Chief Justice Corona, 14 other justices told: “Farm workers can’t wait another 53 years to have Luisita”—militant groups

Supporters of striking Hacienda Luisita farm workers belonging to the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today told Chief Justice Renato Corona and 14 other justices of the Supreme Court that farm workers inside the Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate had already waited for 53 long years to have Luisita under collective ownership, and they will not subscribe to another 43 years of social injustice.

Warning the high tribunal of another social unrest which could surpass the 2004 strike in Hacienda Luisita that commenced with massacre of seven farm workers, the injury of more than 100 farm workers and the illegal arrest of another 100 plus sugar workers and supporters, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and UMA national coordinator Edna Velarde appealed to Chief Justice Corona and his peers to decide in favor of the collective interest of 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries inside the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation.   

“From 1957 to 2010, the Cojuangco-Aquino fiefdom corporation made them slaves, which is comparable to the situation of slaves during the slaveholding society. They were paid P 9.50 per day not even enough to buy a kilo of NFA rice and they were compelled to work for 30 years just to acquire stockholder status in HLI. Is this right honorable justices of the Supreme Court?” Ramos and Velarde said in a joint statement.

“Injustice and warlordism still reign in Luisita, therefore we ask the Chief Justice and his peers to make a landmark ruling that will stop the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III from continuing a wholesale heinous crime,” both leaders added.

The vast tract of sugar lands should have been distributed to Hacienda Luisita farm workers in 1967 based on the agreement between the Cojuangco and the former owner of the sugar plantation, that after 10 years, the sugar estate shall be distributed to farm workers.

In 1957, the Cojuangco sought loans from GSIS to finance the operation of the sugar estate on the same condition that the owners and management of Hacienda Luisita will award to the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to farm workers after 10 years.

As the Supreme Court begins its oral arguments today, about 2,000 peasant activists mainly from Hacienda Luisita based groups—United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), the farmers groups Amihan national peasant women federation, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya gathered at the gate of the high tribunal to demand the high court to junk the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and invalidate the compromise deal between the HLI management and a clique of farm workers who according to anti-compromise deal groups, were coopted by the management.  

Kasama-TK said some 200 farmers from the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna, landless tillers from the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Nasugbu, Batangas, sugar workers in the 7,813 hectares Hacienda Roxas also in Nasugbu, the farmers in the 12,000 hectare Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas , agrarian reform beneficiaries in the 2,400 hectare Hacienda Puyat also in Nasugbu, Batangas and landless farmers in the 2,014 hectare Hacienda Agoncillo in Laurel, Batangas joined today’s protest at the Supreme Court against the sham HLI compromise deal.

In Cebu City, farmers and fisherfolk belonging to KMP, Amihan national federation of peasant women and Pamalakaya will stage a mass action against the Luisita deal. The groups had earlier asked Cebu Archbishop Cardinal Vidal, an influential Roman Catholic leader, to condemn the compromise agreement.

In Bacolod City, farmers, sugar workers, peasant women and fisherfolk which are members of KMP, Amihan, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Pamalakaya will also stage a protest rally. The KMP said their chapters are also expected to lead mass actions in Legazpi City in Albay, Tacloban City in Leyte, Davao City, Butuan City and other major cities in Mindanao Island. Details of these planned protests are still being finalized as of press time.  #   

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