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.