The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) contradicted the reports that Hacienda Luisita farmworkers were not coerced into participating to the “sham” referendum sponsored by the Cojuangco-Aquino-controlled Hacienda Luisita, Inc.  The group said that farmworkers were already subjected to an atmosphere of “fear” and de facto martial law when they were massacred on November 16, 2004 and soldiers used civilian structures such as barangay halls as detachment until present.

“We totally belie that they are not coerced when actually soldiers never left their communities and employed a martial law rule on the people,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General said in a press statement.

“Soldiers were there at Bgy. Balete when we held the commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2009, and they were there when we went to talk to Bgy. Chair Renato Luna on July 21 requesting the covered court as venue for our anniversary. He totally rejected our request without saying any valid reason but choose a different barangay as venue.   There is an atmosphere of ‘fear’ among residents as soldiers are everywhere,” Ramos said.

“We also asked why the military is based at his barangay and is there any reason for them to be there, Bgy. Chair Luna simply said that he doesn’t know why they are there,” Ramos added.

The group said that leaders and members of Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) reported that the military is already based on 8 out of 10 barangays inside Haicneda Luisita.  They are continously conducting house-to-house, looking for leaders and knowing their faces as one of the leaders from Bgy. Mapalacsiao has experienced.

AMBALA reported that since May this year, soldiers from the 701st Infantry Battalion began massive military operations at the area, patrolling and conducting house-to-house operations.  The military said that they were to secure the then incoming elections but still at present they are inside Hacienda Luisita.  The military is based at Bgy. Balete, Lourdes (Texas), Pasajes (Mabilog), San Sebastian (Parang), Motrico, Pando, Cutcut, Mapalacsiao, Asturias and Bantog.

“Now we know why the military based at the Hacienda Luisita, to sow fear and terror to the people and to coerced them into participating to this bogus referendum led by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.  The people could never feel secure and free when soldiers under the control of Cojuangco-Aquinos are everywhere, there is no democracy in Hacienda Luisita, there is only de-facto martial law, thus, this so-called referendum is nothing but ‘moro-moro’ and a high-form of bullying to the farmworkers,” Ramos added.

AMBALA also reported that the soldiers ordered barangay security officials to report those who are non-residents and visitors of Hacienda Luisita.  Students, church people and other supporters of farmworkers are always being subjected to surveillance and questioning.

Also last June, Luisito Flores a member of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), based on his affidavit, a certain Lt. Corpuz called on him on June 12 and warned him not to associate with partylists such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and other militant organizations.

Then on June 28, when they were building a training center for a food security project, security forces of the Luisita Estate Managment (LEM) in civilian clothes warned them to secure a permit before constructing the building.  Again, on the afternoon Lt. Corpuz went at his home and warned him not to continue with the construction.  The next day, Bgy. Balete Chair Luna scolded him about not informing him about the project and said that a certain Buena Timbol, a secretary at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) warned him of the project.  Chair Luna sent him to the CAT office and there Timbol prohibited them from constructing the structure.

“It is very clear that the Cojuangco-Aquinos, with the aid of the military continues to employ martial rule over Hacienda Luisita, a mere project for food security was forbidden when it is obviously for the benefit of the farmworkers,” Ramos said.

“In addition, they don’t have the right to forbid those kinds of project as the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) is still at the Supreme Court, and the lands are actually property of the farmworkers,” he added.

The group said that militarization never ceased in Hacienda Luisita.  The militar is always on the servitude of the Cojuangco-Aquino to terrorize and threaten the farmworkers.  It is the very same situation they implemented during the 1989 referendum on the SDO.

“The very proof that militarization exists in Hacienda Luisita is the Hacienda Luisita massacre, that killed 7 striking farmworkers, the series of extra-judicial killings that victimized even a city councilor, barangay chair and a supporter church leader.  The victims are yet to receive justice, thus, this is the very message the military is conveying the struggling farmworkers, ‘resist or be killed,’” Ramos said.

“Thus, if they claim that farmworkers are not coerced into participating the referendum, they should immediately pull-out the military, permanently ban them from entering Hacienda Luisita and harassing the farmworkers. If the military continues to be deployed in the hacienda, this simply means that the Cojuangco-Aquinos and Noynoy Aquino is only capable pursuing SDO with the help of the military and of promoting bogus or sham democracy just as what he is doing the whole country,” Ramos called. #


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