By Chocolate Moose Fernandez
Manila, Philippines- Leftwing activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation and the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) on Wednesday said an “undeclared Martial Law in Hacienda Luisita is in effect following the fresh deployment of Army troops and paramilitary troops inside the sprawling 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino.
In a joint press statement, leaders of the militant groups said Hacienda Luisita has turned into a “mini Maguindanao of Central Luzon” with the combined government troops and members of Cafgus conducting day-to-day harassment against the striking workers of the sugar plantation.
KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has deployed over 200 Cafgus, in addition to regular Army troops currently maintaining military outposts in several barangays inside Hacienda Luisita.
“A de facto Martial Law exists in Hacienda Luisita courtesy of Malacanang and the National Security Council headed by defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez. The deployment of Army and Cafgus on regular basis and on combative mode suggests what Palace has in mind right now—the Maguindanaonization of Hacienda Luisita,” the KMP leader added.
For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged President Arroyo and top military officials of the government to immediately pullout the military and paramilitary troops currently deployed to monitor and harass the protesting farmworkers, adding that the land dispute inside Hacienda Luisita does not require the presence of government troops or Cafgus inside the Cojuangco sugar estate.
“There’s no invasion, no rebellion and no state of lawlessness in Hacienda Luisita. What’s going on there is the collective assertion of striking farmworkers of their rights to land and quest for social justice,” added Hicap.