Bungkalan 2011 at Hacienda Luisita


In the absence of a genuine agrarian reform program and not wanting to wait forever,

farmers in Negros and Hacienda Luisita and elsewhere  collectively cultivate idle lands, 

the concretization of their struggle for land and justice



Posted: July 16, 2011



■   Bunkalan 2010 at Hacienda Luisita          ■   Bunkalan 2010 in Negros







Photos courtesy of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson ;(AMGL)

Visit AMGL website





July 16, 2011
Joseph Canlas, Chair, AMGL (0918-233-5050)

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers commence with their “bungkalan,” till lands fenced by RCBC

More than 200 farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita belonging to the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala, Farmworkers Alliance in Hacienda Luisita) and United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu) commenced to cultivate the 500-hectare fenced by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) at Brgy. Balite, Tarlac City. They are supported by the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (Amt), Karapatan-Tarlac, Fr. Greg Obejas of Luisitia Peasant and People’s Alliance (Luppa) and barangay council of Brgy. Balite. Ambala is a member-organization of Amgl.

“The Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are the legitimate owners of the 500-hectare lands being claimed by the RCBC. The Cojuangco are the ones who sold them, they should be charging them, thus, we are now cultivating these lands,” said Lito Bais, acting president of Ulwu.

“We are here to support the farmworkers as their struggle is ours, they are pushing for genuine land reform here in Hacienda Luisita,” said Fidel Castro, Amgl vice-chairperson.

Ambala added that they are starting the cultivation of the lands as these have been unproductive for many years. In addition, many farmworkers of Brgy. Balite have no source of livelihood, thus, they are the primary beneficiaries of this “bungkalan” (cultivation). This is also their manifestation that farmworkers demand land, not stocks, as the Supreme Court decided for a referendum on July 5.

“We are now using 2 handtractors and waiting for the tractor to speed up the uprooting of grass and weeds. We have now here at the camp-out seeds of vegetables such as okra, patola, squash and string beans. Some farmworkers also brought young trees to be planted,” Bais said.

Upon occupation of the lands, 8 security guards employed by RCBC approached the farmworkers and argued against their activity but Ambala and Ulwu leaders asserted their rights. While negotiations, farmworkers commenced the cultivation using their “gulok” (bolos) and hoes.

In addition, Rowena Galang, Ambala leader and wife of Ulwu president Rene Galang said that farmworkers residing at Brgy. Balite have been demanding the cultivation of the land as they have no source of livelihood. Galang said that farmworkers who are enlisting stating their intention to cultivate have been increasing. She is estimating that 400 farmworkers would totally cultivate the 500-hectares claimed by RCBC.

“We are setting-up our tents to serve as our cultivation center so that tilling would be as collective as possible. We have surveyed about 10-hectares parcelled 1-hectare each allocated for each farmworker who intends to cultivate it,” Galang said.

Galang added that the cultivation center would also serve as an outpost to guard against displacement, to accept supporters from different sectors, venues for educational discussions, solidarity programs and more.

Galang also briefed the farmworkers that they should abide by the policies decided by Ambala and Ulwu. The most essential is that they should work on the land and leasing them to others is prohibited, doing so would cancel out their right to till and be passed onto other farmworkers. She added that leasing the awarded land would only result into returning it to the Cojuangco-Aquinos. She encouraged the farmworkers to defend the lands to the fullest as these would be their source of livelihood starting today.

“We are now at the stage of fortifying the cultivation center, soliciting support so that we could acquire the materials we need, to rent a tractor to speed up the cultivation and finalizing the list of farmworkers that would till the land. We are also organizing them into groups to man the cultivation center,” Galang said.

Farmworkers from Brgy. Balite said that they have been waiting for this day as they have no source of livelihood. Most of them are kin to the original farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita. They claim that their barangay has been targeted by threat and harassment such as the military deployment who is based at the barangay hall. Soldiers regularly check on their household and conduct patrols around the village. They have also condemned the collusion between some barangay officials and the Cojuangcos.

Amgl has been supporting Ambala since its founding, especially during the November 2004 strike. Farmers from different towns of Tarlac are presently supporting the farmworkers. Amgl mobilizes farmers from different provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Zambales, Aurora, Pampanga and Bulacan.

“We would stay here as long as they need us, president Aquino should be ashamed of himself as today, the farmworkers have decided to till the lands, they want genuine land reform as every farmer in Central Luzon and other regions have been longing for centuries,” Castro said.

Amgl and Ambala called other sectors to visit them at their camp-out at Brgy. Balite to show their support for their bungkalan and struggle against the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and referendum.

In addition, various national groups have expressed support to the cultivation of Hacienda Luisita. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) are closely coordinating with Ambala leaders. Pamalakaya-Pilipinas have sent delegation to actually join the cultivation.


Amgl chairperson Joseph Canlas sent his message of support and declared that the day is historical for the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, Central Luzon farmers and of other regions. Canlas is an active leader supporting the plight of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, especially during the November 2004 strike.

“The cultivation is the most concrete proof that farmworkers want land, not stocks, not referendum. The Supreme Court, Dept. of Agrarian Reform and president Aquino should closely watch the development of cultivation and witness the swelling support of many sectors,” Canlas said.

“The free and immediate land distribution is the real demand of the farmworkers and not being a stockholder of a Cojuangco-controlled corporation, not a land distribution through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer) or any deceptive schemes the Aquino government could think of,” he added.

Canlas assured that farmers from different provinces would flock at Brgy. Balite to show their support and show the Filipino people of the real and legitimate demands of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. He also asked the public to visit and see for themselves that the farmworkers demand land and not stocks. #

Some pictures of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers "Bungkalan", July 15, 2011, Brgy. Balite, Tarlac City




July 15, 2011

BAYAN urges massive boycott of Hacienda Luisita referendum

Reference: Roman Polintan
Chair, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luson (BAYAN-GL)
Mobile Phone No. 09064696358
Fabian G. Hallig, Actg. Sec.-Gen., BAYAN-GL
Mobile Phone No. 09216654983

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luson (BAYAN-GL) has urged the 5,000 farm workers of the Hacienda Luisita to massively boycott the Supreme Court-decreed referendum and to launch direct political action calling for immediate land distribution to assert their ownership of the sugar estate land.

The group also condemned the Supreme Court order as outrageously pro-Cojuangco-Aquino and against the legitimate interests of the farm workers, saying “it reveals the true nature of the judiciary as protector of the interests of the landlord and other exploiting classes.”

Roman Polintan, Bayan-GL chair, said the referendum order is an attempt to unjustly wipe out the farm workers’ gains in their struggle for land and job and against land monopoly of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. It also aims to cast aside and put to oblivion their cry for justice for the martyrs of the Hacienda Luisita massacre, the militant leader added.

“There is no sense in the Supreme Court’s revoking the stocks distribution option (SDO) and in the same breathe consider it as a valid option in settling the land ownership dispute. This, despite the fact that the farm workers themselves have already rejected the SDO when they staged their strike in November 2004 and demanded for land distribution, an aspiration sealed with the blood of the massacre victims and other martyrs.” Polintan decried.

Polintan said the farm workers are justified to defy the ordered referendum because this is just meant to legitimize SDO as an option under the CARPER law of the Aquino II administration. “Its adverse implication to the farmers’ interest is far-reaching as it serves to thwart their aspiration and perpetuate land monopoly of the landlords,” he stressed.

The group also scored President Aquino’s lackadaisical attitude towards the plight of the farm workers by claiming he has already divested his shares in the sugar estate. “This attitude reflects the anti-farmer character of his government amidst its posturing for pro-people programs and cosmetic reforms,” the Bayan-GL chair observed.


As a form of direct assertion of their right to the land, Bayan-GL urged the farm workers to till the entire agricultural land of the Hacienda Luisita, in effect expanding the coverage of their “Bungkalan” (collective farm) which they have successfully undertaken as part of their struggle.

It also called for massive and sustained mass protest actions within Tarlac City to provide the 5,000 members of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) along with members of other militant groups a venue for ventilating their demands for immediate land distribution, justice for the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre and other political killings, the junking of the CARPER Law and passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill in Congress.

Last Monday, farmers groups led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Union ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) staged a protest action in the National Capital Region to dramatize their demands.

Polintan said this protest action should be complemented in the home province of President Aquino to underscore his kabalens’ discontent and ultimately rally them behind the call for ouster of the incompetent and pro-landlord US-Aquino regime. ###




July 13, 2011

Dear friends,

The present moment is crucial for the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers.

The Philippine Supreme Court decided on the Hacienda Luisita issue favorably to the Cojuangco-Aquinos. It revoked the Stock Distribution Plan (SDP) implemented but not the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that clearly caused poverty and hardship to the farmworkers. The farmworkers are demanding land distribution but the high court ordered the referendum of forcing them to choos between being a “stockholder” of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) or land distribution through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” (CARPer) or Republic Act 9700.

The choices given to the farmworkers are a “win-win” solution or both serving the Cojuangco-Aquinos. If farmworkers choose stocks, the Cojuangco-Aquinos shall maintain control of the land, allowing them to dispose, encash and cover it to a massive land use conversion program such as the Hacienda Luisita Economic Zone as part of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s promotion of the “W Corridor” Central Luzon development plan. Thus, farmworkers are doomed to be displaced, their rights to land abolished and the feudal control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos is affirmed.

If the farmworkers choose land, the land would be covered by CARPer, where it is provisioned that farmer-beneficiaries should request attestation from the Cojuangco-Aquinos that they are indeed tenants, the farmworkers are obliged to compensate the Cojuangco-Aquinos at a price the latter have dictated which eventually the former could not afford leading to his or her ejectment. Even in coverage, the threat of the land being exempted or Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) being cancelled still exists.

Therefore, the referendum is a booby trap for the farmworkers.

The members under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) are the legitimate farmworkers of the hacienda and they demand free and immediate land distribution. History is on their side, particularly on how sullied the Cojuangco-Aquinos acquired the 6,453-hectares formerly controlled by the Spanish agro-corporation Tabacalera. Tabacalera succumbed to the struggle of Hukbalahap for land reform during the 1950s and former president Ramon Magsaysay facilitated the transfer to the landlord icon Jose “Don Pepe” Cojuangco, Sr. using public funds under the condition that it would be distributed to the farmworkers in 1967. Even the Chief Justice Renato Corona affirms that the land should belong to the farmworkers.

The Hacienda Luisita issue is a landmark in Philippine history. It connects the oppressive character of the Spanish colonization, preserved through American and Japanese occupations and the rule of landlord-dominated regimes until the present represented by the landlord Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, the grandson of Don Pepe Cojuangco. His mother former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino fortified their control by cancelling the government claim of the lands and implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that incorporated the Stock Distribution Option (SDO). In 1989, the Cojuangco-Aquinos held a referendum and claimed majority of the farmworkers approved of the SDO. In reality, farmworkers claimed that the Cojuangco-Aquinos fully used their power and influence like a traditional politician, using “guns, goons and gold,” “lupa o kaldero,” massive militarization, harassment, intimidation and threat.

SDO’s consequence to the lives of the farmworkers is history. The farmworkers were forced to work on the sugar plantation as mere laborers, unable to discern that they are “co-owners” of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. To earn from their stocks, they should work, but the workhours or “mandays” are systematically being slashed off by the Cojuangco-Aquinos, essentially cutting off their rights to the corporation, promised to give them a better future than directly cultivating the land. Farmworkers who are in deep poverty suffered to receive a take-home pay of P9.50 for a day’s work. The farmworkers who are supposed to be “co-owners” are being wiped out as the number of “regular farmworkers” are being reduced. The number of casual workers and “sakada” are also increasing, being exploited and giving more power and control to the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

All these hardship pushed them to wage the strike on November 6, 2004. As the operation in the sugar central has stopped, the Cojuangco-Aquinos have colluded with the corrupt Arroyo government to deploy an overkill-force of police and military. On November 10, 2004, Arroyo’s labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas issued an “assumption of jurisdiction” which simply means that the strike should end, otherwise it is deemed illegal. The Cojuangco-Aquinos and Arroyos united to repress the farmworkers.

On November 15, 400-strong police force attempted to disperse the 4,000-strong picketline and the farmworkers prevailed.

On November 16, government forces were beefed up reaching to 17 truckload of military forces, two tanks with heavy weapons and four firetrucks. They are accompanied with snipers, and armed with countless teargas canisters. The same day, United Luisita Workers’ Union Rene “Ka Boyet” Galang, accompanied by Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo tried to dialogue with Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. But the landlord Peping Cojuangco refused to negotiate with Ka Boyet as he affirm that he is already dismissed as a farmworker of HLI. Peping Cojuangco said “Bahala na ang DOLE dyan,” (It’s up to the labor deparment). Also, Ka Satur tried to contact labor secretary Sto. Tomas but she could not be reached.

On the afternoon at the picketline, the dispersal operations have began and the police and military used all they have. Initially using teargas, watercannons, tanks, then finally firing at the striking farmworkers. They have confirmed killed 7 farmworkers, as claims of more deaths circulated at the hacienda, including the death of a sakada and his daughter who succumbed to the fatal teargas. Unconfirmed reports also tell that dead bodies were burned at the furnace of the sugar central. The Hacienda Luisita Massacre killed Jesus Laza, 34, Juancho Sanchez, 20, Jhune David, 27, Jhayvie Basilio, 20, Jaime Fastidio, 46, Adrian Caballero, 23, and Jesse Valdez, 30. Jesus Laza’s painful death was even captured in video.

After more than 6 years, justice remain elusive for the victims and president Aquino who himself is involved with a shooting incident of George Loveland and Ernesto Ramos on January 5, 2005, is in vain avoiding the issue. During the electoral campaign, Aquino promised to distribute the hacienda in 5 years and said he suggested his relatives to find ways to transfer the lands to the farmworkers. But when he became president and during the Cojuangco-Aquinos pushing of the sham compromise deal on August 2010, he said that the issue is an “intra-corporate” dispute, thus, he is adopting a “hands off” policy. Now, he is pronouncing to leave it to the decision of the Supreme Court when the said order is clearly favorable to his family. We should not forget that during the oral arguments, Aquino did not affirm the very decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) that he chairs, revoking the SDO.

Based on Aquino’s actions (or inaction), he and his family’s treatment to the farmworkers is inhumane, incosiderate and insensitive. Aquino has affirmed their landlord interest of Hacienda Luisita when historically they have defrauded the Filipino people when his grandfather used public fund to acquire the land. He has also no intention of realizing genuine land reform in the country, an exact opposite of his promise of “matuwid na daan” (straight path) or fundamental reforms as farmers in Hacienda Luisita, as well as in Central Luzon and other regions suffer land grabbing, displacement and rights abuses. Aquino is a traitor to the Filipino people. He has betrayed the Filipino farmers who are the majority of our society, as well as other marginalized sectors who day-by-day are struggling to survive


Thus, the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers led by AMBALA takes on an important role. Facing the Aquino government, they are frontrunners of peasant struggle for genuine land reform, equality and real democracy. AMBALA continues to struggle for their rights to land, facing the fascist attack instigated by Aquino’s family. They were massacred but they are clearly standing and demanding free land distribution, not stocks, not referendum, not CARPer, but land.

They may just be within the 6,453-hectares land area in Tarlac City, La Paz and Concepcion towns, but they represent our society. They are oppressed and exploited by a landlord clan, the present ruling clique, powerful and influential, they are exactly the same as all the poor sectors in our country. Their struggle is a struggle for social justice, freedom and democracy.


We should all be supporting AMBALA on their struggle for genuine land reform and social justice. We from Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon) as AMBALA’s regional farmers organization, appeal to all sectors to support AMBALA. They are facing a poweful landlord family, defended by president Aquino and the government’s corrupt institutions such as the Dept. of Agrarian Reform and Supreme Court. AMBALA all have are their united strength and our support.

We could materialize our support by visiting them inside Hacienda Luisita. We should embrace courage as the hacienda is heavily militarized, soldiers and their agents are always monitoring and threatening visitors or “taga-labas,” with an objective to isolate the farmworkers and easily terrorize them. We should assert our rights to freely visit Hacienda Luisita. It is not a private property of the Cojuangco-Aquino, it belongs to the farmworkers.

We could also support their mass actions by funding their transportation costs, shelter and food requirements, and other necessities to further drum up their moral and legitimate demand. Ultimately, we could join them on their protests.

It is also helpful if we could issue statements and messages supporting their cause. We have to deepen and broaden the support to apply thrust the Aquino government to implement genuine land and fundamental reforms in the country. We could also organize our ranks as supporters or advocates of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers.

We should all act now to combat the immoral and unjust claim of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. The Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are our modern-day heroes facing an enormous adversary. The future of our next generation is at stake if we tolerate a society diseased with an atmosphere of oppression, exploitation and injustice. We should not forget the martyrdom of the victims of Hacienda Luisita Massacre and join the broad effor to demand justice.

The Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are ready to struggle and they are waiting for you. Thank you very much!

For genuine land reform,

Joseph Canlas




Luisita belongs to farmers

Hacienda ownership clear since 1957–Corona

Manila Times



IF not for an apparent bungling by the government more than 50 years ago, Hacienda Luisita’s more than 6,000 hectares should have been given to farmers of the sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino 3rd as early as 1967.

As a result, there was a huge price to pay for the injustice done to the farmers but previous administrations had not come across to right the wrong, according to Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Antonio Corona.

“History will be the unforgiving judge of this court. We cannot correct a historical anomaly and prevent the eruption of a social volcano by fancy legal arguments and impressively crafted devices for corporate control,” Corona said in his dissenting opinion on a petition filed by the company managing Hacienda Luisita.

The government aiding in selling to a private person hacienda lands that would have to be given to the sugar workers in 10 years, he added, made virtually impossible change of ownership of the agricultural plantation in Tarlac province, north of Manila.

Fifty-four years ago, Corona said, the national government, helped the predecessor of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) in acquiring today’s sugar estate with the condition that the acquisition should be made “with a view to distributing this hacienda to small farmers in line with the [government]’s social justice program.”
The distribution of land to the farmers, he noted, should have been made within 10 years from 1957.
“That was a sine qua non condition. It could have not been done away with for mere expediency . . . HLI is bound by that condition,” Corona said.

“Agrarian reform is an essential element of social justice under the 1987 Constitution. It mandates that farmers and farm workers have the right to own the lands they till, individually or collectively, through cooperatives or similar organizations,” the Chief Justice added.

Land redistribution was the heart of Corona’s 19-page dissenting opinion in the case of HLI, which had petitioned the Supreme Court to allow it to give the sugar farmers shares of stock instead of lands.
He voted that the petition be dismissed.

“Section 31 of (Republic Act) 6657 should be declared null and void for being unconstitutional. Consequently, the stock distribution plan of petitioner HLI should (also) be declared null and void for being unconstitutional,” Corona said.

He suggested that the High Tribunal “take judicial cognizance of the violent incidents that intermittently occur at Hacienda Luisita, solely because of the agrarian problem there. Indeed, Hacienda Luisita proves that, for landless farmers and farm workers, the land they till is their life.”
Compulsory coverage

Accordingly, Corona said, “PARC Resolution Nos. 2005-32-01 dated December 22, 2005 and 2006-34-01 dated May 3, 2006 should be affirmed in so far as they direct the implementation of compulsory coverage or mandated land acquisition scheme in Hacienda Luisita with the modification that, pro hac vice due to considerations of fairness and equity, qualified farm worker-beneficiaries may waive their right to actually own the lands they till and stay as stockholders of petitioner HLI.”
PARC is the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council.

Last week, the Chief Justice was outnumbered by 10 justices of the High Court who ruled as constitutional Section 31 of RA 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
The majority noted that the matter was not the lis mota (the cause of the suit) of the hacienda case.
The 10 justices, however, revoked the stock distribution plan (SDP), which gave way to the stock distribution option (SDO) agreement that was forged in 1989 between HLI and the farmers.
The agreement let the farmers to choose between receiving lands and shares of stocks from HLI.
Six of the 10 justices also voted to order the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to administer a referendum where 6,296 qualified farmers can opt to be landowners or shareholders.

But, Corona said, “Unless there is land distribution, there can be no agrarian reform. Any program that gives farmers or farm workers anything less than ownership of land fails to conform to the mandate of the Constitution. In other words, a program that gives qualified beneficiaries stock certificates instead of land is not agrarian reform.”


Section 31 of RA 6657 allows corporations owning agricultural lands to give beneficiaries the right to own stocks in the corporation instead of receiving actual lands.
RA 6657 itself had granted Hacienda Luisita Inc., via the 1989 agreement, to give the sugar farmers shares of stock instead of lands.


Marginalized sector

Corona explained the history of agrarian reform in the Philippines.

“Agrarian reform has been envisioned to be liberating for a major but marginalized sector of Philippine society, the landless farmers and farm workers. History, too, has been said to be liberating. A quick review of the long and tortuous story of the toiling masses to till the land as freemen and not as slaves chained in bondage to a feudalistic system of land ownership should enlighten us better on the significance of the court’s decision in this case,” he said.

Feudalistic system is broadly defined as a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of lands in exchange for service or labor.

According to Corona, “more than two and a half centuries after compulsory land redistribution was first attempted in the Philippines, there remained so much unfinished business. It is this which the social justice provisions of the 1987 Constitution intended to finish.”

He argued that it requires that the law implementing the agrarian reform program envisioned by the Constitution should employ a land redistribution mechanism.

Corona said that “there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Constitution has ordained land redistribution as the mechanism of agrarian reform. First, it recognizes the right of farmers and regular farm workers who are landless to own directly or collectively the lands they till.”

“Second, it affirms the primacy of this right, which is enshrined as the centerpiece of agrarian reform, thereby guaranteeing its enforcement. Third, in the same breath, it directs that, to such end, the State shall undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands, subject only to retention limits and just compensation,“ he added in his dissenting opinion.







Fr. Greg Obejas blessing the farmers