Poll bets ganging up Villar, but silent on Hacienda Luisita row

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Cherry de Belen and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines- A group of activist fishermen supportive of the cause of striking farm workers in Hacienda Luisita lamented that many presidential candidates are busy attacking one of the front runners– Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential candidate Manny Villar but scoreless and clueless on issues pertaining to the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of Liberal Party (LP) presidential standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon ” Noynoy” Aquino III.

In a press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged presidential candidates who usually attack the NP presidential bet to tackle and discuss their position this time on Hacienda Luisita including but not limited the demand for the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of the sugar plantation to 10,000 farmworker beneficiaries.

“Some presidential bets and their political sidekicks continue to attack Mr. Villar, but obviously silent on the issue of Hacienda Luisita. Are they afraid of Noynoy and the feudal aristocracy of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan? Do they believe farm workers have attained land and justice for their five decade more struggle inside the sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino?” asked Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader noted national candidates like former President Joseph Estrada and his senatorial bet Juan Ponce Enrile of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and independent candidate Senator Jamby Madrigal are active in demolishing the presidential bid of Villar, but extremely silent on the issue of Luisita involving Sen.Aquino and his family.

“Since the election campaign started on Feb.9, Noynoy and his sisters, members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan and their partners in crime in the civil society have been engaged in day-to-day distortion of truth about Hacienda Luisita. But critics of Villar never lift a finger to tell Noynoy and his camp to stop fooling the people and the general public and proceed with land distribution. And this political development is not only puzzling and mind boggling. It is extremely dangerous,” said Hicap.

“Why members of the anti-Villar syndicate are not taking up the issue of Hacienda Luisita and the massacre of 7 farm workers? That is really a major puzzle in election campaign. While the issues ranged against Villar could be valid or just mere black propaganda, still these are issues that should be addressed by the Villar camp. However, the anti-Villar crusaders still owe the public, the electorate and the Hacienda Luisita folks a honest-to-goodness explanation how they remain silent on Noynoy and Hacienda Luisita,” the Pamalakaya official said.

Before the weekend, militant farmer groups led by striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita staged a 30-vehicle caravan from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon City to the Supreme Court in Manila to ask the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued in 2006 before the May 10 presidential elections and allow the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and DAR to proceed with the distribution of 6,453-hectare sugar plantation to 10,000 farmer worker beneficiaries.

The caravan was led by Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and they delivered a two-page letter of appeal billed “Let the Promise of Land and Justice Reign in Hacienda Luisita” which asked SC Chief Justice Reynato Puno and 14 other justices to recall the TRO, revoke the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and order DAR to immediately proceed with the distribution of Cojuangco-Aquino sugar plantation.

In their letter of appeal signed by Lito Bais, acting president of ULWU, Wilfredo Marbella of KMP and Joseph Canlas of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers said the Supreme Court has yet to act on the motion filed by their lawyers asking the high tribunal to immediately lift the TRO, revoke the SDO and compel DAR to proceed with the free distribution of Luisita lands to farmworker beneficiaries.

The Luisita farmworkers asserted the TRO granted by the high court against the revocation of SDO was further used and abused by the Cojuangco-Aquino and the Luisita management to further exploit and oppress the farmworkers.

“Honorable Chief Justice, on the ground, cohorts and henchmen of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan are doing the dirty jobs for the feudal lords of Hacienda Luisita to fortify land control. The Cojuangco-Aquino corporation established the Luisita Estate Management (LEM) to supervise and administer the day-to-day affairs of the sugar estate. The LEM has also tolerated the terrorizing presence of government troops and Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) conducting round-the-clock surveillance and harassment of leaders and members of farmworkers’ groups,” the groups said.

Anakpawis party list said the LEM has been disposing hectares of lands to commercial banks like the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and other foreign commercial enterprises also had acquired hectares of the disputed sugar lands despite the TRO issued by the high court in 2006.

“The questionable entities sprouting like mushrooms inside Luisita have been constructing fences as if Luisita has been divided among them in the name of private property and their private security guards chasing away farmworkers who want to cultivate idle lands either for meager income or subsistence livelihood,” Anakpawis noted.

The 10,000 Hacienda Luisita farmworker beneficiaries believed the high tribunal is politically, constitutionally and morally obliged to correct a glaring fatal decision that justified the issuance of TRO on Stock Distribution Option, the effects of such judicial action further contributed to the long-running and intensifying campaign of injustice and landlessness in Hacienda Luisita.

“Honorable Chief Justice Puno and the 14 other members of the high tribunal, once again, we appeal to your sense of justice. Lift the TRO and allow PARC and DAR to proceed with the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the 10,000 farmer beneficiaries,” they said. #

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3 Comments

Filed under agrarian reform, corruption, elections, human rights, mind-boggling people, politics

3 responses to “Poll bets ganging up Villar, but silent on Hacienda Luisita row

  1. Maria Elizabeth Embry

    Please visit:
    http://www.gopetition.com/online/35733.html

    to sign the Petition to the Supreme Court of the Philippines to Lift TRO Re: Hacienda Luisita

    We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitang Luzon (AMGL) in appealing to the Honorable Chief Justice Reynato Puno and to the other members of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued in June 2006 upon the petition of the Cojuangco family that prevented the government from distributing the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

    We declare that in December 2005, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) issued an order revoking the stock distribution option (SDO) agreement between Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the farm workers. The same directive ordered that the property be parceled out among the workers.

    Therefore, we the undersigned, respectfully appeal to our justices’ sense of truth, justice, and accountability to allow the government to distribute the Luisita land to the farmworker-beneficiaries.

    Justice delayed is Justice denied

    LIFT TRO HDA LUISITA

    Published by Maria Elizabeth Embry on Apr 24, 2010
    Category: Justice
    Region: GLOBAL
    Target: Supreme Court of the Philippines
    Background (Preamble):
    The Central Bank Monetary Board resolution from 1957 required distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s land to small farmers within 10 years. When 1967 came and went with no land distribution taking place, the farm workers began to organize themselves to uphold their cause.
    A case was filed on May 7, 1980 by the Marcos government against the Cojuangco company TADECO for the surrender of Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, so land could be distributed to the farmers at cost, in accordance with the terms of the government loans given in 1957-1958 to the late Jose Cojuangco, Sr., who died in 1976. (Republic of the Philippines vs. TADECO, Civil Case No. 131654, Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch XLIII)
    On January 16, 1986, (Cory) Aquino delivered her second major speech in Davao and said, “Land-to-the-tiller must become a reality, instead of an empty slogan.”
    In the same speech, Aquino also said, “You will probably ask me: Will I also apply it to my family’s Hacienda Luisita? My answer is yes.”
    The snap elections took place on February 7, 1986. Marcos was declared winner, but was ousted by the People Power revolution. Cory Aquino was sworn in as President on February 25, 1986.
    On January 22, 1987, eleven months into the Aquino administration, the Mendiola massacre happened. Thousands of frustrated farmers marched to Malacañang demanding fulfillment of the promises made regarding land reform during the Aquino campaign, and distribution of lands at no cost to beneficiaries. At least a dozen protesters were killed in the violent dispersal. More were seriously injured.
    The Stock Distribution Option (SDO) was a clause in the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that allowed landowners to give farmers shares of stock in a corporation instead of land. The landlords then arranged to own majority share in the corporations, to stay in control. This went against the spirit of land reform, which is to give “land to the tiller”.
    On May 18, 1988, the Court of Appeals dismissed the case filed in 1980 by the Philippine government—under Marcos—against the Cojuangco company TADECO to compel the handover of Hacienda Luisita. It was the Philippine government itself—under Aquino—that filed the motion to dismiss its own case against TADECO, saying the lands of Hacienda Luisita were going to be distributed anyway through the new agrarian reform law.
    A month after the case was dismissed, on June 10, 1988, Aquino signed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Soon after, Hacienda Luisita was put under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that Aquino included in the law. Through the SDO, landlords could comply with the land reform law without giving land to farmers.
    On May 9, 1989, Luisita’s farm workers were asked to choose between stocks or land in a referendum. The SDO won 92.9% of the vote. A second referendum and information campaign were held on October 14, 1989, and again the SDO won, this time by a 96.75% vote.
    Luisita’s SDO agreement spelled out a 30-year schedule for transferring stock to the farm workers:
    “At the end of each fiscal year, for a period of 30 years, the SECOND PARTY (HLI) shall arrange with the FIRST PARTY (TADECO) the acquisition and distribution to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers) on the basis of number of days worked and at no cost to them of one-thirtieth (1/30) of 118,391,976.85 shares of the capital stock of the SECOND PARTY (HLI) that are presently owned and held by the FIRST PARTY (TADECO), until such time as the entire block of 118,391,976.85 shares shall have been completely acquired and distributed to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers).”
    About 5 years after the SDO was implemented, management began to claim that HLI was losing money. The farm workers’ wages plateaued and their work days were cut.
    Meanwhile, a mall and industrial park were sprouting on the portion of the hacienda closest to McArthur Highway. Losing money but building a mall? the farmers brooded. Something was up.
    Conversion—the real plan
    On September 1, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tarlac passed a resolution reclassifying 3,290 out of Luisita’s 4,915 hectares from agricultural to commercial, industrial, and residential. The governor of Tarlac province at that time was Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. Out of the 3,290 reclassified hectares, 500 were approved for conversion by the DAR.
    As land was being converted, the area left for farming grew smaller and smaller. More work days were cut, and wages were practically frozen. Mechanization also reduced the need for manual labor.
    Mass retrenchment
    By 2003, the farm workers’ daily wage was down to P194.50 (P9.50 after deductions for salary loans and other items), and work days were down to 1 per week.
    They finally saw the futility of having four board seats against management’s seven (the SDO agreement allotted 4 board seats to the farm workers ahead of the 30-year waiting period for their stocks). They were always going to be outvoted. They also feared that their board representatives could easily be manipulated because they were not as well-versed as management in corporate matters.
    The SDO had to go, they concluded.
    The union leaders scrabbled together a petition to revoke the SDO and stop land conversion in Luisita. It was signed by 5,339 farm workers and filed at the Department of Agrarian Reform on December 4, 2003. In July 2004, the union tried to negotiate a wage increase to P225 per day. They also asked for an increase in work days to 2-3 days per week. Management said no, saying the company was losing money.
    Management then issued notices retrenching 327 farm workers effective October 1, 2004. A month later came the workers’ strike, then the massacre.
    Under pressure from public outrage over the November 2004 massacre, the Arroyo
    administration, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), formed Task Force Stock Distribution on November 25, 2004 to study the causes of the workers’ strike. The Task
    Force was later renamed Task Force Luisita. In March 2005, teams were sent by the DAR to Luisita’s 10 barangays to investigate the SDO.
    the DAR’s Task Force Luisita submitted the findings and recommendations of its
    investigation. This formed the basis for the government’s decision a few months later to revoke Luisita’s Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and order the distribution of the hacienda’s land to the farmers.On December 23, 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) formally ordered
    Luisita’s SDO revoked, and its lands put under compulsory acquisition.
    But the Cojuangco family would not give up the land without a fight. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was obtained from the Supreme Court by June 2006 preventing PARC from revoking the SDO and distributing Hacienda Luisita’s land. This TRO has been in force for more than three years now.
    Source: gmanews.tv/story/181877 published in four series
    By STEPHANIE DYCHIU 01/18/2010

    pls forward to family & friends, post @facebook, twitter, etc.

    Sincerely,
    Maria Elizabeth Embry
    Antioch Ca

    Pls. Sign the petition

  2. rose

    maliban sa kumpas ng CIA at malakanyang, masyadong halata na ginigiya ang bira kay Villar nina Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco dahil pamangkin at suportado niya si Noynoy, kakampi niya sina Erap at Enrile at si Lacson , dahil tauhan niya ang girlfriend ni Noynoy at alaga rin niya si Chiz Escudero na aminado namang malapit kay Estrada at “palaki” ni Danding sa Nationalist People’s Coalition!

  3. Maria Elizabeth Embry

    KUNG WALANG KAMKAM, WALANG HACIENDA LUISITA MASAKER VICTIMS

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