The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) urged president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to immediately pull-out the military in Hacienda Luisita. The groups said that the military has been threatening farmworkers protesting the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and served as the private army of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
“Noynoy Aquino is lying to his teeth when he says he is adopting a ‘hands-off’ policy on the Hacienda Luisita issue. His military is totally serving his family and relatives, as their private army against farmworkers who are struggling for their rights to land,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
“We have a president who is useless to Filipino peasants and number one protector of landlords and hacienderos, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines under their disposal. He is not hands-off on the Hacienda Luisita, he is concretely anti-peasant, anti-land reform against any democratic change,” added Axel Pinpin, Secretary-General of KASAMA-TK.
The groups are presently holding the 100-day peasant camp-out in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to challenge Aquino to effect fundamental change or signals of it on his first 100 days of administration. They have submitted their omnibus demands to Aquino on June 30 and a key agenda was regarding human rights protection and the stop of militarization of farmers’ communities.
“Militarization has been a key factor to Cojuangco-Aquinos. During the 1989 referendum on the SDO, Hacienda Luisita was heavily militarized and the soldiers themselves campaigned for the SDO. Before the strike of November 2004, the military was relatively absent at the area, thus, farmworkers were able to express and organize themselves freely and without fear,” Ramos said.
Farmworkers from Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) said that 8 out of 10 barangays have military detachments and the barangay officials were recruited as CAFGUs (civilian paramilitary) which obliged them to operate for the military.
Lito Bais, acting ULWU president and AMBALA chair Felix Nacpil said that they have always been on guard of potential attacks such as extra-judicial killing or abduction, such as what happened to Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) president Ric Ramos who was also the chair of Bgy. Mapalacsiao who was killed by sniper fire at his house on October 25, 2005.
The groups said that the military played a vital role for the Cojuangco-Aquinos after the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004.
“After the massacre which killed 7 farmworkers, was a series of extra-judicial killings which felled CATLU president Ric Ramos, Tarlac Councilor Abel Ladera, Philippine Independent Church Father William Tadeña, KMP Tarlac leaders Marcelino Beltran and Ben Concepcion and 2 others,” said Ramos.
They also said that the recent referendum of the sham compromise deal was brought out by massive military operations thus farmworkers protests and organizing have been subdued to an extent.
The groups said that the history of Hacienda Luisita has been heavily marked by peasant struggle and mass deception and oppression by the Cojuangco-Aquinos. The farmworkers who are the legitimate owners of the 6,453-hectare of land are being conned and harassed repetitively by the Cojuangco-Aquinos in line to serve their interest.
In 1957, the Cojuangco-Aquinos used public funds to acquire Hacienda Luisita under a condition that it would be distributed in 10 years time but the Cojuangco-Aquinos showed no plans of distributing the lands for more than 50 years.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are the epitome of the modern-day landlords who would resort to power, corruption and lies to preserve their control over the vast lands. They are entrenched to the very seat of political power represented by president Noynoy Aquino, also on mass media, as he is backed-up by a major media network. They are using these to maintain their control over Hacienda Luisita,” Ramos said.
“Thus, we call on Noynoy Aquino to immediately pull your military out of Hacienda Luisita and stop lying that you are lenient on the issue when obviously you are not. You are a president of no land reform agenda, no human rights agenda, no people agenda whatsoever. Not having a land reform plans, you are of no use to the Fililipino peasants,” called Ramos. #