“The public must be made aware that the worst atrocities are being committed by no less than the Presidential family against hapless farmers despite – or as cruel retribution for – the Supreme Court ruling for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.” – Jobert Pahilga, counsel for the Luisita farmers and executive director of the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra)
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Fifty-seven farmers from Hacienda Luisita filed new criminal charges at the Department of Justice against officials of the Cojuangco-owned company Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco), their private security guards, police officers, and several government officials, today Oct. 10.
The farmer-complainants, who belong to the Alyansa ng Magubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), said that since December 2013 to August this year, Tadeco has gone to great lengths to hold on to the land and evict the tillers from their farm lots. These efforts included incidents of Tadeco security guards assaulting peasant leaders, bulldozing and destruction of ready-for-harvest crops and fruit trees, demolition and burning of farm huts, threats and harassment.
The criminal charges filed by the farmers include attempted murder, arson, physical injuries, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, theft, robbery, child abuse and malicious mischief.
At least 53 individuals were named as respondents, including the Tadeco board members President Aquino’s sister Ma. Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, presidential uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr, Fernando Cojuangco, Ma. Therese McMurray, Regina Bautista, Eufrocinio dela Merced Jr, Victoria Catherine Cohico, Villamor Lagunero, Jacqueline Cojuangco-Guingona, former Land Tranportation chief Virginia Torres, guards of the Great Star security agency including Mauro dela Cruz and Wilmin Cariaga.
Also named respondents were Tarlac Provincial Police chief Alex Sintin, Tarlac City Police chief Felix Bervo Jr and several policemen, Francis Figueroa of the FF Cruz company, Tarlac provincial agrarian reform officer Jose Eduardo Narciso, and two village chairmen, namely, Rael Gatus of Mapalacsiao and Edison Diaz of Lourdes.
“The public must be made aware that the worst atrocities are being committed by no less than the Presidential family against hapless farmers despite – or as cruel retribution for – the Supreme Court ruling for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita,” said Ambala’s legal counsel and executive director of the Sentro para sa Tunay Jobert Pahilga.
Pahilga said it was the third batch of complaints that they had filed this year, in the farmers’ effort to defend themselves and assert the distribution of the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita.
In January this year, Ambala farmers have first filed criminal charges against the Tadeco officials for the attacks against them in December 2013. In April, they filed contempt charges at the Supreme Court, against the Department of Agrarian Reform for failing to implement the high court’s order to distribute Hacienda Luisita to the farmers.
Among the cases filed pertained to the February 8 burning of huts and crops in Balete village, and the assault on Ambala leaders by hammer-wielding Great Star security guards in Cutcut village.
Pahilga reported that as DOJ’s response, prosecutor Richard Padullon said they had formed a special committee to investigate the attacks against the farmers, and that a hearing will soon be conducted.