The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the only way to end the Hacienda Luisita dispute is for the Cojuangco-Aquinos to give up lands to its legitimate farmer-beneficiaries.  In addition, any form of non-land transfer schemes such as the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) or any modifications of it would only worsen the present agrarian dispute.

“The Supreme Court’s suggestion of mediation between the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the farmworkers belonging to the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) should conclude into giving the lands to the farmer-beneficiaries or the unrest would continue to protract,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

“We support the legitimate and moral claim of the farmworkers and condemn the continuing deception being exhorted by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.  The high court’s independence and integrity are also at stake as there is overflowing justification that SDO has failed and the lands should be given to the farmers.  The only way for the Cojuangco-Aquinos to keep the lands is through the massive utilization of power, corruption and lies,” he added.

On August 24 oral argument at the Supreme Court, AMBALA legal counsel Atty. Jobert Pahilga of Sentra Foundation was able to question the representation of Cojuangco-Aquino lackey Noel Mallari.  In addition, Atty. David Erro presented sufficient bases why SDO should be revocated and lands distributed to the farmworkers.  Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco and Chief Justice Reynato Corona suggested the mediation and proposed that lawyers of AMBALA could freely consult with their clients inside the hacienda.

“As the Atty. Pahilga said at the oral arguments, the mediation should be beyond the framework of the SDO or anything like it, as it is the very issue being deliberated, otherwise, it is deemed to fail.  Atty. Pahilga also affirmed that it should be for the benefit of the farmworkers and not the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Ramos added.

The group is also anticipating the consultation of Atty. Pahilga’s group to the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita.  The group is planning to join the consultation to document the military’s actions.

“The very requirement for this is the pull-out of the military, as their presence threatens those who are oppose of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.  Leaders and members of AMBALA and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) are constantly harassed, thus, they could not even hold an assembly,” Ramos said.

KMP said that the issue of Hacienda Luisita is the very evidence of landlessness in the country.  Thousands of hectares has been under the control of one family with tens of thousands Filipino farmworkers and their families are subjected to deep poverty and misery.  Thus, the group is planning nationwide protests to support the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmers this coming October and November.  They are to pressure president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to convince his family to give up Hacienda Luisita.

“We have a president who keeps his hands off very important issues of the country.  He expose himself as negligent of the land issue over the country and worse, he is not a positive force for the Filipino peasantry.  It is pretty evident that he has no loyalty to the people but to his family,” Ramos said.

The group vowed to continue to struggle for genuine land reform in Hacienda Luisita, whatever comes out of the mediation.  

“The only constructive end of the issue is for the lands to go to the farmworkers.  Institutions such as the Supreme Court and the executive are at stake with the Hacienda Luisita issue, the prospect of the dispute would definitely serve as a turning point to the Aquino presidency,” he added.  #

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