November 16, 2010
Bayan join’s the struggling Filipino people in commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Six years after the November 16 massacre, not one police, mlitary or civilian official has been made accountable or has been convicted. The Office of the Ombudsman has sat on the case and no significant results have been made in achieving justice for the seven who died at the picket lines.
The Luisita massacre is a continuing reminder of the failures of the Philippine justice system and the climate of impunity that has prevailed from the Arroyo regime up to the Aquino administration.
The anniversary of the massacre once again highlights not just the human rights violations but also the fundamental problem of land monopoly which was the root cause of the agrarian unrest in the hacienda.
Six years after the massacre, the land issue remains unresolved. The question of whether to distribute land or mere shares of stock remains pending with the Supreme Court. The Luisita management has maneuvered to dupe the farmers into signing a sham compromise agreement in order to retain control over the 4,000 hectare estate. The Aquino government has not moved to stop this maneuver. The administration’s silence on the compromise deal objectively aids the maneuvers of management.
Aquino’s attitude on Luisita seems to reflect his general attitude towards land reform. There has been no clear policy pronouncement on land reform in any of the major speeches done by the president form the time he assumed power. Instead, the Aquino government has focused its energies on the much-criticized Conditional Cash Transfer program which it mistakenly believes is a ‘better’ anti-poverty measure than land reform.
Land reform is a question of social justice. It is at the heart of the conflict in Luisita. That thousands of hecatres of land can be controled by just one family is a throwback to feudal times. It is situation that should be rejected and immediately rectified. The SC is in a position to correct this grave injustice to the farmers, if only it ceases with insisting on a mediation process and resolve the case on its merits.
The farmers of Luisita demand land and justice. They deserve nothing less.
Renato Reyes, Jr.
Posted by Bulatlat.com