By Sarah Ann Ago and Bb. Joyce Cabral
MANILA, Philippines- While Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III is in cloud nine having been featured as cover of the latest edition of TIME Magazine, farm workers in the 6,453-hectare sugar estate Hacienda Luisita did not give premium to what they called an empty and cheap publicity stunt for the 50-year old presidential wannabe.
“Frankly speaking, this latest escapade of Noynoy appearing as poster boy or pin up boy of Time Magazine is no big deal as far as Hacienda Luisita farmworkers is concerned. All we want is Hacienda Luisita and justice to all victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre six years ago and not copies of Time Magazine. We don’t have the capacity to buy copies of Time Magazines and even if we have some money we would buy food instead of purchasing copies of Time Magazine and view the poker face of this feudal aristocrat. What we want is our land,” said Lito Bais, survivor of the 2004 massacre and acting president of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) an affiliate of Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
The LP standard bearer on Sunday said he was touched by Time Magazine’s decision to put him on the cover of its April 26 issue, adding that the article written about him had challenged to improve the country’s impoverished situation and resolutely fight graft and corruption in the country.
Bais, however, suggested to editors and local correspondents of Time Magazine to cover the 5-day long march of 500 Hacienda Luisita farmworkers which will start from Hacienda Luisita to Manila so they could have a clear picture of Aquino presidency in case the son of former President Corazon Aquino wins the presidential derby on May 10, 2010. The march, which is the second long march for this year regarding Hacienda Luisita, will cover main thoroughfares of Tarlac, San Fernando and Bulacan provinces on their way to the National Capital Region (NCR).
“It is time for Time Magazine to go deeper about the checkered records of Noynoy and his family and their unholy alliance with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that resulted to the full-blown denial of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers, the massacre of sugar workers and the injury of hundreds of their colleagues and supporters,” Bais stressed.
The activity dubbed Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan (March of the Toiling Masses for Land and Justice) will be co-organized by Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), UMA, Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, Anakpawis party list and the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).
Meanwhile, the 28 national council leaders of the 100,000 strong Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance today signed a political manifesto calling for the rejection of Aquino presidential bid in May 2010 polls.
“For us Senator Aquino is the female version of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He is a ruthless person passing himself off as a liberal politician and anti-graft crusader. He is anti-GMA reactionary but just the same he and his cabal of own gangsters are certified opportunists,” the group’s manifesto said. .
“Mr. Aquino has this very, very strong tendency to become a full-blown political monster and dictator among the 9 presidential wannabes seeking the highest elective post in the country today,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said.
Pamalakaya, a staunch ally of striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita said the bloody crimes of LP presidential bet and his landed family in connection with the continuing denial of land rights and injustice committed against Hacienda Luisita agricultural workers are non-negotiable and unpardonable.
“There will be not let up. We will squarely face this ambitious presidential animal and Rated -A opportunist politician even if he becomes the next President. There would be no political honeymoon and every day would be a day of exposition and opposition because Noynoy is Mrs. Arroyo trapped in a man’s body,” the militant group said.
“As far as we are concerned, Noynoy decided to run for President not to fight corruption in the government but to engage in bigger crimes of corruption, and one these crimes is to maintain their unlawful and immoral claim on Hacienda Luisita,” Pamalakaya said.
Pamalakaya noticed the people in Noynoy’s camp were the same people who worked with her mother the late President Corazon Aquino at the time the Aquino administration was setting the stage to place Hacienda Luisita under the controversial Stock Distribution Option (SDO).
“If our memory serves us right, Franklin Drilon was Aquino’s justice secretary and one time her labor secretary, and Mr. Butch Abad was her mother’s agrarian reform secretary. They were instrumental in keeping Hacienda Luisita in the “divine hands” of the Aquino feudal aristocracy. Now the same guys are with him and they are all in one party. Coincidence? We don’t think so and we believe they are really up for something big and extremely cruel,” the militant group said.
Drilon is seeking to comeback in the Senate as one of the candidates of LP, while Abad is part of the campaign machinery of LP standard bearer. Pamalakaya said those working and associated with Noynoy are the same people who flirted with and enjoyed juicy government positions during the first three to four years of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
“Majority of those in the Noynoy camp played beautiful music and even performed their roles to the hilt as cabinet members cum apologists of Mrs. Arroyo until they realized that their respective political careers and interests would go to disaster if they remain with the gangster group in Malacanang. They are all opportunists and their basis of unity is not to pursue politics of change but to share power among themselves in case Arroyo is bolted out from power,” the fishers’ alliance added.#