“We, the new generation of so-called hooligans, cannot condone hypocrisy and lies.” – League of Filipino Students
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Peasants from Hacienda Luisita and youth activists praised the Filipino-Americans who stood up and questioned President Benigno S. Aquino III while he was delivering his keynote speech at the World Leaders Forum held in Columbia University on Sept. 23.
The activist youth group League of Filipino Students (LFS) said they “salute the Filipino-American youth who bravely denounced the criminal negligence of the Aquino regime on the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and called for his removal from office.”
In a separate statement, Florida Sibayan, chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) said: “You’ll always have a home in Hacienda Luisita, and in the hearts of the Filipino people.”
The statements were referring to Joelle Lingat, spokesman of Anakbayan USA and Jenab-i Pareja of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.
The LFS said the “real, deplorable acts of violence are enacted by the corrupt, puppet and fascist US-Aquino regime – the government who left typhoon victims to starvation and death, who stole funds from the people, who sells the country’s sovereignty to the US, who imposes human rights violations through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who threatens for a term extension and rules with his own brand of dictatorship.”
According to a news report, Aquino was delivering his speech when Pareja stood up and interrupted him with a question.
This was followed by Lingat who raised a question about the pork barrel, government rehabilitation of typhoon victims and continuing impunity. She then unfolded a banner with a call to “End impunity, stop the killings.”
In a statement sent by Bayan-USA to Bulatlat.com, Lingat told Aquino; “I have been to Hacienda Luisita. I have seen firsthand the continuing plight of the farm workers, the families of the laborers of those who were massacred for wanting to earn more than P9 ($.20) a day. It’s unbelievable to me that this can happen on the piece of property owned by the President’s family.”
She was escorted out by the New York City police.
In a statement, Lingat said Aquino closed his eyes and shook his head reacting to the issue of Hacienda Luisita. “One audience member even told me I should be ashamed of myself. But it is Aquino who should be ashamed for dodging accountability over the massive loss of lives in his own family’s estate.”
The Fil-Am protesters also unfurled a banner reading “Oust Aquino, Pork Barrel King” by the stage in front of the audience. Thirty five other activists also staged a protest outside the Columbia University against Aquino. Fil-Ams from Anakbayan New Jersey, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and Gabriela New York slammed Aquino on issues confronting his administration – from the pork barrel scam, the government’s ineptness in responding to the needs of survivors of typhoon Haiyan and human rights abuses in the Philippines.
The LFS said Lingat “only gave truthful and indispensable testimonies to the dreadful situation of the Filipino people under the Aquino government.” The group said Lingat and other Fil-Ams have recently visited the country and witnessed the problems confronted by majority of Filipinos. They also carried out fund-raising activities for typhoon victims.
“We, the new generation of so-called hooligans, cannot condone hypocrisy and lies,” said the LFS, in reference to the term used by some University of the Philippines professors in condemning students who protested against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Sept. 17.
“It is only just to dismantle Aquino’s lies amid policies such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the K+12 program, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and the continuing militarization in the countryside under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. These policies torment the Filipino people and gratify Aquino’s fellow corrupt politicians, the owners of big private corporations, and the government of the United States.”
Ambala’s Sibayan, meanwhile pointed out the human rights violations against Luisita farmers.
“Land reform implementation in Hacienda Luisita is a sham. Instead of (land) distribution, farmers’ huts are burned, food crops ready for harvesting are destroyed, and concrete walls with elevated sentry posts are at every corner of vast agricultural lands,” she said.
She noted that no one had been made accountable 10 years after the November 16 Hacienda Luisita Massacre, where seven farmworkers were shot dead and scores were wounded.
The LFS asserted that the Filipino youth should work together with the international community to “defeat the social problems felt across the world.”
“The Aquino government and its real boss, the global enemy United States should be made accountable for the self-serving programs and injustices they have enforced on the people. So long as justice is denied, peace will never be achieved. The militant struggle of the youth will be ever more intensified.”