Text and photos by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Carrying lit torches, thousands of peasants and agricultural workers from all over country converge in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City on Wednesday, marking the third day of “Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka Laban sa Hacienderong Rehimen ni Aquino” (Long March of Farmers Against the Hacienda Regime of Aquino).
The farmers burn three symbolic posters — feudalism, facism and imperialism — before finally burning a poster bearing Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
Earlier, Lakbayanis from the North marched from Our Lady of Grace Academy in Caloocan City to the Supreme Court in Padre Faura St., Manila. Peasants from Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453-hectare estate co-owned by Pres. Aquino, submitted a letter addressed to Chief Justice Renato Corona, appealing for the speedy decision on the decade-long land dispute.
At noon time, they marched towards the Office of the Ombudsman, demanding the resignation of Ombudsman Ma. Merciditas Guttierez. Peasants from Northern Luzon said that, under Guttierez’s watch, cases filed by the kins of the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre never prospered, aside from acquitting the Cojuangco families, former president Gloria Arroyo, then Labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and other high ranking officials of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The South leg of the Lakbayan, on the other hand, marched from Baclaran in Pasay City, to the business district of Makati City and eventually to the office of the Department of National Defense. Peasants said that state forces, such as PNP and AFP, are at the forefront of human rights violations in the country under the bloodiest counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya.
The Lakbayanis are all set for the protest march to Don Chico Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) in Manila today, to denounce the Aquino administration’s negligence over the agrarian disputes in the country. (Bulatlat.com)