Relatives of victims of the Nov.16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre said they were puzzled why President Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III did not mention anything about the fate of the 6,453-hectare sugar estate and on the sorry state of agrarian reform in the country during his inaugural speech at Quirino Grandstand in Manila yesterday.

Federico Laza, father of Jesus Laza, one of the 7 victims of the Nov.16 massacre urged President Aquino to immediately put closure to all issues surrounding the Cojuangco-Aquino owned sugar plantation in favor of striking farm workers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Laza, a member of the Luisita based farm worker groups United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) reminded President Aquino that he is now the President of the 15th Republic and it is his job and duty to address the issue of social justice beyond the narrow landed interest of his family.

Speaking before some 500 peasant and fisherfolk activists in Mendiola this morning, Laza said:” The Luisita farm workers humbly submit this collective appeal to President Aquino to lead his family and the relative stockholders of Hacienda Luisita in withdrawing the temporary restraining order filed before the Supreme Court, void the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and allow the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to execute its decision to have the 6,453-hectare sugar estate distributed for free to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries. Please do your assignment in the name of social justice and accountability.”

Now on the second day of their 100 Days of Peasant Camp-Out for Land and Justice, some 500 farmers and fisherfolk belonging to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), AMIHAN peasant women federation, Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan and the Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) also noticed President Aquino never mentioned any policy statement on Luisita and land reform.

 “We challenge the Aquino administration to make a big difference and make history by announcing the immediate and unconditional distribution of Luisita lands for free to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.   

Ramos’ sentiment was also shared by peasant groups in Southern Tagalog. Kasama-TK chairperson Guillermo Bautista also urged President Aquino to act with dispatch on big land reform cases in the region.

Bautista said President Aquino should look into the cases of land reform disputes in Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas involving 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands where around 10,000 farmers were denied of their agrarian reform rights.  Another case he mentioned was the agrarian dispute in Hacienda Yulo involving 7,100 hectares of former sugar lands now being converted by the Yulo landed clan in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna.

The Kasama-TK leader also urged Aquino to pullout the deployment of government troops in areas of agrarian disputes in the region. Bautista said the Philippine Army had deployed over 40 heavily armed government troops inside Hacienda Yulo, which he said was uncalled for and patently illegal.

Bautista also urged Aquino to order Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima to withdraw all fabricated and politically motivated charges filed against leaders of Kasama-TK, KMP and Pamalakaya leaders in the region.

Meanwhile KMP and Pamalakaya leaders reiterated their calls to Aquino to place former President now Pampanga Rep.  Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest and the ex-President’s passport and other travel documents cancelled to make sure the former President who is facing pending cases of plunder and other criminal offenses and would face again similar cases on various counts will be present once the investigation of the Truth Commission started and the DoJ and the Office of the Ombudsman begins their respective parallel probe on complaints filed before the offices.

“The highest level of vigilance and engagement in the name of truth, justice and accountability is highly required and at the same time a political necessity because we don’t want our people’s collective interest and demand for the prosecution and immediate imprisonment of Arroyo to be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation. We have also this strong gut feeling that the US government will intervene to stop the Aquino administration from pursuing the people’s cases against GMA,”  said KMP and Pamalakaya.

On June 2004, about two weeks after the 2004 presidential elections, KMP and Pamalakaya together with their regional and provincial chapters filed a plunder complaint against President Arroyo and officials of the Department of Agriculture in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.

In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies. #

July 1, 2010
Contact Person:  Roy Morilla, KMP information officer
Contact No:  0907-418-0098

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)/ Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)/ Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), AMIHAN-National Federation of Peasant Women/ Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK)/ United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU)/ Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala)/ Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL)

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