“Breakthrough Deal A Baloney,” Said Luisita Worker Groups

The Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the mother federation of Hacienda Luisita based groups United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Thursday declared baloney, fraudulent and bogus the settlement allgedly reached between the striking farm workers and the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc.

UMA national coordinator Edna Velarde and KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in a joint press statement said President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his family controlling the 4,653 hectare sugar estate were dreaming and totally engaged in mass production of lies about the compromise agreement and could have made the negotiations among themselves.

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Both leaders said the farce agreement on Luisita can be questioned before the high court, adding that they will immediately consult their lawyers on appropriate legal actions should be undertaken to stop this land and justice robbery in broad daylight. “Definitely we will confront this betrayal in the parliament of streets, in the venue provided by the Supreme Court and in the court of public opinion,” Velarde and Ramos added.

“This breakthrough settlement is the grandmother of all lies and deceptions. It is by itself a major act of plunder, corruption and betrayal of collective peasant land rights and public interest rolled into one. President Aquino and the feudal aristocracy of Luisita merely talked to their own shadows and entertained a certain Al Capone when they orchestrated this biggest Mafia crime of the century,” Velarde and Ramos asserted.

“There was no deal between the Luisita farm workers and the Cojuangco-Aquino slave holding corporation. There was no judicial compromise agreement or whatever political animal the Cojuangcos wish it to call or describe. The President and his family are all dreaming, and in this case, we will not allow the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to dream free even if it is free. All their maneuvers should be exposed and opposed to the Filipino public,” the UMA and KMP leaders added.

The president’s cousin, Fernando Cojuangco, 47, HLI chief operating officer announced yesterday that a negotiated deal seeking an end to the ongoing land dispute in the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation had been reached between the management and the striking farm workers.

He said the agreement will be signed today and then forwarded to the Supreme Court. Under the proposed settlement, the 10,502 farmer-beneficiaries recognized by HLI management would be allowed to choose whether to retain their shares under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) or surrender in exchange of land.

A highly placed source said the farmers are entitled to get at least 1,400 hectares out of the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita representing one third or 33 percent of their shares in the HLI. The same source said the farm workers will also get P 140 million as part of the agreement which would be released in tranches.

But the Hacienda Luisita farm worker groups said the issue of the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita which they said should be immediately distributed for free to farmer-beneficiaries is non-negotiable.

In their letter of appeal to Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona dated August 3, the Luisita farmer-beneficiaries asked the high tribunal to proceed with the scheduled oral arguments on August 18 regarding the long pending petition that would lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) and pave the way for the urgent, unconditional and free distribution of the 6,435 hectare sugar estate to 10,000 farmer beneficiaries.

“Dear Chief Justice, the oral arguments on Hacienda Luisita case is long overdue and we cannot afford to have another postponement or delay. The oral arguments should proceed as scheduled and this collective sentiment of the Hacienda Luisita farm workers is understandable from any legal, moral and political standpoint having been victimized by one of the largest feudal fiefdoms in the country- the Cojuangco-Aquino family,” the Luisita farm worker groups said in their letter to Corona.

“And it is politically correct, morally upright and legally precise on the part of the struggling farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to keep its vigilance burning and frustrate any attempt of the Cojuangco-Aquino camp to score an immoral victory against the legitimate rights of the farm workers,” their letter of appeal added.

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to secure TRO as opposed to the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to have the 6,453 hectare sugar estate distributed to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries had favored or benefited the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino. But there is still a lot of opportunity and ample time to realize that there is still justice in this part of the earth,” their letter stressed. #

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