Category Archives: agrarian reform

SORA pits vs. Aquino’s SONA

By Bianca Jing Bajing Jing and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Farmer groups led by the peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation, the Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) delivered their own State of the Nation Address (SONA) dubbed as State of the Rural Address (SORA) on the eve of the 1st SONA of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino.

About 2,000 farmers, peasant women, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and indigenous people listened to SORA led by KMP national spokesperson Antonio Flores.

In his 10-minute SORA speech, Flores told Aquino that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)and its five-year extended version the CARP with reforms remained a comprehensive failure and perpetual agrarian disaster to millions of landless farmers all over the country.

“If Noynoy wants to perform in accordance with national interest he would announce the immediate and free distribution of hacienda lands like the 6,435-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, the 7,100 Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City and the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas to mention a few. If he do this, then we will have progressive future for seven out of 10 Filipino farmers who don’t have lands,” the KMP spokesman said in his SORA.

The SORA delivered by Flores also asked Aquino to immediately prosecute former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for high crimes and corruption, scrap the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, dismantle death squads which are still maintained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and pull out deployed government troops in areas of agrarian disputes.

Flores likewise informed President Aquino on the demand of relatives of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to prosecute Arroyo’s military and security officials involved in political killings and abductions. Some of those he mentioned during the SORA were former defense secretary Norberto Gonzalez and former Army general Jovito Palparan.

“SORA is the real state of the rural people as far as our groups are concerned and our SORA is authentic, based on day-to-day experience and struggle for daily survival,” the KMP leader said.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap rejected the plea of President Aquino to hold their rally inside the Quezon City Memorial Circle in Eliptical Road, instead of pushing their way near the Batasan in time for Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“Excuse us, but we are going to the main capital not to stage a street party and hail the Aquino administration to high heaven. We are going to Manila to present the real state of the people which is free from any shade of illusion,” Hicap said.

“Mr. Aquino is barely a month on office, but this 50-year old bachelor politician is leading us to another authoritarian or police state by confining us to a 10-hectare park where no one could see or hear us but a handful of park goers,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap said Aquino should allow protesters to get near the Batasan complex and express the people’s agenda and true state of the nation address rather than bar them from getting near Congress and put them inside the Quezon City park like prisoners seeking fresh air and the warm of the sun.

“Our farmers, fisherfolk and the other rural people will come from as far as Quezon province. They don’t deserve this kind of treatment from Mr.Aquino, they are coming to push free land distribution and justice and tell the Aquino clique that these things are non-negotiable. Definitely they are here on SONA day to make a difference and not to join any Palace led street party,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin said the official response of President Aquino so far was the violent demolition of peasant camp-out in Mendiola Bridge and the dispersal of striking farmers on July 3 that led to the mass arrest of 42 farmer activists and the injury of 13 other Southern Tagalog activists.

“ So far this is the concrete step taken by Aquino as far as the agrarian issues surrounding Hacienda Yulo is concerned and for the farmers the act is simply incorrigible and extremely reprehensible,” the Kasama-TK official said.

At least seven cases of agrarian disputes mostly from Southern Tagalog region were presented on July 16 to newly installed Agrarian reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes.

Among the land dispute cases involving land use conversions, cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and eviction of farmer beneficiaries include the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas which has been primed for eco-tourism projects and the 7,100 hectare prime agricultural land in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna province.

The other cases of agrarian disputes presented during the dialogue with DAR secretary include land reform reversals and land use conversions in Dasmarinas and Silang in Cavite province, the seedling projects in Montalban, Rizal and the conversion of Araneta owned lands in Barangay Tungkong Mangga in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

“The Southern Tagalog region has become the laboratory for land reform reversals, land reform denials and land use conversions since the Calabarzon days of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of prime agricultural lands have been subjected to automatic control of big landlords and were primed for land use conversions at the expense of land reform beneficiaries and other land tillers across the region,” said Kasama-TK

Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, KMP said as of December 2006, DAR has cancelled at least 108,141 CLOAs and Emancipation Patents (EPs) involving 204,579 hectares. CLOA and EP cancellations are increased by 3,790% from 1995 data of 2,780, while land area increased by 1,162% from 16, 213 hectares. Of the cancellations, majority or 87% were due to subdivision of mother-CLOAs into individual CLOAs. It involved about 82% of the lands to 167,486 hectares.#

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

Land disputes hound Manila’s new agrarian chief

By Roy Morilla and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- At least seven cases of agrarian disputes mostly from Southern Tagalog region were presented today to newly installed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes. In a dialogue with Secretary delos Reyes, the Southern Luzon based peasant group Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and its mother federation- the activist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the farmer groups asked the new DAR chief to act swiftly on cases pertaining to land use conversions and cancellations of agrarian reform titles in the region.

Among the land dispute cases involving land use conversions, cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and eviction of farmer beneficiaries include the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas which has been primed for eco-tourism projects and the 7,100 hectare prime agricultural land in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna province.

The other cases of agrarian disputes presented during the dialogue with DAR secretary include land reform reversals and land use conversions in Dasmarinas and Silang in Cavite province, the seedling projects in Montalban, Rizal and the conversion of Araneta owned lands in Barangay Tungkong Mangga in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin asked the new agrarian reform secretary to immediately issue cease and desist orders to big landlords and real estate developers to effectively halt all land use conversions and indefinitely suspend all these activities to prepare the stage for a comprehensive review of these lands currently embroiled in legal, political and moral disputes between the farmers and the big landlords in Southern Tagalog region.

“The Southern Tagalog region has become the laboratory for land reform reversals, land reform denials and land use conversions since the Calabarzon days of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of prime agricultural lands have been subjected to automatic control of big landlords and were primed for land use conversions at the expense of land reform beneficiaries and other land tillers across the region,” Pinpin noted.

Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said as of December 2006, DAR has cancelled at least 108,141 CLOAs and Emancipation Patents (EPs) involving 204,579 hectares. CLOA and EP cancellations are increased by 3,790% from 1995 data of 2,780, while land area increased by 1,162% from 16, 213 hectares. Of the cancellations, majority or 87% were due to subdivision of mother-CLOAs into individual CLOAs. It involved about 82% of the lands to 167,486 hectares.

The KMP leader also cited a report filed by Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo Foundation (SENTRA), the lawyers group that handles agrarian cases including Hacienda Luisita. Flores said that of the 205 agrarian cases from Central Luzon,Southern Tagalog, Northern Luzon, Bicol and Panay regions, about half came from Southern Tagalog, mostly from Batangas reaching to 54 cases.

Flores lamented that farmers tend to lose the case at DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB), Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Supreme Court (SC) even material evidences are sufficient but opposed to big landlords such as Zobel-Ayalas, Roxas, Yulos, Aranetas, Cojuangcos, Puyat family, big-time real-estate developers as Henry Sy, Sobrepenas, and traditional politicians as the Revillas, Remullas, Enriles, Mitras, Villafuerte. The farmers are also against foreign corporations such as Kuok Properties; including traditional and despotic landlords in the remote rural areas in the country such as the Dolors and Lopezes of Batangas, Don Domingo Reyes of Quezon, among many others.

“The DAR secretary should be daring enough to oppose big and influential landlords as the provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with `Reforms’ (CARPer) are on their side. If he continues to serve their side, his stay at the department would be restless and he should expect more and more protests in front of his office,” Flores said. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform, human rights, politics

Manila police clears Aquino on Mendiola dispersal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Mudra Amparo and Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines- Manila police chief district GeneralRodolfo Magtibay had insisted that he ordered the violent demolition of protest camp-out structures set by striking farm workers of Hacienda Luisita and peasant activists in Southern Tagalog and the mass arrest of 41 farmers as Magtibay assured the public Malacanang had nothing to do with what leftwing groups first violent disperal under the Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III administration.

“To General Magtibay, we have this short message for your day-to-day consumption— tell that to the marines”, said Antonio Flores, leader of of the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), one of the organizers of the 100 days of peasant camp-out for land and justice. On Saturday, some 200 operatives of the Manila Police District (MPD) in cooperation with the city engineering office of the Manila City hall forcibly demolished the makeshift camp-out protest structure set by protesting farmers in Don Chino Roces bridge and arrested 38 farmer activists.

About a dozen of those arrested in Mendiola were women identified with the Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK). Another set of 44 farmers and their supporters who followed their arrested colleagues to the MPD headquarters in UN Avenue to assist and provide immediate paralegal services were also dispersed, three of them were also arrested, while not less than 15 farmers were injured and brought to the nearest hospital for treatment.

“Gen. Magtibay is engaged in a major cover up and political foul play. The order to disperse the farmers came from the Office of the President or anyone who is a close associate of President Aquino,” added Flores. ” Let me remind this police officer that three days before the dispersal, a Palace staff who received the sets of demands from Hacienda Luisita farmers, from Kasama-TK and KMP told us that Malacanang would get angry with Gen. Magtibay if he will continue to allow us to hold the 100 day camp out in Mendiola Bridge,” the KMP official said.

The KMP official said Magtibay was compelled to follow the “chain of command” and that is to follow any order from Aquino how illegal and immoral such order is. “Since Magtibay’s police career is at stake, the police general has no choice but to swallow Aquino’s order, play the usual brutal and mercenary role in the name of the brutal, pro-landord and fascist presidency of Mr. Aquino,” the peasant leader added.

The KMP said the 100-days peasant camp-out was also organized by KasamaTK, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation and the left-leaning fisherfolk aliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

According to KMP, the 100-days peasant camp out was meant to present to Aquino lists of peasant demands that include the immediate prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of corruption particularly referring to the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam, the urgent and unconditional free distribution of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita and the investigation of agrarian disputes in Southern Tagalog particularly the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna.

“Mr. Aquino like his predecessor Mrs.Arroyo is an ultimate anti-peasant president. His display of extreme brutality as shown by the equally brutal dispersal of striking farmers reminds the public that he and his family will not give up Hacienda Luisita and other farm lands controlled by big landlords, corporate giants and warlords all over the country,” said Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin.

“We thought we are dealing with a new administration with full of hopes and promies, but just the same Aquino is just an Arroyo trapped in a man’s body. What he did to us is grossly unacceptable and higly condemnable,” the Kasama-TK added.

On Saturday, hours after the arrest, the 41 farmers arrested by MPD police were released upon the intercession of lawyers Atty. Jobert Pahilga and Atty. Jules Matibag of Sentra Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) respectively. The released farmers were brought to Caritas Manila in Pandacan, Manila where they were allowed to stay until Sunday night. Pinpin of Kasama-TK said the farmers in Southern Tagalog and the Hacienda Luisita farm workers will remain in the National Capital Region (NCR) up to the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

The Kasama-TK official said farmers Southern Tagalog had also prepared a petition to the Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima urging the newly installed justice secretary to withdraw all trumped up charges filed against regional peasant and multisectoral leaders in the region particularly those cases filed in Rizal, Batangas and Quezon by the Armed Forces of the Phillippines during the Arroyo administration.

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

Manila’s high court asked to stop 2 presidents from converting lands

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bombshell Moran and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-Leftwing fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said theSupreme Court ruling upholding the ban imposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) two years ago on land use conversion of agricultural lands should cover the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” AquinoIII and the 157 Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental owned by the family of former President and now Pampanga (2nd district) Rep.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said aside from Hacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan owned by the families of President Aquino and ex-President Arroyo respectively, the high tribunal ruling against land use conversion should also cover other big cases of land grabbing and land-use conversions like the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna.

“The DAR has no choice but to stop and scrap the planned land use conversions in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Bacan, Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Yulo. There should be special treatment to Aquino and Arroyo and the landed feudal aristocracies in the country. Their lands should be subjected to immediate, unconditional and free distribution to farmer beneficiaries,” Hicap stressed.

The Pamalakaya official pressed President Aquino and Rep. Arroyo to heed to the Supreme Court ruling against land use conversion and allow DAR to take over their lands and have it distributed for free to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Aquino and Arroyo are legally bound to honor the high court ruling. They must give up their immoral and illegal control onHacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan respectively,” said Hicap.

Quoting a report from peasant NGO– Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), the Pamalakaya leader noted that from 6 million hectares of rice lands the country had, the coverage was reduced to 4 million hectares due to land use conversions. Hicap said in Cavite alone, from 1989 to 1993, irrigated rice land fell from 14,710 hectares to 12,800 hectares due to land use conversions. Recently, the DAR placed 217 hectares of rice land known as Tropical Land in Cavite for land use conversion.

“The ban on land use conversion should be effectively implemented to stop this anarchic land use conversions and destructions of rice lands and other prime agricultural lands. To set the record straight, the DAR itself is the main instrument in enforcing land use conversions. From 1988 to 1997, a total of 129, 467 hectares of land were converted for other purposes and in Cagayan Valley around 442, 648 hectares,” said Pamalakaya.

In a ruling issued last June 18, the high court’s First Division unanimously agreed that the DAR was right to impose a moratorium at the time when the country was suffering from global rice crisis. The SC dismissed the petition filed by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Associations (Creba), an umbrella organization of 3,500 companies and individuals in the real estate business. The real estate group questioned Memorandum No. 88 issued by then Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

Manila’s high court orders review of Luisita case

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Queen Shawn Dok and Lady Michelle Adobe

MANILA, Philippines-Striking farm workers in Hacienda Luisita and close allies in and out of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate owned by the family of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino welcomed on Monday the order of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to have the agrarian row reviewed by the high tribunal.

“The order for review is a welcome news that’s why we are welcoming it. We hope this won’t be the beginning of another false start. We hope this is the beginning of an end to a sugar coated reign and long-running feudal exploitation inside Hacienda Luisita,” the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa Sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Amihan peasant women federation and the left leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a joint statement in reaction to Chief Justice recent order for a review on the Hacienda Luisita land row case.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the review should end on a positive note with the lifting of temporary restraining order and the high tribunal would decide for an urgent and unconditional free distribution of lands to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries.

“Chief Justice Corona is lawfully, politically and morally obliged to lead the other 14 justices to decide the Hacienda Luisita case in favor of farm workers and their striving and starving families. Social justice should not be compromise for any kind of political accommodation and elite oriented political reconciliation. I guess this is clear with Corona and the 14 associate justices,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos for his part said it is still a long way to go even if Chief Justice Corona has issued the order. For a fresh start of the Corona led Supreme Court, the peasant leader asked Corona and other justices to put Hacienda Luisita ahead of other unfinished businesses the high court will accomplish this year.

“The case of Hacienda Luisita is the most controversial and the most politically charged case among the cases being reviewed by the high tribunal for judicial disposition. This should be prioritized and should be decided in the name of the collective interest of farm workers in particular and the Filipino public in general,” Ramos added.

Earlier Pamalakaya told the Supreme Court that the 10,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries inside the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino were not asking for preferential treatment from the Supreme Court as far as the farm workers legal battle in the high tribunal is concerned.

“Please allow us to correct the Chief Justice, the 14 other justices and the spokesperson of the Supreme Court. The farm workers of Hacienda Luisita are not asking for preferential treatment. What they are asking is social justice based on free distribution of lands which was denied to them for several decades by the feudal aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino and their partners in crime in previous administrations,” said Pamalakaya.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk group is one of the signatories to a letter of appeal sent to Chief Justice Renato Corona last week urging the high tribunal to resolve the Hacienda Luisita land case, as well as other high profile land cases including but not limited to the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City, Laguna and the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

In 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman revoked the SDO scheme due to complaints by members of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA) that it has become disadvantageous for the farmers.

In order to avoid the property from being placed under the land distribution scheme under CARP, the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) immediately filed a petition before the high tribunal in February 2006 seeking the nullification of the order recalling the SDO agreement between the hacienda owners and 5,498 farmers.

On June 10 farm workers from Hacienda Luisita by UMA and KMP including other supporters and advocates submitted a letter of appeal asking the Supreme Court to act with dispatch and resolve the controversial agrarian case of Hacienda Luisita in favor of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling favored the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino. It is in the highest interest of the Filipino people and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to end this long-running feudal reign and exploitation with the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries,” the three page letter of appeal stated.

The high court was also asked to look into high profile cases of land reform reversals and big time denials of peasant land rights in Southern Tagalog region.

The farmer groups were referring to the case of farmers in Hacienda Looc involving 8,650 hectare of prime agricultural lands, which was previously placed under land reform program but was reversed by the Department of Agrarian Reform to pave way for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, a sister company of SM Holdings Inc. and Fil-Estate Realty Corporation, and the 7,100 hectare property in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City, Laguna.

The groups maintained these land reform reversal will lead to the evictions of thousands of families in farming families in Nasugbu, Batangas and Calamba, Laguna and their wholesale displacement from their farmlands and principal source of living.

“Such land reform reversal policy of the state exempting commercial farms and expanding with coverage for exemptions that now include coconut lands has become a long running nightmare for millions of landless farmers and still land seeking farmer beneficiaries across the country”, the groups said. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

Aquino flirting with Arroyo, critics charge

By Bb. Joyce Cabral, Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today warned President proclaimed Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to refrain from engaging in either open or discreet political flirtation with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, saying the national interest and demand for truth and justice of the Filipino people should prevail over narrow factional interests and politics of accommodation.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said he was very worry over the turn of events that led to the proclamation of Aquino as the 15th President of the Republic.

The activist fisherfolk leader recalled that Aquino issued recent a statement that he was accepting Palace offer for smooth transition of power by June 30 and that Aquino received a phone call from Mrs. Arroyo congratulating him for winning the presidential derby in the last May 10 elections and that Mrs. Arroyo offered to tour the 50-year old bachelor president in Malacanang anytime Aquino at any given time before June 30.

“Mr. Aquino is a certified political flirt. And our worry is that his game of political flirtation would result to horse trading and political accommodation at the expense of public interest and collective sentiment of the Filipino people which is the urgent and unconditional prosecution of Arroyo over charges of crimes against humanity, election fraud and top notch corruption offenses,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap said.

The militant group wondered why Aquino became silent on his plan to form a truth commission which will probe scores of scandals that rocked the Arroyo administration over the last 9 nine years which include the series of extrajudicial killings and other grave human rights violations committed against political activists and critics of the previous administration.

“So what’s the truth about this Truth Commission? The US installed Aquino presidency should tell the truth and nothing but the truth about this truth commission hyped by the Aquino camp at the height of the May 10 presidential campaign season,” said Pamalakaya.

During his campaign in Alaminos, Pangasinan, Aquino said many people were volunteering to join the Truth Commission which he promised to establish to prosecute Arroyo on charges of big time corruption and human rights violations.

Pamalakaya recalled that Aquino promised to investigate scandals in Arroyo administration including the Hello Garci scandal in 2005, the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam, the $ 328.49 ZTE scandal and the scores of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by state security forces under Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged Aquino on first day in office to come up with a presidential executive order declaring the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries within his first 100 days in office.

“Noynoy should face this issue fair and square in his first 100 days office. He should not evade the issues pertaining to Luisita and act like long-running political escape artist. An executive order can take place at any given time between 9 am to 5 pm at any given working day in Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group noticed that the ongoing dispute of Hacienda Luisita was not among the issues Aquino included in his first order of business on July 1, the newly elected president’s first working day in office.

In an interview with reporters, President elect Aquino said among the issues his administration would attend to were the problems he would inherit from outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from budget deficit to speeding up of prosecution of criminal and other cases filed against President Arroyo and other government officials of the outgoing administration.

“To Mr. Aquino and company we dare ask—how do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita? This issue is a matter of life and death and they cannot escape this political calling searching an end to landlessness, exploitation and injustice inside the 6,543-hectare Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate,” Pamalakaya said. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform, corruption, elections, human rights, politics

Hacienda Luisita out in Aquino’s first order of business

By Lady Michelle Adobe, Queen Shawn Dok and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Newly proclaimed 15th President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III was asked by the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) why the resolution of the land dispute inside the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita was not listed among the urgent problems the Aquino administration should resolve in the first 100 days of the 50-year old elected official.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said President Aquino should immediately confront the issue of 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries demanding the urgent and unconditional free distribution of 6,453-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac province.

“The resolution of decades old agrarian dispute inside Hacienda Luisita is big must for the Aquino administration. Noynoy should face this issue fair and square in his first 100 days office. He should not evade the issues pertaining to Luisita and act like long-running political escape artist,” the Pamalakaya official asserted.

Hicap noticed that the ongoing dispute of Hacienda Luisita was not among the issues Aquino included in his first order of business on July 1, the newly elected president’s first working day in office.

In an interview with reporters, President elect Aquino said among the issues his administration would attend to were the problems he would inherit from outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from budget deficit to speeding up of prosecution of criminal and other cases filed against President Arroyo and other government officials of the outgoing administration.

President Aquino also reaffirmed his commitment against regressive taxation like imposing a tax on text messages and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill as a legislative priority.

“To Mr. Aquino and company we dare ask—how do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita? This issue is a matter of life and death and they cannot escape this political calling searching an end to landlessness, exploitation and injustice inside the 6,543-hectare Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate,” the Pamalakaya official added.

Meanwhile, a composite of 50 peasant activists mainly Hacienda Luisita farm workers belonging to Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and from staunch allies Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Pamalakaya personally delivered a 2- page letter of appeal addressed to Chief Justice Corona.

KMP deputy secretary-general Willy Marbella said Chief Justice Corona and 14 other justices of the high tribunal anytime can lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it imposed against the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to place Hacienda Luisita under land reform and have the sugar estate distributed to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries.

“We humbly submit to your honorable office our appeal asking the Supreme Court to act with dispatch and resolve the controversial agrarian case of Hacienda Luisita in favor of agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Marbella said.

The two-page letter of appeal to Corona reads: “Dear Chief Justice, the honorable high court has yet to act on the collective interest of Hacienda Luisita farm workers to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the move of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to place the 6,453-hectare under land distribution to landless farm workers.”

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling favored the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino. It is in the highest interest of the Filipino people and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to end this long-running feudal reign and exploitation with the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries,” the farmer groups added.

In their appeal, the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) also asked the Chief Justice to let the high tribunal investigate high profile cases of land reform reversals and big time denials of peasant land rights in Southern Tagalog region.

Kasama-TK was referring to the case of farmers in Hacienda Looc involving 8,650 hectare of prime agricultural lands, which was previously placed under land reform program but was reversed by the Department of Agrarian Reform to pave way for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, a sister company of SM Holdings Inc. and Fil-Estate Realty Corporation.

According to Kasama-TK, the conversion of Hacienda Looc will lead to the evictions of 10,000 farming families in Nasugbu, Batangas and their wholesale displacement from their farmlands and principal source of living. Such land reform reversal policy of the state exempting commercial farms and expanding with coverage for exemptions that now include coconut lands has become a long running nightmare for millions of landless farmers and still land seeking farmer beneficiaries across the country.

Kasama-TK also told Chief Justice Corona the incident two weeks ago involving some 50 heavily armed men who stormed peasant villages in Hacienda Looc and tore down 21 houses of helpless farmers in vain attempt to terrorize the farming communities and force them to leave the lands they cultivated for generations. Another case which was mentioned in the letter of appeal is the case of Yulo Estate in Canlubang, Calamba City involving 7,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands which are coconut lands in nature.

“Honorable Chief Justice, also two weeks ago, armed goons about 50-60 of them swooped down a farming village inside the hacienda and dispersed a crowd of farmers who set up a protest camp out against the plan of the Yulo family to convert the estate into an industrial and commercial zone,” Kasama-TK added.

The dispersal resulted to the illegal arrest and detention of 11 people were arrested- three of them were minors and 1 was a 71-year old peasant woman, 8 others were charged with fabricated offenses and hundreds of their peasant colleagues were hurt. “Honorable chief Justice, perhaps it is time for the high court to take a decisive intervention on cases involving agrarian disputes all over the country.

“Many hacienda owners and their private partners are behaving extremely nowadays starting with Hacienda Luisita and recently Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba City, province of Laguna,” the farmer group said.

KMP said the continuing denial of peasant land rights and the left-and-right land reform reversals all over the archipelago are sending the high court a compelling signal to purse a thoroughgoing agrarian reform in aid of pro-people’s jurisprudence. We hope this letter of appeal would merit the attention of your honorable office and the offices of 14 other justices of the Supreme Court. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform, elections, politics