MANILA – Men hired by known aides of Cojuangco-Aquino clan destroyed over 20 hectares of crops in barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.
According to the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), Buena Timbol and Arsing Valentino, known administrators of Cojuangco-Aquino firms Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco), ordered the flattening of several collective farms of the Ambala yesterday. The farm huts of farmer Charlito Catalan were also destroyed.
The destruction of crops, mostly monggo, were reportedly assisted by barangay captains Edison Diaz of Texas and Rael Gatus of Mapalacsiao and about 20 personnel from the Tarlac police and army soldiers in civilian clothes.
Danilo Ramos, secretary general of agricultural workers’ federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), condemned the incidents.
Ambala said both Timbol and Valentino are also known “aryendadors” or brokers of the illicit leaseback system.
Since the April 25, 2012 Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita, brokers linked to the President’s family reportedly enticed farmworker-beneficiaries to lease their land for P7,000 per year. The vast sugar estate was controlled by the clan of President Benigno Aquino III for more than five decades.
As of this writing, Ambala leaders are filing formal complaints against the identified perpetrators at the DAR provincial office and other authorities in Tarlac City.
Ramos said it’s not the first time that Cojuangco-Aquino’s men destroyed farm lots and huts.
On June 25, 2014, personnel from the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) led by lawyer Jose Eduardo Narciso facilitated the destruction of crops and fruit trees in the same area in Hacienda Luisita.
The Department of Agrarian Reform is also implicated in the filing of cases against the farmers for violation of Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law – for cultivating the land promised by agrarian reform.
Since 2014, farmers filed criminal charges with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the perpetrators and other members of the President’s family. Up to now, no action has been taken by authorities.
UMA challenged all presidential candidates, especially Aquino’s anointed, Mar Roxas, to speak out against these atrocities.
Ramos added that attacks like this happen because Aquino implemented “fake land distribution” in Hacienda Luisita. “The public must be made aware that it has been four years since the historic Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita. This kind of violence against our farmers is the daang matuwid that hacienderos like Mar Roxas wish to continue,” Ramos said.