The peasants and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) deservessocial justice and not deceitful schemes. They have to justlybenefit from the land they have been tilling for so long . Their human rights and fundamental rights have to be respected. Any offering or attempt to subdue their resistance against inhumane treatment is an affront against their rights.This must be at any time be opposed and condemned.
The Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR) is in solidarity withthe farmers of Hacienda Luisita in their struggle for land and justice and against the continues exploitation and oppression of the family of President Noynoy Aquino.We are firmed as church people to be on the side of our tilling brothers and sisters in their effort to defend their life and dignity.
President Noynoy Aquino’s family have gain too much from the sweat and blood of the Hacienda Luisita farmers. For more than four decades, they have controlled and made profit on the land that was developed by the hands of the toiling masses. They have lived in an opulent life at the expense of the condition of the farmers.
Hacienda Luisita farmers have opened our eyes with the real situation of our rural areas. They have shown that the land reform program under the previous administrations are only for the landlords’ interests. Their experience showed that schemes like the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) was not intended to uplif ttheir lives but rather pull them more to the hole of poverty.
From the time the Hacienda Luisita was acquired in 1957, deception and political influence have been used. It was aggravated when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Billin 1987 was enacted into law that legalized the retention of vast tract of land to the few powerful families. Using Stock DistributionOption (SDO) scheme, the Cojuangco-Aquino family was able to exempt their 6,453 has. of land from distribution. Eventually, they converted thousand hectares of arable land into an industrial and commercial estate by selling it to its own subsidiary corporation without consideration of its workers.
The failure of the HLI to raise the living condition of the workers and of the self serving policy pushes the farmers beneficiaries to hold astrike in 2004. But instead of heeding the farmers call, the Cojuanco-Aquino family-owned corporation ignored their pleas, violence ensued resulting to the death of seven lives. When the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Presidential AgrarianReform Council decided that SDO must be cancelled, the HLI secured an indefinite temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.
Disregarding its own petition, a compromise agreement was initiated by the Cojuanco-Aquino family in connivance with some hacienda workers to pre-empt or influence the scheduled oral argument of the case filed in the Supreme Court. The president’s family is exercising all efforts,again to retain the land in their favor. They even use the dirty tactic of divide and rule among the struggling farmers through bribery as well as using military might to impose their agenda.
The continuing refusal of President Noynoy to engage in the land dispute is tantamount to neglecting people’s issues and concern. His inaction and alibis give more signal at the advantage of the landlords. It reveals that the path that his government is approaching is far from the path of justice that the poor people are demanding.
In the situation like this, church people are expected to work for justice by standing on the side of the struggling poor. Our prophetic task calls us to struggle with the Hacienda Luisita farm workers for land and justice. We say no to compromise agreement! Junk the Stock Distribution Option! Land to the Tillers! (Bulatlat.com)
MR. NARDY SABINO
PCPR General Secretary