Farmworkers’ struggle pushed the Cojuangco-Aquinos to consider giving up Hacienda Luisita lands 09/15/2010
Hacienda Luisita farmers protest at the Supreme Court
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) lauded the principled and determined struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers in pushing the Cojuangco-Aquinos to consider giving up 4,102-hectares of agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita. The group said that it would not be possible if not for the endless mass actions launched by the farmworkers supported by activists from different sectors.
“This is a model people’s struggle, the farmers as being the primary force and activists from different sectors, the workers, women, urban poor, youth-students, church people, professionals and advocates supporting their cause. This isolated the Cojuangco-Aquinos and of course, president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III who claimed being ‘hands-off’ of the issue,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
The group said that this is not the time to celebrate but to further intensify vigilance as the Cojuangco-Aquinos are popular in scheming the peasantry and the people. KMP said that the very indicator that the lands are distributed to the farmworkers is when the titles of the lands are named for them.
“We doubt that the Cojuangco-Aquinos would easily give up the lands, or they would focus their efforts in cashing in on the lands, thus, land valuation would be a very sensitive and strenous issue,” said Ramos.
Leaders of Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) said that the Supreme Court panel suggested with the gesture of willingness by the Cojuangco-Aquinos, that the remaining agricultural lands sized 4,102-hectares be distributed to the farmworkers upon payment of ‘just compensation.’
“Primarily, we want to make sure that the farmworkers would shell out absolutely nothing as they are the legitimate owners of the lands. We have many agrarian experiences that the landlords voluntarily offered their lands to coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) but eventually they made milking cow out of it and the farmer-beneficiaries were not able to pay amortization,” Ramos said.
The group said that the manner should be nothing like the Voluntary-Offer-to-Sell (VOS) of the CARP, which is now continued by CARP Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer).
“We should be vigilant against the Cojuangco-Aquinos raking up public funds,” Ramos said.
Breaking off Cojuangco-Aquinos control
The group said that AMBALA and United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) are creditable of this minor victory. They are consistently supported by the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, KMP Central Luzon) and by the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA – TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) on their mass actions in Manila.
“The very key to this development was the breaking off of the farmworkers from the control and harassment by the Cojuangco-Aquinos inside Hacienda Luisita. When the leaders and lawyers of AMBALA were able to consult to various barangays, the farmworkers were informed of the exploitative scheme of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, thus, signing up their support and affirming Atty. Pahilga as their legal-counsel,” Ramos said.
The group said that the Cojuangco-Aquinos were only able to hold the referendum and assign fake farmworkers representatives when the hacienda was highly-militarized, limiting the movement of those opposed. Upon instruction of the Supreme Court to the legal counsels of AMBALA, belonging to Sentra ng Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) Foundation, farmworkers’ leaders and their lawyers were able to tap those petrified of the military harassment. In a few weeks, signatures of farmworkers increased to more than 4,000 affirming Atty. Pahilga as their legal counsel, as opposition to Cojuangco-Aquino lackey Noel Mallari who could not claim number of members under his leadership.
“This is like waking up the sleeping giant, the farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita are fed-up of the Cojuangco-Aquinos but could not totally mobilize themselves as they are threatened by the military who transformed civilian structures into detachments at each barangay,” Ramos said.
“We believe that the Cojuangco-Aquinos are afraid of total isolation, when the morality and justice side with the farmworkers. They are trying to prevent the total exposure of president Aquino as their protector, his popularity to wither away swiftly,” he added.
The group said that Hacienda Luisita farmers are strongly supported by multi-sectoral groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Kadamay, Gabriela, Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and many more. They are also supported by partylists Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, ACT and Kabataan.
“The Hacienda Luisita became a rallying issue for land reform and fundamental change. Aquino could not deny that it is his achilles heel. The issue would drain out his plunging popularity. Actually, sectors who supported his presidential campaign have supported the farmworkers on their struggle, thus, in the long run, there would be no one left to believe Aquino’s lies,” Ramos said.
“We from the KMP, AMGL, KASAMA-TK and regional chapters from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao would continue to campaign for land and justice in Hacienda Luisita. This would be a banner call on our major campaign this coming October and January next year. By that time, Noynoy Aquino should be ready to effect change or face the consequences of his anti-peasant and anti-people measures,” Ramos called. #