Farmers from the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) vowed to push for land distribution of highly-disputed 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita on the first day of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as president. The group is planning to stage a series of protest to drum up the issue of land reform, particularly at present to oppose the systematic landgrabbing and displacements of farmers taking place in different parts of the country.
“We do not want deception on farmers as her mother former president Cory Aquino did when she passed the RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1988,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
“The rage of farmers being displaced and stripped off of their lands are even higher at present than during the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987. We had high hopes for change then but we were massacred by the Aquino government. In November 16, 2004, striking agri-workers and farmers in Hacienda Luisita were again massacred when they fought for living wages and the revocation of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and now Noynoy Aquino is trying to banner change without concrete actions to support it,” he added.
KMP said that Aquino has promised nothing for the Filipino farmers during his campaign and no realistic resolution for the Hacienda Luisita unrest. Though people are hyped about his victory and succession, Aquino could not change the fact that Hacienda Luisita lands were acquired by his grandfather Jose “Don Pepe” Cojuangco, Sr. in 1957 who used public funds on a condition that it would be distributed to farmers in 10 years time. Former president Cory Aquino salvaged Hacienda Luisita and invented the SDO through CARP. About 15 years of implementation, agri-workers were fed up and struggled against the very root cause of their poverty, the SDO and the Cojuangco-Aquino monopoly control over the thousands of hectares of lands.
“What his mother did against a court decision on December 2, 1985, ordering the Cojuangco-owned Tarlac Dev’t Corporation (TADECO) to surrender Hacienda Luisita was done again by the Cojuangco-Aquinos when they petitioned for a Temporary Restraining Order from the Supreme Court to block the December 23, 2005 decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to revoke the SDO. The Cojuangco-Aquinos are just turning the heads of agri-workers around as they try to keep control of Hacienda Luisita,” Ramos said.
The group said that it is now clear why Aquino declared that he would not recognize a Supreme Court Chief Justice appointed by the outgoing Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They said that his mother former president Cory Aquino worked around to withdraw government claim of Hacienda Luisita at the Court of Appeals on May 18, 1988 when she order Solicitor General Frank Chavez to file a motion to dismiss and Noynoy Aquino is apparently planning to do the same as the party involved is directly PARC and the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“This is very dangerous as this shows conflict of interest, Noynoy could just order DAR and PARC to withdraw or change their decision on the revocation of SDO, and the case would be dismissed as the Supreme Court would simply invoke that the party involved is no longer interested in pursuing it, thus, leaving the agri-workers and farmers in misery,” said Ramos.
“Thus, we are calling on Chief Justice Corona to stand his ground and independence. He should stand for social justice and serve those who are for decades deprived of what is rightfully theirs,” he added.
“We will definitely not allow this and use all possible options to oppose the Cojuangco-Aquino’s maneuverings to keep control of Hacienda Luisita. This is no longer a legal issue but a moral and social justice issue. If a president is self-seeking and egotistical as using political power and influence to serve himself and his family, he has no right to stay as one even for a day,” Ramos said.
“The decisive factor on the Hacienda Luisita issue is the decisiveness of the agri-workers and farmers. Peasants from other areas are on the backing of their struggle as Hacienda Luisita is a model of agrarian unrest in the country, whatever comes out of this landlord-peasant contradiction would be the fate of other agrarian dispute. Thus, we are also calling on all sectors to contribute into the realization of social justice, which is the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to those who cultivated and developed it with their sweat and blood, the agri-workers and farmers,” Ramos called. #