SC Decision on Luisita Land Dispute: Legalizing the Theft of Farmworkers’ Lands

We, members of the Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network – a group of individuals and organizations supporting the farmers and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita – express our utmost outrage over decision of the Supreme Court to bring the case of the Hacienda Luista back to square one by ordering the Department of Agrarian Reform to conduct another referendum among farm worker-beneficiaries to choose between shares of stocks or land.

The Network believes that the High Court’s decision today is a setback for the Hacienda Luisita farmers’ struggle for land and justice. It subjects the longest-running land dispute in the country to a mere “popularity” vote instead of advancing what is right and just – that is, to install the legitimate farm worker beneficiaries to their land by freely distributing the Luisita lands to its rightful  owners. This decision sets a bad precedent for all land disputes in the country – especially those involving the anti-farmer Stock Distribution Scheme currently in place in Hacienda Luisita.

The High Court’s decision is a bitter pill sugar-coated with nice-sounding phrases revoking the Stock Distribution Option to make it acceptable to the farmers workers but, in reality, retaining the corporate scheme which prevents the actual distribution of land to the farm workers.

For more than two decades, HLI has tried to manipulate the farm workers for years. They have already raked in multi-billion profits by selling and converting sizable portions of the land and by exploiting the labor of the farm workers. But the great strike of more than 5,000 farm workers in 2004 is testament that farm workers have already rejected this kind of arrangement. Furthermore, the success of the Bungkalan campaign where Hacienda Luisita farmers and their families collectively till the land for their benefit only shows that the farmers are capable of uplifting their condition without the onerous partnership with the Cojuangcos.

Also, we believe that the referendum is a tool for machinations and maneuverings of the Cojuangcos to retain their ownership and control over the sprawling hacienda. The compromise deal cooked up last August 2010 witnessed the excessive release of money, with the HLI dangling a P150-million financial assistance package to the farmers so that the latter would give up their claims to the land.

Finally, we call all peasant advocates, truth- and justice-loving Filipinos to join the mobilizations of the Hacienda Luisita farmers in the coming days expressing their disappointment and anger over the Supreme Court’s anti-farmer ruling.

Statement may be downloaded here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students of College of Saint Benilde at the forefront of youth supporting the Hacienda Luisita Farmers

Students of College of Saint Benilde in Manila are actively supporting the campaigns of the Hacienda Luisita farmers.

Last April 7, 2011, the Center for Social Action together with the Photography Class DPH1 launched a  photo exhibit entitled “Hacienda Luisita: In Focus.”  The photo exhibit was an offshoot of the  students’ visit and photo session last February 28, 2011 in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac. The photos featured were taken by Photography DPH1 class during the said visit and photo session. The photo exhibit was not only aimed at showcasing the talents and creativity of the students, but to call the attention of the CSB community in general about the plight of the Hacienda Luisita farm workers.

 Meanwhile, last April 15, 2011, the NSTP Class of DGEA organized a benefit-gig for the Hacienda Luisita farmers. Proceeds from the said event will be donated to the farmers to help in their Bungkalan Program.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Action Day para sa Hacienda Luisita

Tinipon ni Pia Montalban ang ilang blog entries na tumugon sa Blog Action Day para sa mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid ng Hacienda Luisita noong Setyembre 15.

Basahin ang mga tala mula rito:

Blog Entry Blog Action Day | Sept 15 | Hacienda Luisita

Pasalamat kayo na binabalaan ko kayong mga kababayang Pilipino tungkol sa Luisita, Maguindanao, Quirino hostage crisis, at kung ano-ano pa. | Ang Taniman | The Hacienda Luisita massacre is not just a political issue | In Solidarity With Land Reform Day of Action in the Philippines | Pagkatapos ng Fairytale make-believe | Your Own Backyard | Bawat Butil | Palimos po ng Lupa | The Problem with “Just Compensation” | Land to the Tiller | Laking Magsasaka | Tatlong Salita para sa Hacienda Luisita

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Farmers’ advocates express concern over the imprudence of Hacienda Luisita ‘deal’

Farmers’ advocates express concern over the imprudence of Hacienda Luisita ‘deal’

Reference: Adel Abaya

Secretariat, Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network

Contact Number: 09202737517

The Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network, a group of individuals and organizations who are working in solidarity with the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, expresses its alarm over the supposed purported settlement between the Hacienda Luisita Inc. and its farm workers on the distribution of the 6,500-hectare land owned by the Cojuangco and the family of President Benigno Aquino III.

Reports have said that the farmers and the owners of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) in Tarlac on Friday (August 6,2010) ended the 21-year-old land dispute after signing a compromise deal giving farmworkers two options— to receive land parcels or to retain their share of stocks under the  Stock Distribution Option.

We wish to raise the following points:

  1. The timing of the disclosure of this deal raises suspicion on the real motive behind the concocted negotiation.  If the deal was indeed done in good faith, why was it not publicly disclosed since its supposed inception in 2007? Why reveal it only now when the Supreme Court is a few days away from deliberating the case of Hacienda Luisita? There should have been a series of public consultation to discuss and review the terms and conditions of the deal.  In the same breadth, the veracity of the mandate of the official and or individuals alleged to be representatives of the farmers, who took their liberty to sign the agreement in behalf of the said farmers, have yet to be confirmed whether in form and act they do negotiated for and in behalf of the farmers—their benefits, in mind.
  2. Meanwhile, it appears that both options put the farmers in a losing situation.  Under the said deal, only a third of the land or 1,400 hectares out of the 6,500-hectare hacienda would be distributed among the farmer beneficiaries.   That is actually absurd since this small portion of sprawling land estate would be divided among 10,502 farmer beneficiaries! The number of farmer beneficiaries is based on the list prepared by Hacienda Luisita Management as actual land beneficiaries, but this list still needs meticulous review and verification.
  3. On the other hand, the Stock Distribution Option has already been revoked by the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2006. The department was already poised to distribute the land years ago as ordered by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, only to be stalled by the Temporary Restraining Order filed by the Cojuangcos in the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that in the twenty one years implementation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), it had not had not lifted the farmers out of their impoverished and vulnerable state. The SDO scheme facilitated the virtual surrender of the farmers of their rightful claims to the agricultural lands of the hacienda in exchange for meager shares of capital stock and production shares.

However, we fear that the state of poverty in Hacienda Luisita would drive the farmers to sought immediate and temporary relief from their economic woes, hence making the compensation package of the SDO an enticing option.  But is that the kind of direction that we want our farmers to tread?  A path that welcomes them with momentary benefits but leads them deeper into the quagmire of poverty?

The Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network enjoins the farmers’ desire to immediately resolve the two-decade land dispute, but in a manner that is fair and would uphold the farmers rightful claim to the land.  Also, the Network, together with its ally organizations in the religious and lay sectors, and individuals, calls President Benigno C. Aquino III, who is a stakeholder in the vast estate but at the same time accountable to the Filipino people which includes the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, to take a look at the judiciousness and the authenticity of the negotiation being propagated by his own family.

Finally, we denounce any negotiation that would put the Hacienda Luisita farmers at the losing end, and this includes deals done in clandestine and in haste.  ###

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hacienda Luisita Farmers’ Open Letter to the President

United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU)

and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA)

July 26, 2010

Pres. Noynoy Aquino

President

Republic of the Philippines

Dear President Noynoy,

With apprehension in our hearts and caution in our minds, we voted for you in the recent presidential election, not so much due to our trust in you but more of putting you to task to render justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and address the roots of this injustice – the denial of our right to own and till the lands of the Hacienda. Being the president, you are duty-bound to go beyond the vested interests of your class and clan.

This is not the time to make promises, but rather, the time for action and concrete program for genuine land reform. Well beyond the problem of corruption, is the state of widespread landlessness of the peasant masses not only in Hacienda Luisita, but in the entire country, as well. The powerful asendero Cojuangco clan, to which you belong, is a major player in perpetuating the oppressive system of land monopoly. As you had done with the wang-wang, we urge you to show the way by starting in your own backyard.

Lead the way in bringing justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the extrajudicial killings which claimed the lives of former farm worker and Councilor Abel Ladera, CATLU President Ric Ramos, and union leader Tirso Cruz . Mouthing the NOLCOM line that the Left did it will not solve the problem, much worse exonerate those responsible for the bloody crime. We demand the prosecution of those responsible and criminally liable in NOLCOM, in the Air Force Crowd Dispersal units and the GHQ that authorized the deployment, the PNP R-3 down the line, and the DOLE secretary who deputized the NOLCOM.

We also demand that you put a stop to the militarization of the Hacienda Luisita. Wave upon wave of RSOT deployments since 2003, especially during and after the people’s strike, are disrupting the economic and political life of the people. Currently, the military troops deployed in Bgy. Balite are involved in harassing the farm workers, coercing them to cooperate with the Luisita Estate Management (LEM), the outfit put up by your corporation to execute the land-conversion plans of your clan.

Even as we demand justice for the victims of human rights violations, we urge you to address the roots of the dispute and conflict over Hacienda Luisita. To be able to do so, you must first recognize the legal and legitimate right of the farm workers to the lands of Hacienda Luisita. This right has been denied a number of times since 1967, when your maternal grandparent, Demetria Cojuangco, declared that there were no “tenants” in Hacienda Luisita to avoid its distribution to the farm workers. The distribution of the land to the farm workers is actually the condition to the loan granted by the government to your forebears to pay for the acquisition of the Hacienda Luisita from Tabacalera.

It was your mother herself, when she was president, who set the stage for the great people’s strike and the Hacienda Luisita massacre 16 years earlier. In May 1988, the GRP lost its own case (filed by the Marcos government then in 1980) in the Court of Appeals against TADECO to compel the latter to hand-over the Hacienda to the government for distribution. Then Solicitor General Frank Chavez, serving under the new president, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, filed the motion to dismiss the case in behalf of the Philippine government, saying that Hacienda Luisita was going to be distributed anyway under the new reform law. But instead of distributing the lands of the Hacienda, these were put under the Stock Distribution Option, a provision included in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law signed into law by Cory Aquino on June 10, 1988. This provision circumvented the spirit of land reform by way of distributing stocks and not the lands to farmer-beneficiaries. Further, through Executive Order No. 229, Cory Aquino was given the authority to preside over the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the body that would approve stock distribution schemes, including that of the Hacienda Luisita. As you well know, the rest is history.

The great people’s strike against the SDO that ensued in November 2004 should serve as a lesson and warning for you not to repeat your mother’s blunder. We are in a similar situation now as in 1986. The DAR, under then President Arroyo, is poised to distribute the lands of the Hacienda Luisita as decided by the PARC in 2006. But the Cojuangcos, in behalf of HLI, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court and was granted an indefinite TRO. Now that you are sitting as President, you might be tempted to repeat what your mother did before by ordering the Solicitor General and the DAR to default on the case which would consequently reverse the PARC decision. Averting the distribution order of DAR would therefore put the case of the Hacienda Luisita under the new CARPER Law.

But how could CARPER benefit the peasantry when this law is premised on the scarcity of land and argues against physical distribution? Instead, its centerpiece is agribusiness, thus delivering the lands, agricultural and otherwise, into the hands of big landlords and business, as well as foreign corporations. We believe that CARPER is another bogus land reform program that is much worse than the CARP. It will only drive more peasants out of their lands, including those farmers who are holding EP, CLT, and under other arrangements like the SDO.

That you own only 3% of the stocks in HL and therefore is not decisive in deciding the faith of Hacienda Luisita is not the issue. Now that you are the president, the real and main issue is your political will to implement a genuine land reform that would benefit not only the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita but all of the impoverished peasantry in our country.

Mr. President, remember your famous line “kayo ang boss ko” during your inaugural address. Toying with words and making empty promises will not do well to your presidency.

Signed

Lito Bais

Acting President, ULWU

Felix Nakpil

Spokesperson,ULWU

Pedring Laza

Spekesperson, AMBALA- MARTYR-HL

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

KABYAWAN

KABYAW.jpg picture by makoydakuykoy

KABYAWAN
Mga Tula Para sa mga Manggagawa ng Hacienda Luisita

Ika-anim na Chapbook ng KILOMETER64 Poetry Collective
Enero 2004

Tampok ang mga Tula nina:

Santiago Villafania | spin | Jonar Sabillano | Kristian Cordero |
Mark Funcion | Mark Angeles | Alexander Martin Remollino |
Noel Sales Barcelona | Maryjane Alejo | Rustum Gil Casia |
Jeremy Evardone | Prex Calvario | Medel Mercado |
Usman Abdurajak Sali | Isidro Binangonan | Ronalyn Olea |
Ramsel Roy Monsobre | Sadirmata | Gelacio Guillermo |
Danilo Hernandez Ramos | Kristoffer Berse

I-download dito: km64_chap6_kabyawan_ver._2

“Panahon ng anihan nang iputok ng mga manggagawa ng Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) at mga manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) ang welga.

Kabyawan.

Panahong aanihin na ang mga tanim na tubo. Bitbit ang panawagan para sa mas maalwang pamumuhay at ang karapatan sa lupang pinagyaman sa loob ng maraming panahon.

Ang sukli ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino, karahasan. Sa awtoridad ng noo’y labor secretary na si Pat Sto. Tomas, binuwag ang piketlayn na ikinasawi ng maraming welgista.

Sa napipintong pagsasalin ng pamamahala mula kay Gloria Macapagal Arroyo patungo kay Noynoy Aquino, napakainam na muling ipaalala ang mga pangyayari noong Nobyembre 2004.

Sa edisyong ito ng kalipunan ng mga tula ng Kilometer64, bibigyang pagpupugay ang magiting na paninindigan ng mga manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita na hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na nakikibaka.”

-Rustum Casia, Kilometer64

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment