Ten Years of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre: INTENSIFY THE STRUGGLE!

November 15, 2014

Militant groups led by Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and BAYAN Central Luzon hold a protest in Angeles City, Pampanga the day before the 10th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

Militant groups led by Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and BAYAN Central Luzon hold a protest in Angeles City, Pampanga the day before the 10th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Image by Tudla Productions

Ten years after the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre, the conditions that incited the hacienda-wide strike on November 2004 remain, if not, worsened. The landlord Cojuangco-Aquinos has escalated the feudal exploitation, deception and fascism against the peasants and the people of the hacienda. More than ever, it is necessary for the peasants and people of the hacienda to once again harness and arduously advance the militant and life-and-death struggle for land and justice.

After the tragic massacre on the 16th of November 2004, in which seven farmers were killed, the peasants and the people of Hacienda Luisita continued the struggle. On June 2005, they launched the collective bungkalan (land cultivation campaign) and planted rice and vegetables.

On December 2005 the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) decided to cancel the stock distribution option (SDO) in the hacienda and ordered the distribution of lands to the farmers. However, the management of the Hacienda objected and pursued to undermine the decision in which they were able to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order from the Supreme Court in June 2006. At that time, the tillers have cultivated more than 2000 hectares. There have been families cultivating lands but the majority were engaged in collective farming. They harvested rice and vegetables which for consumption by their families and sold the surplus. The barangays (villages) of Bantug, Asturias and Cutcut became vast rice fields. Their families and communities were able to benefit from the victories of the farmers’ and farmworkers struggle in Hacienda Luisita.

Ten years since the just strike of peasants and farmworkers, ten years after the bloody massacre, all legal remedies, the dependence on the law, have been exhausted. In fact, the Supreme Court even decided in favor of farmers and farmworkers by nullifying the SDO in Hacienda Luisita. However, the April 2012 decision of the highest court of the land was ignored, and worse, subverted by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

The landlord President and the entire Cojuanco-Aquino clan utilized all state machineries and used various legal and political maneuvers to continuously deprive farmers and further strengthen landlord control over the lands. The Cojuangco-Aquinos and their cohorts executed “Oplan April Spring’ which intensified deception, bribery, and vilification of peasant leaders in vain attempt to divide and destroy the peasants and farmworkers’ unity and organization.

Likewise, the sham Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was used to frustrate the distribution of the vast tracks of land of Hacienda Luisita to the peasants and the farmworkers.
In connivance with DAR, the Cojuangcos released their own list of beneficiaries. They even reduced the size of the land for “distribution.”  From the original 6,453 hectares, the land covered by the sham CARP was reduced to 4,099 hectares. Hundreds of hectares of productive agricultural lands in the hacienda have been deviously put under land-use conversion by the Cojuangcos.

Under the guise of “land distribution” through CARP, the Cojuangco-Aquinos made a cash cow out of the bogus land reform program, and even used it as a means for corruption. While their monopoly and control over the hacienda remains intact, the Aquino government paid the Cojuangco-Aquinos more than P471.5 million for the 4,099 hectares of the hacienda. The money was sourced from the controversial and corruption-driven Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Aquino.

In collusion with DAR and through the bogus CARP, the Aquino government destroyed the farmers’ collective bungkalan. Enforced upon the hacienda is DAR’s scheme of “distribution” through lottery or tambiolo land reform. The DAR imposed upon the farmers the sugar block farm scheme to maintain sugarcane production and ensure that farmers remain as waged farm labor. Furthermore, the DAR allows and tolerates agents hired by the Cojuangcos for the aggressive expansion of the arriendo system in Hacienda Luisita. These maneuvers by DAR are devious and divisive, with a sole purpose of maintaining the Cojuangcos control and further dominance over the land.

The DAR shamelessly disqualified 125 legitimate peasants and farmworker beneficiaries who oppose and resist the brazen maneuvers of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and Aquino’s government.

On top of these maneuvers, militarization, violence and abuse of rights of the farmworkers further intensified in Hacienda Luisita.  The Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is positioned at the very gates of the Hacienda and stationed within are different units of the military, police and paramilitary including the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the AFP, the Tarlac Provincial Police, private security guards, and the Cojuangcos’ “Yellow Army” who are wreaking havoc and perpetuating fear and violence against the people of the hacienda.

The exhaustion of all legal remedies further validates the fact that it is not in the legal courts and agencies controlled by landlords that justice will be achieved. The Cojuangcos will never voluntarily surrender Hacienda Luisita. In fact, there are more than 80 fabricated criminal cases filed by the Cojuangco-Aquinos against peasants, farmworkers, and their supporters. The real arena of struggle is not in the legal courts.  The real arena of struggle lies inside Hacienda Luisita and between the State of big landlords and the struggling people.  
There is a need for the farmers and the farmworkers to prepare for a long and cruel battle. The farmers and the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita must link arms with the broad movement to oust Aquino, the chief political representative of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the entire landlord and comprador bourgeoisie class. Only this would reinvigorate and set ablaze the militant tradition of struggle of the people of Hacienda Luisita.

It is politically necessary to build the solid organization and unwavering strength of the peasants and the farmworkers of the Hacienda to persistently confront the landlord Cojuangco-Aquino. Above all, it is a political necessity to strengthen the broad alliance of peasants, farmworkers, and the people of the hacienda towards another rightful and just people’s strike in Hacienda Luisita, to  end the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ control over the lands and the achieve genuine land reform.