Monthly Archives: November 2009

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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Palace dared to takeover oil cartel, nationalize oil industry

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday dared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue another executive order declaring the state takeover the three-leading of oil firms in the country–Shell, Chevron and Petron to counter the legal challenged opposed by Shell against the current price cap imposed by Executive Order No. 839.

“It confirms that EO 839 has only minimal impact and merely a paper tiger that can be challenged in all venues by the powerful the oil cartel and their apologists in big business. The best way to fortify the people’s position against oil monopoly and other forms of predatory pricing and corporate exploitation is to push the takeover and nationalization of oil industry,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Pilipinas Shell has filed an urgent petition with the Makati Regional Trial Court to order Malacanang to lift EO 839 freezing prices of petroleum products in Luzon.

In a petition for prohibition, mandamus and injunction, Shell asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the continued implementation of the EO on grounds that it is unconstitutional.

It named as respondents Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, representing the Department of Energy-Department of Justice (DOE-DOJ) joint task force implementing the order.

“The state takeover of oil companies and the nationalization of the oil industry is the best safeguard for public interest. If Malacanang really wants to serve public interest, it should rush Congress to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law that empowers the oil cartel to treat this country like their one of their oil republics,” added Hicap.

Palace economic spokesperson Gary Olivar in response to big business proposal to withdraw EO 839, said the order was justified but may be lifted on a time schedule, independent of state calamity. But the Pamalakaya leader said the Palace statement was an indication that it is giving in to the pressure of oil companies and big business groups.

“The statement of Olivar is clear. The EO will be lifted at the soonest possible time to please the Big Three which controls more than 80 percent of the oil distribution and marketing all over the country and their business partners in the corporate world. The state takeover and the eventual nationalization of the oil industry becomes a necessity rather than rely on EO No.839,” added Hicap.

The militant group asserted the takeover of Shell, Chevron and Petron will just take less than 24-hours by mere declaration and issuance of an executive order, and all it takes, according to Pamalakaya, is strong political will that should be exercised by President Arroyo and her economic and political officials and advisers.

Pamalakaya also supported the national boycott campaign being called by the militant umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) to punish the oil cartel, which the fisherfolk group accused of exploiting the economic and humanitarian crisis to further advance their unbridled campaign for super profits.

“The boycott of the three oil firms becomes necessary at this stage to weaken their political position brought about by their control of the 80 percent of oil supply and distribution all over the country. The campaign for boycott of Shell, Chevron and Petron will make a difference in favor the exploited public,” the militant group said.

While the proposed takeover is still being discussed or debated, Pamalakaya also suggested an immediate and unconditional full-blown inventory of petroleum stocks of oil companies after Shell Philippines country chair Edgar Chua predicted an oil shortage and investment backlash if oil firms will follow Palace order to bring down fuel prices.

Last week, the Office of the President issued Executive Order No. 839, which directs oil companies to bring down prices of petroleum products to their Oct.15 levels. On Oct.20, prices of gasoline were raised by P 1.25 per liter, while prices of diesel were raised by an average of P 2 per liter.

The order to freeze prices of petroleum products will be in effect until President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lifted the State of Calamity she declared in the entire Luzon. The Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) will strictly implement the executive order.

But Pamalakaya said an across-the-country inventory of the oil stocks of Shell, Chevron and Petron to determine if there’s truth to the warning of possible shortage in supply in case the these three oil firms which control more than 80 percent of oil market all over the country reduce their prices at prevailing levels less than 2 weeks ago.

“Aside from full-blown inventory of oil products, Malacanang should also open and scrutinize the books of accounts of Shell, Caltex and Petron and have their records broadcasted in the tri-media for public consumption and public discourse,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said the three oil firms will also resist inventory and auditing of their stocks and financial conditions and profitability, and therefore, it is only lawfully and morally just for the government to take over the ownership and operations of Shell, Chevron and Petron towards their nationalization for the interest and common good of the Filipino public. #

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Militants to Palace allies: Stop talking of VP post for GMA, she will not win even in barangay polls

by Gerry Albert Corpuz and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines- Rabid critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday urged her allies to stop proposing to the Chief Executive the idea of running as Vice President or district representative in her hometown in Pampanga in the 2010 national and local elections.

“Why push her to run as Vice President or congressional representative in the second district of Pampanga, if she cannot even win the barangay chairmanship in La Vista, Quezon City or in any given barangay in Lubao, Pampanga,” the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

The militant group made the comment in response to the proposal of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, a staunch ally of the President who said that Mrs. Arroyo could run as VP and running mate of administration bet Gilbert Teodoro in the 2010 presidential and vice-presidential derby.

Suarez broached the idea so that President Arroyo could ensure the continuity of economic reforsm which she started since GMA assumed the presidency in 2010. On Dec.1, Palace spokespersons said the President will make an official statement about her plans once she steps down from the presidency. Incidentally, Dec.1 is the last day of filing of candidacy of those seeking elective posts in May 2010 elections.

The Quezon province solon suggested that Ms Arroyo to run for vice president in May 2010, so that she could continue to push for the fiscal reforms and crucial legislation that have eluded her during her current term.

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said President Arroyo can be likened to a deadman walking as far as her political career is concerned given the latest survey conducted by independent think tank Ibon.

Citing the Oct 2-8 survey conducted by Ibon, the Pamalakaya leader said only 17 percent of President Arroyo’s townmates in Pampanga are in favor of her plans to run for the second district of the province.

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. This representes the collective sentiment of the people, so even at the barangay level, Ms Arroyo will suffer a disaster at the electoral box-office,” said Hicap.

Earlier, Pamalakaya urged the six mayors of Pampanga who endorsed the plan of President Arroyo to seek a seat in Congress in 2010 elections to rethink their position warning them of the phenomenal kiss of death attached to the Chief Executive.

“We ask the mayors of Pampanga to reconsider their support to Arroyo’s plan to run for a congressional seat in 2010 in sinister try to perpetuate herself to power and enjoy immunity from suit for the next three to nine years. Remember the kiss of death that is attached and irremovable from her and that could affect their respective political futures,” the group said.

Pamalakaya reminded the six mayors of the second district– Dennis Pineda (Lubao), Eduardo Guerrero (Floridablanca), Ricardo Rivera (Guagua), Rogelio Santos (Porac), Leonardo Velasco (Sasmuan) and Yolanda Pineda (Sta. Rita) that President Arroyo is detested by the majority of the Filipino people, and even her townmates are not inclined to give her a seat in Congress despite her series of “visitorial escapades” in Lubao since last year.

“The people of Pampanga are decent people and they are proud of their revolutionary past against colonizers and traitors. They will not subscribe to GMA or to any kind of patronage politics. They want politics of change, not politics of accommodation and self-serving interest. In fact, Mrs. Arroyo appears like a dead man walking waiting for the death of her incorrigible career as a politician in 2010. So why stick to an ultimate loser and detested politician like Arroyo?” Pamalakaya.

Last week, Floridablanca Mayor Guerrero said he told Ms Arroyo about a petition urging her to run for Congress but did not get a categorical answer about her political plans. But the President just smiled at him in response to his proposal for her run as congresswoman in the province second district.

Political analysts agreed that Ms Arroyo’s frequent visits to the province this year—almost weekly, with some visits stretching for three days and most of them to towns in the second district—have led to speculation that she would seek the position now held by her son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.

The President inspects and inaugurates government projects like school buildings, roads and water systems during her visits here. She also distributes relief goods, land titles, scholarship certificates and health cards to residents.

According to Lubao Mayor Pineda he will support Ms Arroyo 100 percent if she runs in the second district of Pampanga because she could serve the district well. Another supporter Porac mayor Santos said majority of the people in the province want her to run for congressional seat in 2010.#

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50 vehicle caravan off to Tarlac to remember 5th anniversary of Luisita massacre

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. #

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GMA gave blessing to massacre five years ago, says Hacienda Luisita supporters

By Roy Morilla, contributor

Manila, Philippines-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was principally liable to the bloody carnage in Hacienda Luisita that left 7 striking workers dead, injured 200 others and the arrest of 120 farm workers and activists on November 16 five years ago.

“Remember Mrs. Arroyo and the Cojuangcos were the best of friends then. In the defense of a political ally, President Arroyo mobilized 1,000 government troops and cops to quell the legitimate strike and pursued the campaign of annihilation in the name of the Cojuangcos and in the name of its rabid anti-Left campaign and incorrigible national security doctrine,” said Lito Bais, spokesperson of Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU).

Bais said the Hacienda Luisita massacre was a political accommodation and political reward for the Cojuangcos for supporting President Arroyo’s reelection bid in May 2004 elections, before the two political clans parted ways in 2005 when the Hello Garci election fraud scandal rocked the Arroyo administration.

The agricultural labor leader recalled that Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas ordered the violent dispersal of striking farmworkers on Nov.16 on behalf of the Cojuangco family through the much abused pro-landlord and pro-capitalist tool known as Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ). Bais said the order was echoed by spokesperson of Hacienda Luisita management to justify the bloody massacre as a “legitimate exercise of state power,” saying the work stoppage was “illegal and left-inspired.

On Nov. 6, 2004, farm workers went on strike and demanded the reinstatement of some 327 unionists, including nine union leaders, who were fired ten days earlier by the management of the hacienda and the sugar mill –Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT).

This morning, some 50 supporters of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers identified with the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list trooped to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to begin the 10-day commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita massacre.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente led activists in lighting candles, offered prayers and delivered fiery speeches in the memory of Hacienda Luisita massacre victims.

Both leaders declared that Hacienda Luisita belongs to Hacienda Luisita farm workers and that is about time the Cojuangco family relinquish the hacienda to the collective and effective control of farm workers.

The KMP and Anakpawis leaders told Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” 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, the Hacienda Luisita which his family refused to yield to farmworkers belongs to the collective ownership of hacienda workers and its transfer to farm workers is nearly a century overdue.

“Sen. Aquino should learn the history of Hacienda Luisita and stop making the usual run-around. It is time for the Aquino family to say goodbye to the sprawling 6,453 hectare sugar estate that does not really belong them and was acquired through dubious, manipulative and coercive means,” both said in a joint statement.

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. But later the management denied that such eviction order exists, and clarified that was issued was an order asking farmworkers to enlist on or before Nov.15 for proper identification of Hacienda Luisita workforce and agrarian reform beneficiaries

In response to the Oct. 30 deadline, some 50 supporters of Hacienda Luisita farm workers issued their own cease and desist order against the management and delivered their notice to the Cojuangco business building in Makati City.

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. #

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