By Roy Morilla and Jay Calaguing, contributors
Manila, Philippines-Supporters of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers will stage a 50-vehicle caravan on November 16 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hacienda Luisita massacre and affirmed their support to the struggle of striking agricultural workers for land, jobs and justice.
In a press statement sent by caravan sponsors Anakpawis party list, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), two of event organizers— Danilo Ramos, secretary general of KMP and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said Manila-based activists will also banner the urgent call for the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of 6,453 hectare sugar estate, which they said was lawfully and morally owned by farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.
“Hacienda Luisita belongs to Hacienda Luisita farm workers. Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and the Cojuangcos have no option but to relinquish the hacienda to the collective ownership and effective control of agricultural workers,” organizers said in a joint statement.
The KMP and Anakpawis leaders said Sen. Aquino, standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the 2010 presidential elections and son of the late former President Corazon Aquino should accept the fact that historically and lawfully speaking, the Hacienda Luisita is legitimately owned by the tilling and hardworking people of the hacienda.
“Sen. Aquino should learn the history of Hacienda Luisita and stop making the usual run-around and quit from displaying that patented pa-tweetum politics. It is time for the Cojuangco family to say goodbye to the sprawling 6,453 hectare sugar estate that does not really belong them and the Cojuangcos acquired the hacienda through dubious, manipulative and coercive means,” they said.
The KMP and Anakpawis said the caravan will mark a political statement that will oblige the Cojuangcos and their presidential frontrunner- Noynoy, to squarely face the issues involving Hacienda Luisita including but not limited to the free distribution of land and the punishment of government officials and state security forces implicated in violent dispersal of striking workers that killed 7 striking workers, injured 200 other farmworkers and arrested 120 agricultural workers and activist supporters on Nov.16, 2004.
Anakpawis’ Clemente also said KMU’s fraternal allies abroad, which include labor organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Japan and Australia will also conduct simultaneous solidarity actions on November 16, while regional and provincial chapters of KMP across the country will conduct demonstrations also on the same day to express their support to the struggling agricultural workers of the hacienda.
KMP and Anakpawis likewise criticized Noynoy’s plan to talk to business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. They dismissed the planned meeting with Danding’s group as a brewing compromise on how to divide Hacienda Luisita among members of Cojuangco clan.
“This political flirtation with Danding camp is a no show of promise but a glimpse of what a Noynoy presidency has to offer to the people—which is political accommodation and puppetry to big business,” the militant groups added. #