CONTINUING SAGA OF THE FARMWORKERS OF HACIENDA LUISITA
by Atty. Jobert Ilarde-Pahilga, executive director Sentro Para sa Tunay na
Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), and campaign officer of National Union of
Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
THE ACQUISITION OF THE HACIENDA BY THE COJUANCOS
In 1957, Jose Cojuanco Sr., bought majority shares of the Central
Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), including the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita
from the Spanish company Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas (Tabacalera)
thrug a loan from the Central Bank. The CAT and hacienda are transferred
to Cojuangco’s Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), an agricultural
MARCOS FILED A CASE
On May 7, 1980, the Marcos government filed a case against TADECO before
the RTC of Manila for specific performance to compel defendants TADECO,
and the heirs of the late Jose Cojuangco, Sr. to turn over “Hacienda
Luisita” to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform for the purpose of subdivision
and sale at cost to “small farmers” or “tenants”.
On December 2, 1985, the Manila RTC rendered a decision that orders the
Cojuangcos to transfer control of Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry of
Agrarian Reform, which will distribute the land to small farmers after
compensating the landowners P3.988 million.
The Cojuangcos elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which was
docketed as CA G.R. 08634. March 17, 1988, the Solicitor General, CB
governor and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) filed a motion to
dismiss the civil case against the Cojuangcos pending before the Court of
Appeals on the ground that Hacienda Luisita would be covered by agrarian
reform. Thus, on May 18, 1988, the Court dismissed the case against the
THE STOCK DISTRIBUTION PLAN and MOA
On May 9, 1989, the landowners, along with then DAR Secretary Philip Juico,
Tarlac governor and the mayors of Tarlac City, Concepcion, and La Paz, the
three municipalities covering the hacienda, held referendum among Luisita
farm workers to present the SDO. Thereafter, Juico, Tadeco and HLI signed
Memorandum of Agreement on the SDO.
In the MOA of May 11, 1989, HLI was designated as the SECOND PARTY to
which the TADECO has transferred and conveyed the agricultural portions of
Hacienda Luisita and other farm-related properties in exchange for shares
of stock of the farm workers. The agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita
which was covered by the MOA consisted of 4,915.75 hectares with an
appraised value of P196, 630 million or approximately P40, 000 per
Based on the MOA the farmworkers supposedly owned 33.296% of the
outstanding capital stock of the HLI, which was P355, 531,462 or
355,531,462 shares at 1 peso per share before May 10, 1989. In the stock
distribution plan 33.296% of capital stock or P118, 391,976.85 or
118,391,976.85 shares will be distributed to farmworker beneficiaries
within 30 years. Thus, the P118 million worth of shares of stocks would be
distributed to the farm workers not as a “one-shot deal” but for a period
of thirty years at 1/30 per year
As likewise provided on the MOA, the qualified beneficiaries of the stock
distribution plan shall be the farmworkers who appear in the annual
payroll, inclusive of the permanent and seasonal employees, who are
regularly or periodically employed by the TADECO
Thus, the distribution of the farmworkers’ shares of stock is actually
based on the number of hours of work or mandays in the hacienda. The
mandays in turn, are based on the system of guaranteed mandays, wherein
the management of the HLI allocates the number of mandays available for
manual work. Moreover, if a farmworker will be dismissed from employment
for any cause and therefore his name will not appear in the annual
payroll, he will not receive any shares of stock for the year he was
dismissed onwards. On the otherhand, a newly employed worker, although he
is not a resident of the hacienda and should therefore not be beneficiary
of the SDO, as his name appeared on the annual payroll, will receive such
shares of stock on the basis of his mandays.
DISMISSAL OF FARMWORKERS AND LOW WAGES
In the year 2003, the daily wage for seasonal workers is P199.17 and for
casuals, P194.50 which translates to a maximum of P1, 327.80 and P1, 296,
respectively, per month based on 80 guaranteed mandays. After deductions
for the loans and advance pays, the average take home pay is P18 for the
seasonal, or P9 for the casual for a 2-manday week.
Aside from the diminishing mandays and horrendous and intolerable take
home pay, the area of the land originally placed under SDO likewise
diminished by Land Use Conversion (LUC).
As guaranteed mandays dwindle, massive lay-off of farm workers in
sugar-coated forms like early retirement (replete with quit claim/waiver
documents) or the more direct retrenchment become widespread.
THE LAND USE CONVERSION IN HACIENDA LUISITA
On August 15, 1995, HLI applied for conversion a 500 hectares land of the
On September 1, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan ng Tarlac reclassified 3,290
hectares of hacienda Luisita from agricultural to commercial, industrial
and residential purposes.
On August 14, 1996, DAR approved the conversion of 500 hectares of the
3,290 hectares of reclassified Luisita land and has already been converted
into the Luisita Industrial Park.
The 500 hectares were sold for
over two billion pesos (P2,000,000,000.00) yet, the farmworkers were only
given P37.5 million by treating the same as 3% of gross sale from the
production. In this year of 2006, sixty six (66) hectares is converted to
make way for infrastructure projects like the Subic-Clark-Tarlac
THE PETITIONS FOR THE
REVOCATION OF THE SDO
On September 28, 2003 elections for farm workers’ and supervisors’
representatives to the HLI Board of Directors only 15.26% of the shares
voted thereof. Around 95% of the farm workers boycotted the elections as a
protest to the SDO and because the four board seats were useless against
seven management seats.
On October 14, 2003, the Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. filed
petition before the DAR to revoke SDO, saying the HLI was not giving them
dividends, their one percent (1%) share in gross sales and thirty percent
(33%) share in the proceeds from the conversion of 500 hectares of land.
They likewise cited other violations by the HLI of the MOA and that their
lives have not improved contrary to the promise and the rationale for the
adoption of the SDO.
On October 7, 2003, during the opening of the milling season, more than a
thousand farmworkers gathered to protest the SDO, land-use conversion,
joblessness at the hacienda.
On December 4, 2003, around 80% of the 5,339 farmworkers at the hacienda
through their organization, AMBALA, filed a petition to DAR to nullify and
rescind the SDO and to stop land-use conversion at the hacienda.
THE TASK FORCE LUISITA AND PRESIDENTIAL AGRARIAN REFORM COUNCIL (PARC).
On November 6, 2004, members of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor
Union (CATLU) and members of the United Luisita Workers' Union (ULWU)
simultaneously staged a strike and blocked the mill's Gate 1 and Gate 2.
The strike arose from the deadlock in the negotiations for a collective
bargaining agreement (CBA) between CATLU and HLI (HLI) and the illegal
dismissal of 327 farm workers belonging to ULWU on October 1, 2004.
On November 16, 2004 a violent dispersal of striking workers leave seven
(7) dead, scores were injured. This has been known as the infamous
Hacienda Luisita Massacre.
On November 22, 2004, the DAR issued Special Order No. 789 which called
for the strengthening of the Task Force Stock Distribution Option through
the PARC Secretariat.
On Nov. 25, 2004, the DAR task force stock distribution, later renamed
Task Force Luisita, convened for the first time to discuss the petitions
by Luisita supervisors and farmworkers. Prior thereto, HLI filed with the
DAR its answer to the petition/protest filed by the supervisory group of
respondent Zuniga and Andaya.
On March 15, 2005, DAR deployed 10 teams to 10 barangays within the
hacienda to conduct focus group discussions with 453 farmers concerning
their understanding of SDO, the supposed benefits thereof, the home lots
and other provisions of the agreement, their recommendations on the SDO,
and to determine whether there is truth to the allegations of the
farmworkers that they have been pushed deeper into the quagmire of poverty
by the SDO and MOA.
THE DAR TERMINAL REPORT AND RESOLUTIONS OF PARC.
In July 2005, Task Force Luisita submitted its report on findings and
recommendations to DAR Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman especially as
regards the investigation conducted on March 15, 2005.
In August 2005, Pangandaman created a special legal team to review the
legal issues in the task force’s report.
On September 23, 2005, DAR special legal team submitted its terminal
report on the two petitions, recommending the revocation of the
16-year-old SDO agreement in Hacienda Luisita.
On 23 December 2005, PARC issued Resolution No. 2005-32-01 which
recalled/revoked the SDO plan of TADECO/HLI and placed the lands subject
SDO plan under the compulsory coverage scheme of the CARP.
On January 3, 2006, HLI filed its motion for reconsideration of the said
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND TRO ISSUED BY SC
In February 2006, despite the pendency of the Motion for Reconsideration
it has filed, HLI filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition against
the PARC et al., before the Supreme Court.
Meantime, on May 3, 2006 PARC denied the motion for reconsideration of HLI.
In June 2006, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
which enjoins PARC and DAR to implement/execute the resolution revoking
In June of this year, HLI issued demand letters to the farmwokers to stop
the cultivation of the hacienda. The farmworkers were give deadline until
October 30, 2009. However, the farmworkers defied the demand and the
In October of this year, HLI again issued another letter to the
farmworkers requiring the farmworkers to register with HLI. They were
given until November 15, 2009. But, the farmworkers will again defy the
Report of the
Health Team on the Hacienda Luisita Massacre
A paper submitted by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
and Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR)
to the SENATE COMMITTEE ON LABOR
(12 January 2005, Philippine Senate)
On November 6, 2004, over 5,000 workers and agricultural laborers of
Hacienda Luisita began a strike in order to highlight their demands for
higher wages and better working benefits and conditions, as well as
signify their disgust over the company’s union-busting and unfair labor
practices. These were the main issues that have worsened their already
At the backdrop is the long-standing problem of land. Despite the coverage
of the hacienda under Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in
1987, the Cojuangcos, who were the landowners of the hacienda, opted for
the Stock Distribution Option (SDO). SDO was one of the non-land transfer
schemes that made the CARP beneficiaries supposedly “part-owners” of the
land while virtually maintaining their status as workers or agricultural
laborers. Hence, this historical failure to implement the fundamental
principle of “land to the tiller”, which is the social justice aspect of
land reform, set the tenor for the current struggle within the hacienda.
Immediately after the strike was set, two attempts were made by the local
PNP to break the picket-line and disperse the strikers: the first on the
evening of November 6 itself and the second on the morning of November 7.
Both attempts failed as the number of strikers and their families and
supporters swelled to thousands and bravely defended their positions.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through Secretary Patricia
Sto. Tomas, then took over the issue through the “assumption of
jurisdiction” and immediately issued a “return-to-work” order on November
10. After being largely ignored, Sec. Sto. Tomas then issued an order on
November 15 “deputizing” the AFP Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) to assist
the Philippine National Police-Region 3 and local DOLE officials in
enforcing the “return-to-work” order.
Hence, on November 16, even though the union leaders were still exhausting
all avenues of negotiations with the Cojuangcos, a combined force of an
estimated 700-strong provincial and regional PNP and 17 truckloads of
fully-armed soldiers from the 69th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (PA)
and the 33rd Light Armor Company PA stationed at the NOLCOM entered the
vicinity of Gate 1 near the picket-line. They were accompanied by two V150
armored personnel carriers (APCs) and two fire trucks.
The dispersal of the strikers outside Gate 1 began at around 3:00 p.m.
when the AFP and PNP started shooting teargas canisters into the strikers’
positions. One of the APCs even tried to crash over the barricades set by
the strikers in Gate 1. After failing to do so, shots were suddenly heard
and the strikers started to scamper away. However, the shootings continued
even after the strikers were already fleeing. Many saw other strikers fall
even as they were already trying to run for cover or move out of harm’s
At the end of the violent and brutal dispersal, 7 people were dead and
scores more were wounded, including women and children. Many were
hospitalized for gunshot wounds (GSW) although there were also other
injuries from the mauling that ensued.
The AFP and PNP were quick to deny any wrongdoing. They both claimed that
they fired their weapons in order to defend themselves. Congressman
Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Sec. Eduardo Ermita quickly blamed the
“Leftists and militants” and alleged “agent-provocateurs” who had
supposedly infiltrated the ranks of the workers. Cong. Noynoy only stopped
short of outrightly blaming the strikers for the violence, as the PNP and
AFP were allegedly “only trying to enforce the law.”
This investigation was conducted, therefore, to shed light on the
circumstances surrounding the brutal dispersal in order to determine the
victims, especially the extent of damage to life and limb, and to
determine those who are accountable. This investigation also indirectly
seeks to assist the victims in their quest not just for redress but also
The health team was headed by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and
Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) and included health professionals
(i.e. physicians, nurses), health workers, and health students.
The health team conducted its investigations in three separate occasions:
November 17, November 29, and December 4-5, 2004. The methodology involved
direct interviews and medical check-ups of those who were injured
(including those who were already hospitalized), interviews with relatives
and witnesses of the casualties, direct inspection of the cadaver, and
interviews with local officials and medical personnel, including Dr.
Saturnino S. Ferrer, the physician who conducted the autopsy on five of
the seven casualties.
The team conducted its own documentation, which included signed
affidavits, medical records, photo-documentation, taped interviews, and
records of direct examinations conducted by health team members. The team
also reviewed other pertinent documents available, including review of
relevant affidavits/sworn statements and a review of available videos.
The findings are divided into three parts: findings on the casualties,
findings on the injuries, and findings on the conduct of surrounding
medical facilities and health agencies.
Findings on the casualties
There were seven identified casualties. These were Jhaivie R. Basilio,
Adriano R. Caballero, Jr., Jhune N. David, Jaime B. Fastidio, Jesus V.
Laza, Juancho C. Sanchez, and Jessie M. Valdez. A summary of the
information and findings on each of the casualties is attached as Annex A.
The bodies were brought to different funeral parlors from the site of
incidence. Valdez, however, was reportedly brought to Camp Aquino before
being brought to the funeral parlor where the autopsy was made. There was
a gap of at least 19 hours from the time of incidence to the time the
autopsies were conducted by Dr. Ferrer. It was also within this time gap
that the alleged paraffin tests were done on the casualties.
Based on the data gathered by the health team, the following were
All of the seven died of gunshot wounds, contrary to the report of the
Provincial Health Office that Sanchez died of “severe head injury” and
Laza died of “basal skull fracture”.
Three (i.e. Basilio, David, and Laza) suffered from multiple gunshot
wounds while the other four had single but fatal gunshot wounds.
Except for two gunshot wounds, both of which were sustained by Laza, none
of the 10 gunshot wounds of the other casualties were frontal. All of the
entry wounds were either from the back or from the sides.
Two had other concomitant and suspicious-looking injuries. Basilio had
contusions and lacerations on his face and neck areas, while Sanchez had a
peri-orbital laceration and hematoma of the left eye, contusion hematoma
over the lumbar area, and some discoloration on the feet. These were
consistent with eyewitness accounts that the two were still alive when
taken by the PNP and AFP and were mauled before being shot.
Six of the casualties were workers of Hacienda Luisita and all were
residents of the hacienda. All were in their productive ages and had no
previous severe illness.
Dr. Ferrer also noted “wax-like material” on the bodies of Basilio,
Caballero, and Sanchez. However, the so-called paraffin tests were
conducted without any consent or without being witnessed by relatives of
the deceased, and even now, the document containing the actual results of
the paraffin tests are still to be obtained.
Findings on the injuries
There were at least 121 injured, 44 of whom were seen and interviewed by
the health team. Of the total injured, 108 were male and 6 were female,
while 7 had no data on their sex. 63 were adults (between 20-59 years
old), 11 were children (below 19 years old), 4 were of the geriatric age
group (above 60 years old), and 43 had no age data. All were either
employed in or residents of Hacienda Luisita and many were the
breadwinners of their respective families. A summary of pertinent data on
the injured is attached as Annex B.
Of the total injured, 32 were cases of gunshot wounds (GSW), of which 18
were seen, interviewed, and examined by the health team. Some were serious
enough to warrant hospitalization, especially those with multiple injuries
or multiple GSW. Some are still confined to various hospitals undergoing
surgery. At least 5 of the GSW cases seen by the team still had bullets
lodged inside their bodies.
Based on the clinical histories taken, many of injured were already
running from Gate 1 when they were hit by the bullets. The gunshot wounds
were not sustained from a single volley of fire but from a sustained
volume of fire lasting up to almost 2 minutes.
Other injuries included teargas-related respiratory irritation, fractures
(of the bones), contusions, abrasions, and lacerations, and contusions
from blunt trauma. Most of these injuries were from the use of around 100
teargas canisters and from the ensuing stampede due to the shooting.
However, at least two (one with multiple fractures and one with a
fractured right hand) were the result of being repeatedly bludgeoned by
the PNP with their riot sticks after the shooting.
Findings on the
conduct of hospitals and health institutions
Based on data obtained by the health team, St. Martin de Porres Hospital,
which is the nearest hospital from the site of incidence, being less than
300 meters away from Gate 1, transferred its existing in-patients at least
a day before the incident occurred. Moreover, even before the violent
dispersal was implemented, the hospital was secured by elements of the
Army, aside from the PNP contingent earlier sent there to secure the
hospital entrance. Also, Army medical personnel were already stationed in
the hospital even before the shooting occurred.
The health team also finds the report of the Provincial Health Office
(Annex C) to be flawed. For instance, one of the casualties, Juancho
Sanchez, supposedly died of “severe head injuries” whereas autopsy
findings show that he died of a single gunshot wound penetrating the left
side near the pelvic area that hit his vital organs.
Similarly, the PHO report states that Jesus Laza supposedly died of “basal
skull fracture”. However, the Initial Medico-Legal Report of the PNP Crime
Laboratory signed by Dr. Reynaldo R. Dave, Jr. shows no head and neck
injury and instead notes two GSW to the chest, both of which were fatal.
It merits serious consideration as to how much weight should be given to
the PHO Report given these significant errors, and why these errors were
made in the first place.
Conclusions and recommendations
The health team finds adequate substantial evidence to state that the
strikers of Hacienda Luisita were shot not “as a defensive stance” or
because the PNP and AFP “were provoked” but rather as a direct armed
offensive assault on the picket line. This assertion is supported by: a)
the number and types of injuries and deaths, b) the character of the
injuries and physical findings, and c) the volume and length of gunfire
sustained against the strikers.
Moreover, the GSWs suffered by those who were killed and injured dispel
any and all allegations that the PNP and AFP elements who fired their guns
were doing so because they were under some sort of threat. Not even the
alleged paraffin tests, conducted under dubious circumstances by the very
same agency under question, can justify the blatant use of firearms,
automatic and high-powered at that, against unarmed civilians. These are
gross violations of the basic human rights of the strikers.
There is also no doubt that there was an excessive use of force during the
November 16 incident. What is disturbing, however, is the fact that this
excessive use of force is deliberate and intentional. Again, the injuries
sustained by those who died and those who survived attest to this. The
types and severity of the injuries belie any randomness and instead, point
to a dangerous kind of recklessness spurred by an overarching intent to
cause or inflict harm. There were even severe injuries due to blunt trauma
sustained immediately after the shooting. The brutality of the dispersal
thus casts a pall of shame on the PNP and serves as a grim reminder of why
the AFP is prohibited from the picket lines.
Lastly, the findings of the health team point strongly to an element of
premeditation rather than spontaneity (as is being alleged by the AFP and
PNP), as regards the shooting. The size of the kill zone, as well as the
volume of fire, as traced from the clinical histories, the character of
the injuries, and the positions of the victims and casualties, all
validate the element of premeditation. The events surrounding the St.
Martin de Porres Hospital further corroborate this.
The health team, therefore, recommends that the findings and conclusions
drawn by this report be investigated further and validated by other
independent sources. First of all, the victims should be given immediate
and adequate redress, through indemnification, of the damages and injuries
to life and limb caused upon them to suffer.
Second, there should be a swift and decisive accounting of the
responsibility for the deaths and injuries, not only from the AFP and PNP
units involved but also from the government agencies (viz., DOLE, DILG,
DND, and DAR) and the local government units. Appropriate administrative
and criminal charges should immediately be filed.
Finally, if there is a genuine desire from the current dispensation to
address the root causes of the conflict in Hacienda Luisita, President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should look closer and heed the demands of the
working masses, the workers and agricultural laborers, for land, jobs,
wages, and rights. Rather than merely dismissing this problem as a “purely
labor issue”, the GMA administration should implement genuine agrarian
reform and institute the much needed social justice demanded by the
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ON THE CASUALTIES
Name/Personal Information/Autopsy Findings
Jhavie Basilio 20/male; single, hacienda worker 2 GSW (1 on the chest and
1 on the left buttocks) + contusions and lacerations on the head and neck
Adriano Caballero, Jr./23/male; married, caddie in the hacienda/1 GSW on
the left side of the chest
Jhune David 28/male; married,/ hacienda farm worker/2 GSW (1 on the
zygomatic region and 1 on the trapezoid region)
Jaime Fastidio/46/male; married, hacienda laborer/1 GSW on the mandibular
area through the neck
Jesus Laza 34/male; single, hacienda worker/2 GSW on the pectoral region
Juancho Sanchez/20/male; single, hacienda resident 1 GSW on the left
pelvic area + peri-orbital laceration and hematoma of the left eye,
contusion hematoma over the lumbar area, and some discoloration on the
Jessie Valdez 30/male; married, hacienda laborer/1 GSW on the right thigh
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ON THE INJURED
Total injured: 121
Total seen by the health team: 44
All were either employed in or residents of Hacienda Luisita
Many were the breadwinners of their respective families
Breakdown by sex: Male – 108
Female – 6
No data – 7
Breakdown by age: Children (< 19 years) – 11
Adults (>19 and <60 years) – 63
Geriatric (>60 years) – 4
No data – 43
No. of Gunshot Wounds (GSW): 32
GSW seen by the health team: 18
Some were serious enough to warrant hospitalization, especially those with
multiple injuries or multiple GSW
Some are still confined to various hospitals undergoing surgery
At least 5 of the GSW cases seen by the team still had bullets lodged
inside their bodies.
Other concomitant injuries:
1. teargas-related respiratory irritation
2. fractures (of the bones)
6. contusions from blunt trauma