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
“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
“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
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
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
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
The present moment is crucial for the struggle of Hacienda Luisita
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
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
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
The Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are ready to struggle and they are
waiting for you. Thank you very much!
For genuine land reform,
Luisita belongs to farmers
Hacienda ownership clear since 1957–Corona
BY JOMAR CANLAS REPORTER
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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.