Hacienda Luisita Farmers, Students March to Noynoy’s Home to Demand Justice


MANILA – Less than a month before the elections, more than 70 Hacienda Luisita farmers and students from the University of the Philippines (UP) stormed presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s house on April 14, demanding justice for the “martyrs” of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre.

Carrying a makeshift black coffin and “bloodstained” yellow ribbons, the protesters marched along Times Street, where houses bear yellow banderitas and cars with yellow ribbon stickers. Later they proceeded to the Department of Agrarian Reform to hold a program.

“The decades of exploitation and continued reign of the Cojuango-Aquino family inside the hacienda are already too long, and will continue for another six years if Noynoy is proclaimed president,” read the April 14 joint statement of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) and the Kabataan Partylist-UP Diliman, which organized the protest action with Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (Kasama sa UP), Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita and MARTYR, an organization of farmers and victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre.

Hacienda Luisita, a 6,419-hectare property of the Cojuangco family, is composed of 10 barangays and the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), the second largest sugar mill in the country. On Nov. 16, 2004, seven striking farm workers were killed and more than a hundred wounded in a violent dispersal in front of the hacienda gate.

Hacienda Luisita was supposedly subjected to land reform in 1989 under Cojuangco heir President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. However, under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) provided by Aquino’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the farm workers were given stocks instead of actual land parcels. 

(Photo by Pauline Gidget R. Estella / bulatlat.com)

Through CARP, the Cojuangcos declared only 4,915 hectares of the hacienda as subject to land reform and placed it under the corporate name Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI).

“Six years after the massacre, the Cojuangco-Aquino family has still maintained their hold on the thousands of hectares of land that comprise HLI, despite a 1985 order from the Manila Regional Trial Court to distribute the land to the farmers,” and through Aquino’s CARP, a law that further exploited farmers, said ULWU in the statement.

After 16 years of SDO, farm worker beneficiaries have become more impoverished, said UP Student Regent Charisse Bañez during the protest action, adding that Mikee Cojuangco’s horses cost more than a month’s worth of food for the Hacienda Luisita farmers.

The farmers’ take-home pay plunged to as low as P9.50 ($0.21) a week, and at the same time, they were “victimized” by unfair labor practices, said ULWU acting president Lito Bais.

“Where is the service-oriented leadership being promised by Noynoy?  Until the problems of the farmers of Hacienda Luisita are unresolved, we would continue fighting for justice and land reform,” said Bais in Tagalog.   

(Photo by Pauline Gidget R. Estella / bulatlat.com)

Bais said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has exploited the “overextended” temporary restraining order used by the Supreme Court, enjoining the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman from distributing Hacienda Luisita lands to farm worker beneficiaries.

Aquino III, who has continually skirted the issue for months now, cannot “wash his hands clean in the labor and land dispute at the Hacienda Luisita on the basis of his being a minor shareholder,” said Kasama sa UP in an April 14 statement, adding that “such excuse and failure to rein in his family are a display of inutility and lack of leadership.”

Aquino III’s “lack of sincerity” is also evident when he declared last year that the hacienda will be distributed to farm workers by 2014, which is “inconsistent” with the statement of his cousin and HLI chief operating officer Ferdinand Cojuangco to the New York Times, said Rainer Sindayen, chairperson-elect of UP Diliman Student Council. In the February 23 interview with the Times, Cojuangco said the family has no intention of giving up the land or the sugar business.

 “How can the youth and the people trust Noynoy Aquino to push for genuine agrarian reform when his family, in connivance with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, orchestrated the massacre in 2004, and is continually in support of anti-farmer and anti-people land reform policies such as the [CARP]?” Sindayen said. (Bulatlat.com)

Share This Post

7 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. · Edit

    Dear All:

    Please visit:

    to sign the Petition to the Supreme Court of the Philippines to Lift TRO Re: Hacienda Luisita

    We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitang Luzon (AMGL) in appealing to the Honorable Chief Justice Reynato Puno and to the other members of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued in June 2006 upon the petition of the Cojuangco family that prevented the government from distributing the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

    We declare that in December 2005, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) issued an order revoking the stock distribution option (SDO) agreement between Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the farm workers. The same directive ordered that the property be parceled out among the workers.

    Therefore, we the undersigned, respectfully appeal to our justices’ sense of truth, justice, and accountability to allow the government to distribute the Luisita land to the farmworker-beneficiaries.

    Justice delayed is Justice denied


    Published by Maria Elizabeth Embry on Apr 24, 2010
    Category: Justice
    Region: GLOBAL
    Target: Supreme Court of the Philippines
    Background (Preamble):
    The Central Bank Monetary Board resolution from 1957 required distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s land to small farmers within 10 years. When 1967 came and went with no land distribution taking place, the farm workers began to organize themselves to uphold their cause.
    A case was filed on May 7, 1980 by the Marcos government against the Cojuangco company TADECO for the surrender of Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, so land could be distributed to the farmers at cost, in accordance with the terms of the government loans given in 1957-1958 to the late Jose Cojuangco, Sr., who died in 1976. (Republic of the Philippines vs. TADECO, Civil Case No. 131654, Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch XLIII)
    On January 16, 1986, (Cory) Aquino delivered her second major speech in Davao and said, “Land-to-the-tiller must become a reality, instead of an empty slogan.”
    In the same speech, Aquino also said, “You will probably ask me: Will I also apply it to my family’s Hacienda Luisita? My answer is yes.”
    The snap elections took place on February 7, 1986. Marcos was declared winner, but was ousted by the People Power revolution. Cory Aquino was sworn in as President on February 25, 1986.
    On January 22, 1987, eleven months into the Aquino administration, the Mendiola massacre happened. Thousands of frustrated farmers marched to Malacañang demanding fulfillment of the promises made regarding land reform during the Aquino campaign, and distribution of lands at no cost to beneficiaries. At least a dozen protesters were killed in the violent dispersal. More were seriously injured.
    The Stock Distribution Option (SDO) was a clause in the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that allowed landowners to give farmers shares of stock in a corporation instead of land. The landlords then arranged to own majority share in the corporations, to stay in control. This went against the spirit of land reform, which is to give “land to the tiller”.
    On May 18, 1988, the Court of Appeals dismissed the case filed in 1980 by the Philippine government—under Marcos—against the Cojuangco company TADECO to compel the handover of Hacienda Luisita. It was the Philippine government itself—under Aquino—that filed the motion to dismiss its own case against TADECO, saying the lands of Hacienda Luisita were going to be distributed anyway through the new agrarian reform law.
    A month after the case was dismissed, on June 10, 1988, Aquino signed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Soon after, Hacienda Luisita was put under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that Aquino included in the law. Through the SDO, landlords could comply with the land reform law without giving land to farmers.
    On May 9, 1989, Luisita’s farm workers were asked to choose between stocks or land in a referendum. The SDO won 92.9% of the vote. A second referendum and information campaign were held on October 14, 1989, and again the SDO won, this time by a 96.75% vote.
    Luisita’s SDO agreement spelled out a 30-year schedule for transferring stock to the farm workers:
    “At the end of each fiscal year, for a period of 30 years, the SECOND PARTY (HLI) shall arrange with the FIRST PARTY (TADECO) the acquisition and distribution to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers) on the basis of number of days worked and at no cost to them of one-thirtieth (1/30) of 118,391,976.85 shares of the capital stock of the SECOND PARTY (HLI) that are presently owned and held by the FIRST PARTY (TADECO), until such time as the entire block of 118,391,976.85 shares shall have been completely acquired and distributed to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers).”
    About 5 years after the SDO was implemented, management began to claim that HLI was losing money. The farm workers’ wages plateaued and their work days were cut.
    Meanwhile, a mall and industrial park were sprouting on the portion of the hacienda closest to McArthur Highway. Losing money but building a mall? the farmers brooded. Something was up.
    Conversion—the real plan
    On September 1, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tarlac passed a resolution reclassifying 3,290 out of Luisita’s 4,915 hectares from agricultural to commercial, industrial, and residential. The governor of Tarlac province at that time was Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. Out of the 3,290 reclassified hectares, 500 were approved for conversion by the DAR.
    As land was being converted, the area left for farming grew smaller and smaller. More work days were cut, and wages were practically frozen. Mechanization also reduced the need for manual labor.
    Mass retrenchment
    By 2003, the farm workers’ daily wage was down to P194.50 (P9.50 after deductions for salary loans and other items), and work days were down to 1 per week.
    They finally saw the futility of having four board seats against management’s seven (the SDO agreement allotted 4 board seats to the farm workers ahead of the 30-year waiting period for their stocks). They were always going to be outvoted. They also feared that their board representatives could easily be manipulated because they were not as well-versed as management in corporate matters.
    The SDO had to go, they concluded.
    The union leaders scrabbled together a petition to revoke the SDO and stop land conversion in Luisita. It was signed by 5,339 farm workers and filed at the Department of Agrarian Reform on December 4, 2003. In July 2004, the union tried to negotiate a wage increase to P225 per day. They also asked for an increase in work days to 2-3 days per week. Management said no, saying the company was losing money.
    Management then issued notices retrenching 327 farm workers effective October 1, 2004. A month later came the workers’ strike, then the massacre.
    Under pressure from public outrage over the November 2004 massacre, the Arroyo
    administration, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), formed Task Force Stock Distribution on November 25, 2004 to study the causes of the workers’ strike. The Task
    Force was later renamed Task Force Luisita. In March 2005, teams were sent by the DAR to Luisita’s 10 barangays to investigate the SDO.
    the DAR’s Task Force Luisita submitted the findings and recommendations of its
    investigation. This formed the basis for the government’s decision a few months later to revoke Luisita’s Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and order the distribution of the hacienda’s land to the farmers.On December 23, 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) formally ordered
    Luisita’s SDO revoked, and its lands put under compulsory acquisition.
    But the Cojuangco family would not give up the land without a fight. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was obtained from the Supreme Court by June 2006 preventing PARC from revoking the SDO and distributing Hacienda Luisita’s land. This TRO has been in force for more than three years now.
    Source: gmanews.tv/story/181877 published in four series
    By STEPHANIE DYCHIU 01/18/2010

    pls forward to family & friends, post @facebook, twitter, etc.

    Maria Elizabeth Embry
    Antioch Ca

    Pls. Sign the petition

  2. Why do we need to let someone screw things up more? for Fudge's sake, get a grip and vote a candidate that is for the poor, byt the poor, and not some drugged crazed autistic hippie. but i guess the common pinoy's mind is blowin in the wind…

  3. · Edit

    (tweaked by Maria Elizabeth Embry of Antioch California)

    Hacienda Luisita, 42 years Blowin’ in the Wind (1968-2010)

    How many more Hacienda Luisita farmers must die

    Before we can call ’em owners of their land?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many Laws they must passed

    Before you can call it an Agrarian Reform Law?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many more farmers the guards must slay

    Before you can say it is enough?

    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,

    The answer, indeed is blowin’ in the wind.

    How many times must Hacienda Luisita farmers fight

    Before they can see the end of their plight?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have

    Before he can hear the farmer cry?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many massacres will it take till Noynoy wakes up

    That too many Hacienda Luisita sakadas have died?

    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,

    The answer, indeed is blowin’ in the wind.

    How many years can the Hacienda Luisita farmer’s plea exists

    Before it’s heard by y’all?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many years can Hacienda Luisita farmers complain

    Before they’re allowed to be right?

    Yes, ‘n’ how many times can some people turn their heads,

    Pretending they just do not see?

    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,

    The answer, indeed is blowin’ in the wind.

Comments are closed.