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GIVE BACK HACIENDA LUISITA TO THE FILIPINO FARMERS!

by Pesante_USA Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2009 at 8:39 AM
mag 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles< CA 90026

The Philippine Peasant Support Network(PESANTE)-USA stands solidly with peasant organizations in the Philippines in their call: GIVE BACK THE HACIENDA LUISITA to the farmers! Pesante supports the call of former KMP chair PAeng Mariano . Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said that Senator Noynoy Aquino’s statement that they will give up Hacienda Luisita is just ruse to further evade his duty to give the land to the farmers. He said the Aquino-Cojuangco family could just convert the estate into other uses (such as the Luisita Mall and the Luisita Industrial Park) to raise money and pay its debts, which do not comply with their obligations under the agrarian reform program. “For generations, the Cojuangcos have benefited greatly from the Hacienda and labor of the farmers. It’s time they give it away, selling it or converting it will only aggravate the problems,” said Mariano.

PESANTE NEWS

September 14, 2009



Give Luisita to farmers, Peasant Advocates, Groups Urged

Los Angeles - The Philippine Peasant Support Network(PESANTE)-USA stands solidly with peasant organizations in the Philippines in their call: GIVE BACK THE HACIENDA LUISITA to the farmers!

Pesante supports the call of former KMP chair PAeng Mariano . Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said that Senator Noynoy Aquino’s statement that they will give up Hacienda Luisita is just ruse to further evade his duty to give the land to the farmers.

He said the Aquino-Cojuangco family could just convert the estate into other uses (such as the Luisita Mall and the Luisita Industrial Park) to raise money and pay its debts, which do not comply with their obligations under the agrarian reform program.

“For generations, the Cojuangcos have benefited greatly from the Hacienda and labor of the farmers. It’s time they give it away, selling it or converting it will only aggravate the problems,” said Mariano.

LAND TO THE PEASANTS!

Simply giving up Hacienda Luisita is not enough, according to agrarian reform advocates.

They said Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, standard-bearer of the Liberal Party, should be clear on what his family planned to do with the more than 6,000-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac province.

“Will you give the land to the farmers or sell it to foreign investors? His statement was very general. The land that was supposed to be for the farmers for the last 20 years should be given to them now,” Willy Marbella, deputy secretary of the militant Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said Sunday.

Pesante Supports KMP

“It is very sad that Senator Aquino, who intends to run for president said it in that way. This simply means that he sees the Luisita case in a business point of view and not because he recognized that the agri-workers who developed it for half a century and more, legitimately owned it,” Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general, said in a separate statement.

Ramos cited reports that portions of Luisita were being converted into commercial, industrial and residential uses as well as the government’s flagship project, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

Simply giving up the sugar estate “without resolving the problems would be abandoning the farmers’ call for justice,” said Roger Amurao, vice chair of the Farmworkers Agrarian Reform Movement in Hacienda Luisita (FARM-Luisita).

Amurao said the labor dispute at the sugar estate stemmed from the poverty of the farmers and the Cojuangco family’s failure to make good on a promise to distribute the estate.

“Up to now, people are impoverished especially with the issue still pending in the Supreme Court. FARM has asked for help from DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) for support services just so the farmers can plant even a little, but they said they could not do anything because the issue was now in the courts,” Amurai said in a statement in Filipino.

Labor Dispute

Amid a labor dispute that resulted in the deaths of several workers on strike, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC), the highest policymaking body on agrarian reform, voted in 2005 to revoke Hacienda Luisita’s stock distribution option (SDO), which gave farmers stocks instead of ownership of a piece of land.

The SDO scheme was adopted during the administration of the late President Corazaon Aquino, mother of the LP standard-bearer, when she signed an agrarian reform law.

The appeal of the Luisita management on the PARC decision is pending in the Supreme Court.

If Hacienda Luisita is mired in debt, to whom does the management owe the huge amount? Amurao asked. “And then he [Aquino] will leave? To whom will he leave it? To the one from whom they owe money?”

FARM has some 1,250 members in Barangays Mabilog, Parang and Pardo in Concepcion, Tarlac, according to FARM chair Renato Lalic. The estate extends from the towns of Concepcion and La Paz to Tarlac City.

Other farmers groups—the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala)—called on Aquino to withdraw his family’s petition for a temporary restraining order before the Supreme Court urging it to stop the PARC from distributing the land to farm workers and other qualified beneficiaries.

ULWU and Ambala also called on Aquino to scrap a memorandum from the Luisita management ordering the farmers to stop all their planting activities in the estate by Oct. 30.

“The first thing Senator Noynoy should do is to recognize the cultivation campaign of Hacienda Luisita workers is an assertion of farm workers’ rights and therefore lawful and politically and morally correct,” said ULWU acting chair Lito Bais in a statement.

The Luisita farmers “bungkalan” (cultivation) campaign has covered some 2,000 hectares of the 6,453-hectare sugar estate. The campaign has benefited 838 families, about 1,670 individuals, spread in the Barangays of Malapacsiao, Asturias, Bantog, Cut-Cut, Balite, Mutrico, Pando, Texas, Pasajes, and Parang, according to Bais.

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