cultivation of the hacienda. The farmworkers were give deadline until October 30, 2009. However, the farmworkers defied the demand and the deadline.

In October of this year, HLI again issued another letter to the farmworkers requiring the farmworkers to register with HLI. They were given until November 15, 2009. But, the farmworkers will again defy the order.

PROPOSED COURSE OF ACTION:

1. Filing of petition for indirect contempt against the members of the Board of HLI before the Supreme Court;

2. Filing of a motion with the Supreme Court for speedy resolution of the case and to recall the TRO.

3. Filing of a motion with the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the multiple murders, multiple frustrated murders and multiple attempted murders filed against the military and civilian involved in the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

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