Leave Luisita, pull-out goons and soldiers, farm workers tell Cojuangco-Aquinos

August 29, 2016

By UMA

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) slammed the family of former President Benigno Aquino III for using their paid hacks to pose as farm worker beneficiary (FWB) leaders and defend their immoral claim on a 500-hectare property still under dispute in Hacienda Luisita.

UMA noted that the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their business partners in the RCBC and Luisita Industrial Park (LIP) have escalated their long-running smear campaign against legitimate farm workers under the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), and peasant leaders including now Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano.

“Instead of spreading deception and lies in the media, the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their minions must let Luisita land reform areas be,” said Danilo Ramos, UMA Secretary General.

DAR Sec. Mariano recently denied the appeal of the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), a Cojuangco-Aquino firm, to retain ownership of 358.22 hectares of land it violently seized from farm workers who have embarked on land cultivation in the area since 2005.

Needless to say, farm workers under AMBALA led by its chairperson, Florida “Ka Pong” Sibayan, herself a victim of mauling, illegal arrests, and destruction of her family’s farm lot and property within the TADECO area, obviously rejoiced over the recent DAR decision. But the fake leaders of Hacienda Luisita FWBs, namely Noel Mallari and Edwin Cabilangan, long-exposed as Cojuangco-Aquino minions, suddenly harped about the farm workers’ supposed clamor for “industrial development” in the nearby LIP-RCBC property.

They nervously re-echoed the Cojuangco-Aquino position that if ever the DAR under Mariano would revoke the conversion order on the 500 hectares of land now controlled by Luisita Industrial Park Corporation (LIPCO), Luisita Land Corporation (LLC) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), FWBs would not receive the Supreme Court-mandated P1.33 billion share of the proceeds of sale from Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

In recent news reports, DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Pangulayan already stated that he saw no conflict between the possible revocation of the conversion order and the Supreme Court decision. In other words, farm workers must get both their share of the Php 1.33 billion, and their right to become beneficiaries in the 500-hectare property. AMBALA asserts that the HLI’s successors-in-interest failed to abide by the terms of the 1996 conversion order as the property remains fit for agricultural use, and must therefore be subject to land reform.

Ramos added that the Cojuangcos-Aquinos must now abide by the DAR’s decision on TADECO, and pull-out its private security guards from the area.

“Soldiers stationed within this land reform area, particularly a company under the 31st IBPA, 3rd Mechanized Battalion must also go back to their barracks and dismantle their company headquarters located in the area. We also call on the Department of Justice to take action on hundreds of criminal complaints filed by farm workers in 2014 regarding the destruction of crops, burning of huts, illegal arrests, mauling and other atrocities by the Cojuangco-Aquinos in relation to the TADECO case,” said Ramos.

Reference: Danilo Ramos, Secretary General, UMA, CP # 09994363493