Hacienda Luisita farmworkers call to junk SDO
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) condemned the stance of Cojuanco-Aquino-controlled the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) not to give up the lands even through government-facilitated land valuation as result of the futile mediation led by a panel formed by the Supreme Court.  KMP said that it is a clear and unquestionable proof that president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III totally lied during his presidential campaign when he promised he would distribute the lands in 5 years time.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are totally exposed in front of the Supreme Court, the Filipino people, the whole country and the world.  Aquino and his family affirmed they want to keep control over the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita, the feudal control over vast lands and impose unimaginable poverty to the farmworkers.  Noynoy Aquino should be ashamed of himself,” Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

The group said that the bogging down of the mediation was primarily caused by HLI’s hard stance, the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ feudal attitude and greed as they asked for P1-million per hectare as compensation for the lands.    This showed that the feudal family had no plans of giving up the lands even before the start of the oral arguments at the high court on August 18.

“This marks Aquino’s future and he proved himself that he is not for the interest of the people, social justice and democracy.  He is just a plain dirty old single man trying to keep their feudal control over vast lands,” Ramos said.

The group also commended the correct action of the farmworkers led by the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) to firmly call for the high court to decide on the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) based on merits.  The groups walked-out of the mediation on September 20 when the talks were kept heading for SDO and referendum.  The walk-out has demolished the legitimacy and legal basis of the mediation as AMBALA and ULWU are the majority stake-holders of the issue.

“At present, it is a deadlock, but the moral and just grounds and legitimacy is on the side of the farmworkers and the Cojuangco-Aquinos are full of lies, deception and greed.  As proof, some sectors who supported Aquino during the elections are now supporting the struggle of the farmworkers,” Ramos said.

KMP also acclaimed the concrete programs of AMBALA and ULWU on the lands of Hacienda Luisita.  The sincere agenda of the groups paved the way for the massive support for the revocation of the SDO as showed by the 4,100 signatures of farmworkers who affirmed that they are represented by Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo Foundation (SENTRA) Executive Trustee Atty. Jobert Pahilga.

“The ‘bungkalan’ (cultivation) led by the groups has physically benefited the poor farmworkers and it is the total opposite of SDO which is full of empty promises serving the interest of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.  More than 2,000-hectares are already planted with rice, more lands are planted with fruits and vegetables.  These used to be planted with sugarcane with only the Cojuangco-Aquinos to make use of.  This is genuine land reform on practice,” said Ramos.

The group said that Aquino is trapped in declaring a “hands-off” policy on the issue of Hacienda Luisita.  Aquino is the chair of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the very body during the Arroyo government who decided that SDO should be revocated.

“If he keeps his hands off the issue, he would just continue making a fool of himself.  As being chair of the PARC, he is duty-bound to push for its official decision on the Hacienda Luisita issue, that is to revoke the SDO.  His gross disregard or ignorance of his duties would finally destroy his dwindling popularity,” Ramos added.

“Thus, we support the farmworkers’ struggle and we call on many others to join.  Hacienda Luisita is really the quicksand of Aquino, the more he mix-up, the more he exposes himself as unworthy of being a president,” Ramos called. #

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