Tag Archives: ULWU

11 groups call for rejection of Noynoy in 2010 polls

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Lollipop de los Reyes and Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines-About 11 rural based organizations and agrarian reform advocacy groups urged the 50 million Filipino voters in the May 10, 2010 elections to reject the presidential bid of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, asserting that electing the son of former President Corazon Aquino’s son to the presidency is like extending the term of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In their statement, the peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural worker group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the peasant women federation Amihan, the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), the Central Luzon wide Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon(AMGL), the legal NGO group Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), the Tanggol Magsasaka human rights committee, the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates- Youth Sector (Nnara-Youth) and Anakpawis party list said it is politically necessary to frustrate the presidential ambition of Aquino.

“The rejection of Noynoy Aquino at the electoral box-office this May 10, 2010 is in the highest interest of the rural people— the farmers, farmworkers, peasant women, agricultural workers, indigenous people and fisherfolk. The collective view of landless farmers and marginalized rural folks is that bringing Aquino to the highest elective post in the land is like extending the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for another six years of injustice, betrayal, corruption, extreme puppetry to the United States and ultimate state terror,” the 11 groups said in their rural manifesto for real change.

“Please allow us to cite our basis why Noynoy is Macapagal-Arroyo in the making, why Noynoy is President Arroyo trapped in a man’s body and why an Aquino presidency appears like giving Arroyo another six year rule of extrajudicial killings, grave human rights violations, high crimes of corruption, puppetry and grand betrayal of national interest and public trust,” the 11 groups added.

In their rural manifesto, the groups said Noynoy and the entire Cojuangco-Aquino landed aristocracy will not yield their unlawful and immoral claim on Hacienda Luisita. At present, the Cojuangco-Aquino established Luisita Estate Management is engaged in round-the-clock campaign to stop free distribution of the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation to 10,000 farmworker beneficiaries.

“It is predictable- an Aquino presidency will just continue Arroyo and other previous presidents’ policy of land reform denials and reversals. The presence of anti-agrarian reform politicians in the Aquino camp is highly evident why agrarian reform will continue to serve the best interest of landed class like the Cojuangco-Aquino and the Roxas-Araneta families under an Aquino presidency,” they said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said: “To set the record straight, LP senatorial candidate and former senator Franklin Drilon was the justice secretary of the late President Corazon Aquino. He instigated the infamous Department of Justice (DoJ) Opinion No.44 which allows anarchic and chaotic land use conversions all over the country. The anti-peasant measure was used by the Cojuangco-Aquino and the Araneta-Roxas family to evade land distribution and pushed the sale and conversions of their landholdings for the benefit of their foreign and private clients”.

The KMP leader recalled during Cory’s time, one of Noynoy’s current political lieutenants—former DAR secretary Butch Abad was instrumental in keeping Hacienda Luisita in the hands of Cojuangco-Aquino through the shameless Drilon opinion. The presence of Drilon and Abad in the Noynoy camp is a stern warning that no real agrarian justice will be undertaken by Aquino if he becomes President in 2010.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Noynoy was scored by a US-based human rights watchdog, hinting Aquino will not solve the problem of political killings and worsening human rights situation in the country. One indicator, Hicap said, is Noynoy’s desire to maintain private armies and paramilitary forces backed and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The country’s human rights organizations said paramilitary troops were in cahoots with the military and were also responsible for the spate of politically motivated murder over the last nine years under Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya II.

“Noynoy is one of the biggest opportunist politicians ever produced in the history of reactionary politics and reactionary elections in the country. In exchange for his family’s lifetime control of Hacienda Luisita including graft-ridden projects like the SCTEX, Noynoy and his feudal clan supported the presidential bid of President Arroyo in 2004 and Noynoy as congressman of Tarlac refused the playing of Hello Garci tape in connection with the massive election fraud perpetrated by the Arroyo mafia in 2004 presidential elections,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya said the massacre of 7 farmers and wounding of 134 striking farmworkers and their supporters in Hacienda Luisita on November 16, 2004 was part of the anti-farmer and anti-Left collaboration of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the fiefdom of the Cojuangco-Aquino. The Arroyo administration ordered DOLE to intervene through the anti-worker assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) during the strike and mobilized military and police forces to disperse and indiscriminately shoot Luisita farmworkers in the name of their political alliance with Cojuangco-Aquino.

KMP and Pamalakaya also warned the economy will continue to suffer under an Aquino presidency. The economic managers of President Arroyo who were responsible for anti-people economic policies like the 12 percent Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) and Oil Deregulation Law to mention a few now composed the economic advisers of the Noynoy camp.

“For instance, LP vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas and senatorial candidate Ralph Recto are orchestrators of the anti-poor EVAT and both are obsessed with the economic poisons prescribed by the IMF-World Bank and operators of World Trade Organization (WTO) or one-sided and anti-Filipino agreements like the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa),” the groups said.

The 11 groups said the appeal to the 50-million voters to rise above the occasion. Let us all frustrate the presidential ambition of Noynoy Aquino. “What we aspire and struggle for is genuine land reform and social justice. And we cannot have it under an extended Arroyo presidency in the political persona of Noynoy Aquino,” the 11 groups added.

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Manila’s agrarian reform chief asked to act on land disputes involving top 2010 bets

By Sugar Hicap, Bb. Joyce Cabral, Cherry de Belen and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita and affected farmers of the ambitious MRT-7 railway project in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan had coalesced to pressure Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to stop the families of Liberal Party presidential and vice-presidential candidates Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Senator Manuel Roxas from denying their rights to land and compel them to surrender their unlawful and immoral control over the disputed lands.

In a joint press statement, the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and farmers groups affiliated with the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged secretary Pangandaman to act on their demands against the “Team Hacienderos” of Aquino and Roxas not later than the May 10, 2010 elections.

ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita are strongly suggesting to DAR to immediately cite the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the Luisita Estate Management (LEM) in contempt of court for violating the status quo order involving the 6,453 hectare sugar estate.

Bais, also the spokesperson of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan through LEM has been allowing different interest groups like the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) to put fences on 200 hectares of sugar lands, allegedly representing debts of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to the banking group.

“Noynoy recently announced that Hacienda Luisita will be distributed to farm workers in the next five years. But based on what his family is doing right now, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is doing everything to keep control of the hacienda and later sell it to entities that would give them billions of pesos in profits,” the Hacienda Luisita leader added.

Status quo

The status quo order stemmed from the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court in 2005 after the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. questioned the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to take over Luisita and have distributed to some 10,000 farmer worker beneficiaries.

The TRO which was applied by HLI management, however, effectively stopped the Cojuangco-Aquino family from pursuing other activities and corporate decisions pertaining to the sugar estate. Reports from ULWU revealed otherwise.

The farmworkers’ group said the Cojuangco-Aquino family has tolerated the terroristic activities of the military and the Army led Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) under the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Nolcom) whom they said are engaged in covert and overt operations like day-to-day surveillance and harassment of leaders and active members of sugar worker groups inside Hacienda Luisita.

Troops loyal to Arroyo

“Troops loyal to President Arroyo are in Hacienda Luisita to protect the illegitimate claim of Noynoy and his family, and that alone confirms the ongoing unholy alliance between the Arroyos and the Cojuangco-Aquino feudal aristocracy,” Bais added.

Joining the Luisita workers in the camp out at DAR are 120 farmers from Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan are the KMP affiliates— the Tungkong Mangga Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (TMUFAI), San Isidro Sandigang Samahan ng Magsasaka (SASAMAG) and Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Sitio Dalandanan (SAMAGDA).

“We are urging Mar Roxas to convince his relatives to stop landgrabbing and harassment of farmers in Tungkong Mangga. He wants to be vice-president, he should start put aside the interests of his relatives and put the interests of poor farmers in front,” said Wilfredo Marbella, KMP Deputy Secretary-General.

Tungkong Mangga

“The lands in Tungkong Mangga are being claimed by Araneta Properties, Inc. (now led by Gregorio `Greggy’ Araneta, from the Salvador and Gregorio Araneta lineage), though farmers cultivated the lands for decades. Now, Mr. Palengke Mar Roxas, please help farmers against the harassment imposed by your relatives. The farms at Tungkong Mangga are the source of fruits, vegetables at nearby `palengkes,'” he said.

Tungkong Mangga, particularly Sitio San Isidro, Dalandanan and Ricafort is the site of the 200-hectare intermodal station of the MRT 7. Its main proponent is the Universal LRT Corp. led by Hongkong-based EL Holdings, also composing is the SM Development Corp. of mall-tycoon Henry Sy.

“The lands at Tungkong Mangga are not owned by the Aranetas as they have been foreclosed by Manila Banking Corp. during the Marcos’ dictatorship, who then, used it as collateral to acquire loans from the Central Bank. During the Aquino government, MBC was sequestered as it was owned by Marcos cronies and used ill-gotten wealth on its business. Generally, the lands were paid for the Aranetas by public funds, thus, should be subjected by land reform,” said Marbella.

In 1998, DAR has been preparing for the issuance of Cert. of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to the farmers when the Aranetas have filed petition for exemption. Until now, it has not been processed and currently on the discretion of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC). The Gregorio Araneta Inc. and Araneta Properties, Inc. are now represented by Gregorio “Greggy” Araneta III as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the son-in-law of the late dictator Ferdinand MarcosFerdinand Marcos being married to Irene Marcos. They are also relatives of vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas of the J. Amado Araneta lineage. Moreover, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is of the clan of Jesus Araneta Lacson de Arroyo of Negros.

“The Araneta Properties, Inc. is chaired by Benito Araneta, a former representative of the PCGG to PhilComSat but was fired by former pres. Estrada due to malversation of funds. He was investigated for plunder in the Senate and sen. Enrile presented proofs of his plunder in the gov’t corporation,” said Marbella.

“Mar Roxas’ relatives are cashing in the lands as SM Dev’t Corp and Universal LRT Corp. are planning another Araneta Center in Tungkong Mangga, composed of a train station, commercial and residential establishments and bus terminal. This is the first stop of our series of protest,” Marbella 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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Inquirer asked to take up Luisita, land reform in 2nd edition of presidential debate

By Billy Javier Reyes and Kremlin Montenegro

Manila, Philippines-Six of the biggest rural based groups in the country– the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis party list on Tuesday proposed to editors and organizers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s presidential debate to take up the issue of Hacienda Luisita and the state of land reform in the second staging of the presidential forum.

In a press statement Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap appealed to Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot and editor-in-chief Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc to have land reform issues discussed in the 2nd edition of the Inquirer presidential debate.

“We submit this humble appeal to the collective leadership and political wisdom of those behind the Inquirer presidential debate. Majority of the presidential wannabes are landlords and feudal chiefs of vast landholdings all over the country, so there’s already conflict of interest as far as land reform is concerned. We hope this proposal would merit the approval of the organizers,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader noted that the first edition of the presidential debate held yesterday at UP Diliman and attended by 2,500 people was a success, although there are more important questions that should have been asked to determine if public interest is really in heart and political mind of every candidate, rather than use the occasion as opportunity for political mudslinging against and between presidential wannabes.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap suggested a working title for the Inquirer regarding their proposal. “How about “how do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita as title of the next presidential debate?”

The Pamalakaya leader recalled that on June 8, 1989, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 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.

Sen. Enrile said former President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order No. 229 enabling the Aquino presidency 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.

“Senate President Enrile could be invited as resource speaker for the presidential debate on Hacienda Luisita,” Hicap suggested.

Pamalakaya said the debate should also include discussion on the plans of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)to distribute some 200,000 hectares of land to qualified farmer beneficiaries this year under the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (CARPer) with the return of the compulsory acquisition scheme in the five year extended land reform law.

“Secretary Pangandaman is the point person of landgrabbers and the land speculators in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agrarian reform department. His statement suggests false hopes and political blackmail rolled into. He wants to convince landless farmers that everything is ok under CARPer which is not true,” the group said.

In its website (www.dar.gov.ph) the agrarian reform agency expressed optimism that the department will attain 200,000 hectare land distribution target for 2010 due largely to the restoration of compulsory acquisition as one of the modes of acquiring lands under Republic Act 9700 or the CARPer law. He said the increase in the budget of DAR will hasten the distribution of land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“First the target is too low compared to the more than 6 million hectares of prime agricultural lands concentrated in the hands of landed monopolies like big landlords, private corporations and multinational plantations and military landlords in AFP military reservations,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said based on the data provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the country has 14.1 million hectares of prime agricultural lands, of said total 9.9 million hectares are farmlands and about 4 million hectares more or less are devoted to livestock production which were exempted from land distribution since 1988.

“There are about 7 million hectares of prime agricultural lands or more are concentrated in the hands of the few, and we DAR has no proof that five million hectares or more of these lands were already distributed to farmer beneficiaries under the reactionary CARP regime,” the group said.

Pamalakaya noted that in the September 2007 report of DAR, that following data were uncovered: 5,049 emancipation patents (EPs) and 103, 092 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were cancelled by the agrarian department covering 204,579 hectares of land. But think tank Ibon Foundation said at the middle of 2004, DAR cancelled 2,000 land titles of farmers involving 380,000 hectares of land. #

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Sugar groups told: Recall EO on importation

By Jay Cuesta, Roy Morilla and Sugar Hicap

Lawyers Atty.Jobert Pahilga and Jules Matibag of National Union of Peoples' Lawyers discussing the bitter pills the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has in mind for striking farmworkers

Manila, Philippines- Asserting that there is no legitimate basis to import sugar from foreign sources abroad, five of the biggest rural based groups—the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to recall Executive Order No. 857 authorizing the National Food Authority (NFA) to import sugar together with the private sector.

In a joint press statement, the groups pressed Malacanang to stop NFA from importing 150,000 metric tons of sugar tax free, saying that such move will pave way for the massive dumping of foreign sugar products at the expense of local sugar producers all over the country. They said, the situation does not merit the importation of sugar from sources abroad.

“There is no dramatic indicator for the retail price of sugar to increase as mill gate prices are relatively lower at P1,700 to P1,900 per 50-kg, very far from government lies that it is P2,000 upward,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

Citing the report of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, composed of sugar millers and big planters, Ramos said raw production rose by 14.7%, refined production by 41.74%, even the milling rate of sugarcane to sugar increased by 4.19%, in short, where is the shortage the government is drumming about?” said Ramos.

Price manipulation

Likewise, leaders of UMA and NFSW accused officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) of engaging in price manipulation of sugar prices in the domestic market to justify sugar price hikes, enrich the pockets of big sugar traders, make commissions and justify the importation of sugar from foreign sources abroad.

They said agriculture and sugar officials for misleading the public on the actual price of sugar in the domestic market which they said had allowed big traders and sugar cartels to jack up prices of their products and promoted panic buying among consumers to further justify the skyrocketing prices of sugar.

UMA acting chair Butch Lazonde said the SRA and the Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap had some explaining to do as to why sugar price is going up to an unprecedented levels of P 52 per kilo despite of the government assurance of sufficient supply of sugar for the crop year 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“The general public has the right to know the real score behind the sudden hike in the prices of sugar since the situation does not merit for any sharp increase. Last December sugar price tops only for P42.00 per kilo but this January alone it had reached to P52.00 fearing the price will vault as high as P60.00. Such drastic hike on its price is very unlikely considering that we have enough supply for local consumption,” the UMA official asserted.

“This is a clear case of price manipulation. It shows unscrupulous big sugar traders and millers are behind this sudden sugar price hike. They are the ones who are benefitting from it. This is sheer profiteering. SRA and DA officials connived with big millers and traders to push this major disarray in the local market to benefit a few paved way for this sugar fiasco. Lazonde added

NFSW asserted the upsurge on the price if sugar as “fake” and had no really basis for the increase.

Ronald Dagu-ob NFSW national council member explained that “The province of Negros supplies 60% of sugar requirements and if we combine the supplies from other sugar producing provinces like Leyte, Pampanga, Tarlac and Mindanao this crop year, we think we’re going to have more than enough supplies to last all year round. So why the Department of Agriculture is eager to push for the importation of 150,000 MT of sugar?”

Lazonde said that “Both agencies are treating the situation just like another day in the office. Acting in a casual business like attitude without considering its effect to the general public”.

“As far as we are concern, sugar price should be not higher than the suggested retail price of P43.00 as the Department of Trade and Industry conveyed. If we follow the price of sugar last quarter of 2009 there have been increase of demands because of the holiday season for just only P2 to P3 top. But this January the price of sugar spiked four times, an increase of P14 to P20. This preposterous price frog leap, SRA and the Department of Agriculture can’t concretely explain to the worried stricken public”. Lazonde added.

“What the SRA, DA and the government do is to support our local sugar industry by subsidizing small sugar planters and at the same time help farm workers to increase their wages and benefits. Importation of sugar will only weakened our local sugar industry. To ensure a sufficient supply, we are urging the agencies concern to impose a moratorium not only on sugar but also with all agricultural products that is considered as basic commodities”. Lazonde said.

Special session

Meanwhile, the Pamalakaya asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to call special session on the issue of sugar following reports that the government will resort to sugar imports to the detriment of the local sugar industry and the sugar consuming public.

“Let this massacre of sugar industry by anarchic importation of sugar be discussed in a special session by Congress. We understand it is already the start of the campaign season, but this should not prevent lawmakers from taking this highly explosive commodity and issue and address the concerns of sectors affected by the looming sugar catastrophe characterized by massive importation and all-out price manipulation of sugar,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap. #

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JPE told: “Remember June 8, 1989”

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines-

Supporters of striking Hacienda Luisita farmworkers commemorated the 5th year anniversary of Luisita massacre

Two militant groups supporting the striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita on Saturday reminded Senate President Juan Ponce 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.

In a joint press statement, 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 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.

Bais noticed that presidential and senatorial candidates are exploiting the controversial C-5 road double insertion issue to gain media mileage and public attention for the advancement of their respective electoral chances and futures in the May 2010 polls, while on the other hand had deliberately ignored the demand of Hacienda Luisita workers to re-open the Hacienda Luisita agrarian dispute, including the still unresolved Nov.16, 2004 massacre that claimed 7 lives of farmworkers and injuring more than 100 others.

Last week, 10, 000 farmers and Manila-based activists who took part in rally at Mendiola posed this question to presidential candidates, except Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita.”

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap scored Senator Aquino for treating the Mendiola Massacre a closed case, asserting that the perpetrators of the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres remain unpunished and free.

“Political arrogance becomes Noynoy. This guy is closet dictator passing himself off as a liberal politician,” he added.

The Pamalakaya leader lamented that Noynoy believes 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 Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme 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. #

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Palace asked: “Explain alleged conspiracy with Cojuangco-Aquino on SCTEx deal

by Kremlin Montenegro and Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants supporting the fight of striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita on Saturday asked Malacanang Palace to explain its role on the alleged overpricing of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) project.

In a joint statement, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya and staunch ally Anakpawis party list said the sweetheart deal on SCTEx was done at the time President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former President Corazon Aquino were the best of friends in national politics.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement said at the time SCTEx project was conceived and approved, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan was still supportive of the Arroyo administration, and in fact endorsed Mrs. Arroyo over closest rival- the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. in May 2004 presidential elections.

“President Arroyo owes the public an honest-to-goodness explanation. Malacanang and the ruling patriarchs and matriarchs of Hacienda Luisita should tell the truth and nothing but the truth on this mother of road to perdition scandal in recent memory,” both leaders said.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap believed that the SCTEx project was a grand plan for money making. “Imagine the original price of SCTEx project was P 15.7 billion and shot up to P 32.8 billion. If this was not money making at its best, then what was it? Multiple insertion for multi-platinum crimes of corruption?”, said Hicap.

Hicap said the controversy involving the government purchase of the road right of way in Hacienda Luisita, involving 600-hectare sugar plantation owned by the Aquino-Cojuangco family should be investigated by both chambers of Congress, and should not be dismissed as mere political stunts in connection with the May 2010 polls were Senators Manuel Villar and Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III were leading presidential candidates.

“National interest and public trust are involved here,” said Pamalakaya.

Reports said SCTEx project was first conceived in 1999 at the cost of P15.7 billion. By 2007, the cost of the project more than doubled to P32.8 billion, with an additional supplemental loan of P6.7 billion made to cover price escalation, contingency and interest that further bloated the price.

The cost of the project ballooned to almost P39 billion [or] P419 million per kilometer of road. The government paid P83 million for the purchase of the road right of way and poured in another P170 million for the construction of a road interchange in the middle of the hacienda.

The government had agreed to buy 83 hectares of Luisita land at P100 per square meter, which he claimed was more than 10 times the zonal value of P6 to P8 per sq m for similar raw sugar lands in Concepcion and San Miguel, Tarlac.

Yesterday, some 10, 000 farmers and Manila-based activists who joined the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan (National Journey of Toiling Masses for Land and Justice) today posed this question to presidential candidates, except Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita.”

Leading the 10-kilometer march from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Mendiola to commemorate the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre, Lakbayan organizers Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod in a joint statement said presidential candidates Sen. Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party), Sen. Dick Gordon, Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilbert Teodoro, independent candidates JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas are lawfully, politically and morally obliged to state their position on Hacienda Luisita.

“Senator Aquino believes Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them. Does the rest of the pack of the presidential wannabes subscribe to this whimsical assertion of the Cojuangcos? ”, the Lakbayan leaders said in a joint statement.

Several farmers groups led by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is relying on the strength of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme 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.

KMP’s Ramos said the problems in Hacienda Luisita will not find a long lasting and just settlement under a Noynoy Aquino presidency, asserting that the 6,453-hectare sugar estate is the bread and butter and the source of economic and political power of the Cojuangco-Aquino for near century and the landed clan have been treating generations of farm workers as children of a lesser God.

“So the 64-dollar question mark remains—how these presidentiables except Noynoy solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita?” the KMP leader reiterated.#

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