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Noynoy told: You can’t really sell Hacienda Luisita, it is not yours

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines-One of the groups supporting the fight of Hacienda Luisita workers expressed outrage on Tuesday over a controversial statement of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III that the family could have gained P 3.B in net profits from selling the large sugar plantation if his family did not care about the farmers and only care for their interests.

In a press statement, the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the Cojuangco-Aquino family has no right to claim ownership over the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation, and therefore has no right to dispose it to high bidders ad preferred clients of the Cojuangcos interested in acquiring the disputed land.

Aquino said the 4,500-hectare plantation could have been sold at P4.5 billion, with the real estate price of P100 per square meter. He said if his family decided to sell Hacienda Luisita, seventy percent of the proceeds will go the Cojuangco family or roughly P 3.15 billion, after payment of the company’s debts, adding at there would still be a big enough amount left in the family bank accounts.

“Noynoy and the landed aristocrats and oligarchs of the Cojuangco-Aquino landed mafia have no right to claim ownership over Hacienda Luisita. They should stop representing themselves as owners and benign proprietors of the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation. Hacienda Luisita belongs to generations of hardworking farm workers who were deprived of their rights to land by the passed on landed matriarchs and patriarchs of the exploiting Cojuangco clan,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said.

Hicap accused Sen. Aquino of misleading the Filipino public by trying to picture them as enlightened landlords in the countryside. “This presidential wannabe is a certified liar and a first-rate harbinger of lies and illusions. The farmers all over the country should reject this traditional politician and sugar-coated warlord in Central Luzon,” he said. According to Hicap, the Cojuangco-Aquino family acquired Hacienda Luisita through an endless campaign of coercion and deception on farm workers.

The Pamalakaya official said Noynoy should face the issues surrounding Hacienda Luisita fair and square and refrain from issuing statements that misrepresent or distort the real score in the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation that covers towns of Tarlac province.

Hicap stressed Hacienda Luisita should had been distributed to farmer beneficiaries in 1967 as part of the agreement between the Philippine government and the Cojuangco family in exchange for the P 7 million loan the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino obtained from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), aside from the 10-year loan acquired by the Cojuangcos from Manufacturer’s Trust Company in New York which was permitted by the Central Bank of the Philippines.

The loan obtained from New York and the GSIS loan were used by the Cojuangcos to buy the Hacienda Luisita from its former Spanish owners on the condition that the sugar estate will be awarded to farm workers in 1967 in pursuit of agrarian reform and social justice.

“Where is Noynoy’s sense of history and justice? He and his family are distorting everything to keep their unlawful and immoral control of Hacienda Luisita. Please do not vote for this political shenanigan in 2010. He poses extreme danger to the people,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Senator Aquino and other members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family should be declared illegal occupants and bogus owners of Hacienda Luisita. “In fact Aquino and Cojuangco clan should be charged of grave fraud and exploitation for transforming Hacienda Luisita farmworkers into long-time and long-running serfs over the last four decades. That is undeniably crime against humanity,” said Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the free distribution of 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm workers faces zero possibility in case Aquino wins the presidency in 2010. “Aquino and the Cojuangco clan will not relinquish their illegal and immoral control of Luisita. Noynoy will even use the presidency just like what his mother did to stop the farm workers from acquiring Luisita. It is all in the feudal mindset of the Cojuangcos and the rate things are going, even Noynoy sisters will cooperate to ensure gross denials of peasant land rights for another four to five decades or even a century more,” the group added.

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Groups urge Luisita workers to declare Dinky persona non grata

By Jayjay Jaiho and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Three militant groups supporting the striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita on Sunday urged farmworkers of the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino to declare persona non-grata former Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Hacienda Luisita based Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Soliman did not only distort the truth about the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre, she also prostituted history with her own fabricated facts and figures.

“She’s the no.1 political prostitute in the camp of Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III. She will move heaven and earth for the sake of a Noynoy presidency in 2010. This is unpardonable and totally revolting,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

“The struggling workers of Hacienda Luisita has no option but condemn this opportunist Noynoy puppet and tell her she is not welcome in Luisita as far as the farmworkers are concerned,” the Pamalakaya official added.

Soliman said the number of striking workers in Cojuangco-owned sugar estate five years ago were only 2 and not 7 as reported by media. The former social welfare chief the reports regarding the massacre were exaggerated, asserting that she only saw two bodies and did not see the other five dead bodies which media claimed as casualties in the Nov.16, 2004 carnage.

‘How can that be? Is she talking of another massacre perpetrated by her former boss –President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Where is her sense of truth, of accuracy and objectivity? She is lying, that’s the real score, she is lying to pursue this politically motivated gossip making against the memories of the martyrs in Hacienda Luisita massacre,” added Hicap.

Likewise Pamalakaya blasted the sister of Aquino—Viel Aquino-Dee for insisting that her family should not be blamed for the killings and that infiltrators from the leftist groups should be take the blame.

“She is a triple platinum liar. She can check the reports of the Senate Committee which investigated the case and the voluminous media reports that point to the military, their previous allies in Malacanang as perpetrators of the massacre, and after that let us see who is telling the truth, and who is lying, nothing more, nothing less,” the group added.

Pamalakaya, UMA and KMP last month 21 asked Senate President Juan Ponce- Enrile to re-open the investigation on the Hacienda Luisita massacre case.

“Will the Senate leadership under the Enrile presidency find time to re-open the long-running story of Hacienda Luisita massacre and the controversial SDO in the name of farmers’ right to land and social justice? Is there a guarantee from Enrile that he will re-open the still unresolved cases and issues surrounding the sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino family upon the request of Luisita farm workers?” the groups said in their joint statement.

“It is about time to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case. It will be moral and politically upright to have this case closed ahead of the 2010 elections with the resolution of the Nov.16, 2004 massacre and the free distribution of lands to 8,000 farmer beneficiaries and the punishment of those involved in the Nov.16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre,” the groups said. #

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Noynoy told: “Distribute Luisita now, not in 2014

By Makisig Corrales, Lala Lichugas and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines-Rural based militant groups on Wednesday told Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his family– the landlord Cojuangco-Aquino clan they should distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries now and not on 2014 as proposed by the front running presidential candidate.

In a manifesto signed by the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Amihan peasant women federation, Anakpawis party list, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Aquino was merely taking Luisita workers into a roller coaster ride by making them believe that the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has decided to yield effective control of the sugar estate to farm workers by 2014.

“Why wait for 2014 if they can relinquish their immoral and unlawful control of Hacienda Luisita anytime today, tomorrow or next week? We will not buy this gimmick. He is politically hurt by issues ranged against him on hacienda, and he just issued this eyebrow raising, jaw dropping statement to stop the dropping trend in his ratings at the electoral box-office”, said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in behalf of the groups.

At a press conference held in his family’s ancestral home in Concepcion, Tarlac, Noynoy told reporters that he had convinced members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to prepare for the turnover of the sugar estate to farm worker beneficiaries by June 2014.

Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said his principal is committed to distribute the land to farm worker beneficiaries at the end of the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carper). Lacierda stressed that the decision was made because of principle and not just a campaign promise.

“That’s baloney. Where’s the logic behind that promise? The free distribution of Hacienda Luisita should take place now. The 2014 agrarian deadline is highly questionable and grossly unacceptable,” added Ramos.

Before Congress recessed on Feb.5, leaders of UMA, ULWU and AMGL trooped to Senate and sent a letter of appeal urging Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case particularly the controversial Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which was sneaked in by former President Corazon Aquino to gain effective control of Luisita.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said said on June 8, 1989, Enrile, then Senate Minority Leader in his privilege speech questioned Executive Order 229 allowing Hacienda Luisita to evade distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers by signing EO 229 placing the entire sugar estate under SDO scheme where farmers become nominal stock holders instead of having physical possession of lands.

“Hacienda Luisita is a history of long-running deception by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. It is time to end this prime time and triple platinum betrayal of peasant interest and welfare,” he said.

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Noynoy siblings are stupid in blaming baby boom for Luisita workers sorry state

By Jay Cuesta, Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Gerry Albert Corpuz

Manila, Philippines- Four of the biggest rural-based organizations—the activist farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the peasant women federation Amihan and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) on Monday assailed the sisters of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III for blaming the lack of family planning among tenants and farm workers as the reason why poverty is widespread in the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate.

In a joint press statement, the groups said Noynoy sisters- Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Pinky Aquino Abelleda are politically arrogant, mentally disoriented and morally inept for putting the blame on farm workers lack of family planning as the ultimate cause of their poverty and sorry state.

“Noynoy and her sisters are twisting the truth and distorting the life and struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers. May the God of truth and justice teach these political bitches the lessons of a lifetime,” the groups said in their joint statement.

“More than 8,000 farm workers were denied of their rights to land. More than 8,000 farm workers were kept as slaves of the Cojuangco-Aquino family and that Luisita workers were compelled to believe that the P 9.50 per day salary for each worker is just in exchange for nominal ownership under the blasphemous Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme. This is stupid. Pinky and Ballsy are stupid political animals acting like feel good politicians,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Aquino sisters joined the LP delegation in Candelaria, Quezon on Sunday to meet supporters of their brother in the May 2010 presidential elections.

Cruz denied allegations that the management of Hacienda Luisita did not give farmer-shareholders their just share of over P80 million paid by the government for the 83-hectare right-of-way through the Luisita estate in constructing the Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Expressway.

She said the money was spent by the corporation to pay off debts.

Cruz said Hacienda Lusita is a corporation. It has lots of debts. The money was not divided among shareholders and instead, it went to the trasurer.

In defending the stock distribution option, which has been criticized for effectively exempting the Cojuangcos from agrarian reform, Cruz said the farmers were able to have their land without the government paying even a single centavo for it.

Cruz said they own only 11 percent of the 67 percent shares controlled by the Cojuangco clan.

Pamalakaya, KMP and UMA earlier dared Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case involving SDO and the massacre which happened on Nov.16, 2004 that claimed the lives of 7 farm workers and injured 100 others.

The groups reminded Enrile that on June 8, 1989, the senator, then Senate Minority Leader of the Corazon Aquino controlled Senate delivered a privilege speech questioning the late President Aquino’s insertion of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) in her outline for the land reform law.

They said 21 years ago, Sen. Enrile accused former President Aquino of usurping powers by signing Executive Order No. 229 to preside over the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the body that placed and approved to place the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita under the SDO scheme.

“Will the Senate leadership under the Enrile presidency find time to re-open the long-running story of Hacienda Luisita and the controversial SDO in the name of farmers’ right to land and social justice? Is there a guarantee from Enrile that he will re-open the still unresolved cases and issues surrounding the sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino family upon the request of Luisita farm workers?” the groups said in their joint statement.

In his speech, Enrile, then Senate Minority Floor Leader assailed the Aquino presidency for withdrawing the government case against owners of Hacienda Luisita, adding that the Arroyo presidency circumvent land reform to stay control of Hacienda Luisita.

“It is about time to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case. It will be moral and politically upright to have this case closed ahead of the 2010 elections with the free distribution of lands to 8,000 farmer beneficiaries and the punishment of those involved in the Nov.16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre,” said UMA spokesperson Lito Bais.

The groups lamented that Noynoy and her sisters believe Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them.

The United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is relying on the strength of SDO to prevent the free land distribution of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to some 8,000 farmer beneficiaries. ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the SDO which transformed farmworkers into nominal stockholders, also compelled Luisita workers to accept the P9.50 net pay daily. With reports from Sugar Hicap and Viva Regala-Alonzo

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CBCP asked to break silence on Hacienda Luisita row

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times
and Akihira Tatchu, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Two of the groups supporting the land claim of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers over the 6,453-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac on Monday said they were puzzled with the seemingly deafening silence of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) over the long running dispute inside the hacienda that led to massacre of 7 striking workers, injured 200 others and paved way for the arrest of 120 farmworkers and supporters on Nov.16, 2004.

“We ask the 117 archbishops and bishops of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to break their silence and issue a pastoral statement condemning the new machinations of the Cojuangco family to evict farmworkers and deny their legitimate collective land claim over Hacienda Luisita,” the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the party list group Anakpawis said in a joint statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said while they join the CBCP’s all-out support to farmers affected by aerial spraying in Mindanao and the church support to the struggle of farmers and indigenous people against the Laiban Dam, the prelate, they said, should also back the struggling farm workers of Hacienda Luisita currently facing a new round of eviction from the sugar estate management.

Hicap and Clemente said the CBCP should also issue a statement upholding the rights of the farmworkers over the Cojuangco lands, which they said were acquired through deceptive, manipulative and coercive means.

“We are not asking for CBCP’s divine intervention. But we believe their moral involvement and their Gospel are politically and morally required to rally the Filipino public against the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the Cojuangcos,” they said.

The two leaders informed the CBCP on ongoing deployment of government troops inside Hacienda Luisita.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis said Liberal Party 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s hostile and incorrigible attitude on the land reform dispute is pushing farmers to reject his presidential bid next year.

The groups warned Noynoy of a massive peasant and rural people’s rejection of his presidential ambition next year if continues his arrogant and hostile attitude in dealing with legitimate demand of Hacienda Luisita farm workers to acquire the sprawling 6,454 hectare through urgent and free distribution.

“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 speak the same language of political terror spoken by his would be predecessors in case he wins the highest elective post in 2010. If he will insist on this kind of game plan, then he better forget his presidential ambition because rejection becomes him in 2010,” the groups added.

“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,” they said.

Pamalakaya 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 Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis are two of the groups which participated in the 109- vehicle caravan to Hacienda Luisita last week in support to farmworkers demand for the immediate and free distribution of the sugar estate to Luisita tillers.

Clemente of Anakpawis said the scheduled caravan is jointly organized by Kilusang Mayo Uno, 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.

Clemente said international labor groups allied with KMU will also conduct simultaneous rallies in Japan, US, Europe, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in support of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. Also on the same day, regional chapters of KMP will also stage mass actions to demand the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco estate to hacienda farm workers.

“This is going to be a history in the making for Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. On Nov.16 a strong political statement will be delivered at the gates of the hacienda where the massacre took place five years ago,” she added.

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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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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Mindanao farmers urge Noynoy to junk Luisita memo

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

Davao City, Philippines- Farmers in Northern Mindanao region on Monday pressed Liberal Party presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to scrap the October 30 Hacienda Luisita memorandum that orders striking farmworkers in the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to stop their collective farms

“Miduyog karon ang mga mag-uuma ug mga trabahante sa uma dinhi sa atong rehiyon sa pag-demanda nga ihunong na ang pagpanglutos sa mga mag-uuma sa Hacienda Luisita kay susama lang usab kini nga ang tibuok katawhang mag-uuma ang gilutos ug gihulga ang katungod sa yuta ug panginabuhian,” (Farmers and farmworkers in the region join today in demanding an end to tyranny against the farmers in Hacienda Luisita because this is also similar to committing tyranny and harassment the right to land and livelihood of farmers),) said Rudy Progella, the chairperson of the Northern Mindanao chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Northern Mindanao region).

In a press statement e-mailed to The Pamalakaya Times, Progella said Sen. Aquino should immediately act on the controversy to avoid further displacement to farmers who were recently affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, and will be further displaced should this memorandum take effect on Friday.

“Amo usab gihagit si Sen. (Noynoy) Aquino nga mohimo karon og kongkretong aksyon batok sa maong memorandum pinaagi sa pagkumbinsi sa iyang pamilya nga wagtangon kini nga memorandum kay dako kini nga implikasyon sa iyang kandidatura,” the militant farmer leader said. (We also challenge Sen. Aquino to come up today with a concrete action against this memorandum by urging his family to scrap this memorandum because this has a big implication to his candidacy), the KMP official said.

The Northern Mindanao chapter of KMP and its allied organizations in the region had also issued a nationwide call for the Aquino family to act on the victims of the 2004 massacre in the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation that left 14 farmers dead including 2 children. Up to this day, no one has been convicted of the massacre when 1,000 police and military personnel opened fire to 6,000 striking workers and families of the hacienda who were demanding for an increase in their daily wages.

KMP Northern Mindanao also expresses its support on the “Brown Ribbon” campaign now circulating in the internet that seeks to gather support from the urban middle class, students, professionals, church people, women and other sectors.

The issue in Hacienda Luisita is not isolated for it also affects our farmers here who were also displaced and landless because of the government policy on land use conversion including the displacement of 500 farmers in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental in favor of Hanjin Shipyard; farmers in Buffalo, Tamaraw and Litmus in Musuan, Bukidnon; cases of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards, Certificate of Land Transfer, and Emancipation Patents\ cancellations in favor of operations of logging and mining companies in Gingoog City, and several cases of lumad dislocation in Agusan del Norte, and other cases.

KMP Northern Mindanao said this scenario will further worsen with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) that cements land use conversion as a national policy.

“Hacienda Luisita is a sample case of government’s insincerity to implement genuine land reform where the Cojuangco clan has repeatedly refused to honor its commitment that placed the vast estate into land reform”, it said.

KMP-NMR asserted Hacienda Luisita rightfully belongs to the farmers based on a 1957 agreement between Jose Cojuangco Sr. and the Bangko Sentral and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Cojuangco never paid for the acquisition of the lands but the funds coming from the BSP and GSIS amounting to more than P5 million pesos, with the condition that the lands will be distributed to legitimate small planters as part of the government’s social justice program of then President Ramon Magsaysay.

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