main   ANGUMAmast   multimedia   arch

UMA 2016 card2

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA Pilipinas) is the national progressive center of unions, federations, associations and organizations of agricultural workers in the Philippines.

UMA works closely with other progressive people’s organizations in the Philippines such as the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement), and other organizations affiliated with the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance).

UMA is a member of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI) and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers indeed restless

IMG_3327

DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano (left) shakes hands with Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, UMA Secretary General, in a dialogue between the DAR and Hacienda Luisita farmworkers last month.

 

This is our response to Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Ang’s article – “Is DAR Secretary Mariano undermining Duterte?”  which appeared on the front page of The Manila Times on August 21, 2016.

Hacienda Luisita farmworkers indeed restless

Allow us to humbly emphasize to Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Ang that he got it horribly wrong when he wrote that Hacienda Luisita farmworker beneficiaries (FWBs) are getting restless – only because they would want to go ahead with so-called “industrial development” of a 500-hectare disputed area within the controversial sugar estate.

Dr. Ang is indeed correct in describing Hacienda Luisita farmworkers as “restless.” But this restlessness – more of dread and disgust – is directed and due mainly to the systemic violence, deception and landgrabbing inflicted upon them by one Cojuangco-Aquino cacique president after another.

In so many words, the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano was unfairly painted by Dr. Ang as a mere troublemaker who is deliberately undermining President Duterte’s vision, just to supposedly further the Left’s agenda. Duterte even describes himself as a “Leftist” – why then should there be reason for alarm? For Luisita farmworkers, Ka Paeng who has been marching among their ranks for decades, embodies their aspirations for genuine land reform and social justice. The Ka Paeng of the peasant movement, even now that he is at the DAR’s helm, never fails to stress the weight of the people’s movement and collective struggle which Luisita farmworkers have been waging for so long despite all odds.

Let us stop spreading worn out, malicious intrigues against Leftists in the Duterte administration. Let us instead focus on the real monsters.

Under the rule of the haciendero heir BS Aquino and his minions within his erstwhile yellow enclaves at the DAR, the Tarlac courts, government units, and police and military establishment – the 2012 landmark Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita has atrociously come to this:

Aquino implemented “tambiolo land reform” or land reform by draw lots that resulted in massive dislocation, confusion, and conflict among beneficiaries and residents. This scheme only enabled the reconcentration of land back to the Cojuangco-Aquinos through their dummy financiers called “aryendadors” who promoted the illicit lease and sale of farmlots. In short, the so-called “land distribution” accomplished by Aquino was nothing but a complete sham.

The yellow DAR deliberately excluded more than a thousand hectares of land for distribution. These areas are still under the effective control of different corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquinos such as the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), Luisita Realty Corporation, Luista Land, Central Azucarera de Tarlac and other firms. This is contrary to the DAR’s own land reform mandate and the Supreme Court order for the DAR to subject all other agricultural lands in Luisita for distribution.

Under the yellow DAR, several trumped-up criminal cases were filed against leaders and members of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA*) to intimidate and harass the organized ranks of farmworkers and their supporters. Justice remains elusive to victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the spate of extrajudicial killings in Luisita since 2004, even as fresh human rights violations are being committed such as bulldozing of crops, burning of homes, mauling and illegal arrests.

Militarization persists inside Hacienda Luisita. The company headquarters of the 31st IB 3rd Mechanized Battalion is located right in the middle of the TADECO disputed area in Barangay Balete. Paramilitary CAFGU detachments are found in almost all barangays of Hacienda Luisita.

To seek land distribution of 500 hectares of idle, but prime agricultural land is but just, especially now that whole farming communities were displaced by Aquino’s tambiolo land reform. AMBALA in fact seeks to nullify the whole sham land reform process instituted by BS Aquino and correct all the injustices against farmworkers.

AMBALA sought to revoke the conversion order issued by DAR covering 500 hectares of land under the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) in January 2012, before the SC released its final and executory decision. The area is now controlled by RCBC, the Luisita Industrial Park, Co, and Luisita Land.

Up to now, the Cojuangcos have not paid the FWBs its debt of P1.33 billion or the farmworkers’ share from the sale of HLI assets, including the 500-hectare area under dispute. The previous DAR maneuvered to ensure that the Cojuangco-Aquinos had a say in the auditing process, effectively causing its delay. Other than this, there is a need to investigate the anomalous construction of a solar power plant in the disputed area. The plant is a public-private partnership project approved by BS Aquino with PetroGreen, a sister company of RCBC. Such project was never the purpose of land conversion when HLI’s request was granted by DAR way back in 1996.

The previous DAR’s own deliberate sluggishness made the petition for revocation “dormant.” The petition was never acted upon even as violence, outright bribery and evil maneuvers were being unleashed by RCBC and the Cojuangcos against farmworkers through “Oplan April Spring.” Disinformation and intrigue – branding the farmworkers as mere “anti-development troublemakers” and projecting the landlords and landgrabbers as virtuous, benevolent saviors – characterize this dirty ploy. The evil “April Spring” attack against farmworkers only steeled AMBALA’s organized ranks to carry on with the struggle.

To describe Hacienda Luisita farmworkers – or principled peasant leaders such as Ka Paeng – as anti-development or anti-industrialization is to expose our ignorance, the prejudice and contempt many of us have against the peasantry’s just struggle for genuine land reform.  Progress and development must spring from genuine land reform and national industrialization – not from violent evictions, landgrabbing, exploitation and oppression long practiced by oligarchs such as the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

DANILO RAMOS
Secretary General
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

 

*AMBALA is UMA’s local affiliate in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.

#TiempoMuerto: Sa Hacienda Ilimnan, Murcia, Negros Occidental

Short video on the plight of farmworkers during tiempo muerto (dead season), the season between planting and harvesting of sugarcane. Produced by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). Tiempo Muerto is also a media monitoring project launched by UMA with support from the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).

Thanks to the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – Negros and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP).

Camera: Amel Sabangan, Nadja de Vera
Editing: Amel Sabangan
Translation: Mike Concepcion

#TiempoMuerto: Genuine land reform is key to end yearly “dead season”

lani

Nanay Lani holds up her pay slip. Photo by Nadja de Vera (Concerned Artists of the Philippines

BACOLOD CITY – Nanay Lani holds up her pay slip, a small piece of paper more akin to a list of dues that the kind proprietor of your neighborhood sari-sari store hands you to emphasize that you cannot get any more “credit” (utang or debt). The pay slip is handed to Nanay Lani by the hacienda’s enkargado (supervisor) every 15 days, usually to prove that she will only take home less than a hundred pesos in cash for her toil as farmworker in the sugarcane fields.

“Here,” Nanay Lani shows the piece of paper, “I took home only Php 43.42 for 15 days work.” That she earned during the boom of harvest and milling season. She takes home a measly amount because her debts from the hacienda’s “cooperative store” for rice and other supplies were already deducted.

“Now it’s tiempo muerto (dead season) and work is scarce. Even if we get some work, we no longer take home any cash. We even incur so much debt during this tiggulutom (season of hunger),” she says.

Her face melts into an anguished expression. This annual crisis period tiempo muerto the locals also call tigkiriwi – an odd period when the sugar industry’s work force collectively grumbles in hunger and pain.

In Bacolod City, the capital of the country’s reputed “sugar bowl” Negros Occidental province, farmworkers are now on the third day of tiempo muerto-related protests led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-Negros and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), the local affiliate of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

Last Wednesday, hundreds of farmworkers like Nanay Lani tore up their pay slips in a picket in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office here in the city. Protests were also held in Escalante City, 63 kilometers north of Bacolod.

Today, farmworkers from different municipalities will converge at the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol to form a human chain. Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers. This year, tiempo muerto is aggravated by drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon. The province declared a state of calamity last April.

NFSW Chairperson Rolando Rillo says that farmworkers are not totally helpless during this crisis period. “Negros has a long history of struggle against exploitation and oppression by the island’s elite who also hold powerful positions or influence in national politics,” said Rillo.

The continued reign of the so-called “old rich,” the Marcos cronies like Danding Cojuangco and the Benedictos, and present-day despots like the Governor Maranon, prove that Negros remains a playground of caciques and landlords. Peasant unrest is constant.

UMA Secretary General Danilo Ramos, who joined the local protests, said that aside from immediate aid, government must support farmworkers asserting their land rights. In many areas, organized farmworkers have already embarked on land cultivation initiatives. But these bungkalan areas most often meet violent opposition from the landlords.

“The failure of the government’s land reform program CARP is most visible here in Negros. Farmworkers will not have to beg for aid during tiempo muerto if their initiatives for food security are given full support,” said Ramos.

One current controversial case is that of Hacienda Ilimnan in Sta. Rosa, Murcia town, a dispute-ridden landholding whose case the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently resolved in favor of farmworkers.

Contesting this decision is no less than Gov. Maranon, who deployed armed military and police to evict and harass farmworkers tilling a 12-hectare area last month. The farmworkers still stay in a makeshift camp-out within the Capitol compound to protest land grabbing and militarization.

Life is indeed bitter for our toiling sugar workers but their organized ranks are determined to wage various struggles to end hunger and the tiempo muerto.

In Congress, UMA supports the passage of the House Bill 555, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) proposed by Anakpawis Partylist. Ramos also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization.

“Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

Reference:     ROLANDO O. RILLO, Chairman, (MP No. 09462134157)
National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)

 

#Tiempo Muerto | Sugar workers still endure pakyaw, slave-like wage rates

13872680_1178935522147754_3819961551453009666_n

Protesting farmworkers tear up their payslips in front of the DOLE Regional Office in Bacolod City

BACOLOD CITY – “Tiempo Muerto” protests here in the country’s sugar bowl entered its second day today, as affected farmworkers trooped to concerned government institutions to hold picket-dialogues with local officials.

Tiempo Muerto (dead season) or the annual off-milling season in the sugar industry spells extreme hunger and bitter suffering for the thousands of affected farm workers and their dependents in Negros Island. During this lull between planting and harvest, workers are left without any source of income.

Yesterday, farmworkers led by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros were joined by Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General Danilo Ramos in protests in Bacolod City. NFSW member unions and associations in Escalante City, 63 kilometers north of Bacolod, also held protest marches and camp-outs to demand government aid.

Ramos said that farm workers have been suffering under slave-like conditions since the establishment of the hacienda system. “Sugar farmworkers endure perennial hunger and poverty year-in, year-out since the Spanish colonial period. But conditions are far worse during tiempo muerto.”

UMA said that hunger during off-milling season is also felt in other major sugar-producing areas such as Bukidnon, Isabela, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas; and Leyte and Panay islands. Minimum wage rates prescribed by regional wage boards are blatantly violated by hacienderos and aryendadors who perpetuate the oppressive “pakyaw” or piece-rate scheme.

Government statistics show that 30.5% of families in Region VI where Negros Occidental used to belong live in poverty, while in Negros Oriental, the figure is 46.6% of families. In Bukidnon province, the largest  sugar cane producing area next to Negros Island, 58.7% of families live in poverty.

“Wages can be as low as Php 13 a day in Isabela, while Php 200 a day is the highest average daily wage rate in all other areas. But we should remember that the hacienda system is also wrought with feudal patronage and usury. The encargados, or supervisors even frown upon workers who can take home more than a hundred pesos in cash for their weekly toil – it is still very common for workers to use up all their wages through debts in the hacienda’s management or ‘cooperative’ store even before they actually receive the money,” said Ramos.

“During tiempo muerto, wages can go as low as Php 500 for 15 days work, that is if the hacienda can even provide work for the dumaan (regular hacienda workers). How about the sakada (seasonal migratory workers)? How does government expect them to survive under these circumstances?”

Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers.

Aside from immediate aid, UMA also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization. “Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

13882146_1178944722146834_59294665674203831_n

Protests are also ongoing in Escalante City in Northern Negros.

 

Negros Sugar Workers Hold “Tiempo Muerto” Protests

13906875_1046091808802268_7266385844440692493_n

BACOLOD CITY – Tiempo Muerto (dead season) or the annual off-milling season in the sugar industry spells extreme hunger and bitter suffering for the thousands of affected farm workers and their dependents here in the country’s reputed “sugar bowl.” During this lull between planting and harvest, workers are left without any source of income.

Danilo Ramos, Secretary General of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), joins sugar workers from different Negros Occidental municipalities in protests here in Bacolod City today, as they demand immediate aid from concerned government institutions such as the Departments of Labor (DOLE), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Provincial Government.

“Sugar workers bear the brunt of tiempo muerto every year. They try to look for other modes of decent employment or livelihood but these are obviously scarce because Negros – in this day and age – is still dominated by a decrepit monocrop industry and by centuries-old feudal oppression,” said Ramos. Land monopoly and the traditional reign of hacienderos is still very much pronounced in Negros Region, where around 48% of Philippine sugarcane is produced.

The protest actions which will run until August 12 are led by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), UMA’s local affiliate in Negros, and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Negros.

Since June, or since the waning of the sugarcane harvest and milling season, farm workers have begun staging local protests and campaigns to ease the effects of tiempo muerto in various Negros municipalities and sugar districts such as Murcia, Don Salvador Benedicto, Talisay City, Silay City, EB Magalona, Manapla, and Escalante City. Tiempo Muerto will last until mid-September, when some of the haciendas begin cane harvest.

NFSW Chairperson Roland Rillo said that the protests are for the sugar workers’ very survival, as the dreaded tiempo muerto crisis period has “had a double whammy effect on sugar workers this year.” Like many other Philippine provinces, Negros Occidental was also hit by drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon since late last year until the first quarter of this year.

According to NFSW, the sugar haciendas can only offer “budgeted work” during tiempo muerto, usually non-productive tasks with fixed rates of only P500 to P1,000 every 15 days on average. “It redounds to a measly P8.33 to P16.66 budget per head per day for a family of hacienda workers with 4 members,” said Rillo.

On the other hand, sugar barons and mill owners who belong to the so-called “old rich” profit from the sweat and blood of their workers. A recent survey conducted by NFSW shows that sugar planters – or the usual hacienderos and their‘aryendador’ (lease agents or financiers) scions — amass an average of Php 80,000 net income from a 1-hectare sugarcane farm.

Sugar workers demand that the provincial government’s Php 40 M calamity funds, and the multi-million Social Amelioration Fund (SAF) handled by DOLE, be utilized to provide immediate relief to affected sugar workers.

Aside from immediate aid, UMA also called on the Duterte administration to heed the farmworkers’ demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization. “Tiempo Muerto will continue to be a season of hunger and death for sugar workers every year, if the country’s fundamental land problem is not seriously addressed,” ended Ramos.

13901324_1046093158802133_8129819348117283200_n

Press Release

Reference:       ROLANDO O. RILLO
Chairman, (MP No. 09462134157)
National Federation of Sugar Workers
August 10, 2016, Bacolod City

SUGAR WORKERS HOLD PROTEST FOR SURVIVAL

Hundreds of hacienda workers belonging to the National Federation of Sugar Workers and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros will troop to the Department of Labor and Employment, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and to the Provincial Government starting today until August 12, 2016 for this year’s “Tiempo Muerto”.

“We will ask the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that the unclaimed and undistributed Social Amelioration Fund (SAF), which already accumulated to millions of pesos, be used to aid us in this period”.

“Budgeted work in many haciendas now earns us an average of only P500 to P1,000 every 15 days”. It redounds to a measly P8.33 to P16.66 budget per head per day for a family of hacienda workers with 4 members.

A recent survey conducted by NFSW shows an average of P80,000.00 net income for planters from a 1 Hectare farmland planted by sugar cane.

This year’s Tiempo Muerto had a double whammy effect on the sugar workers as it coincided to El Nino Phenomenon that hit the province late last year until the first quarter of this year.

In fact, the provincial government declares state of calamity last April 2016 due to drought brought by the El Nino Phenomenon which authorized the Governor to use the Quick Respond Funds amounting to P40M. “We will ask the Governor where now this fund goes.”

“We will also call the attention of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for food aid in this time of crisis”.

The irony is that Tiempo Muerto is realities that even our government officials and government agencies knows it occurs every year but did nothing seriously to root out its cause.

Tiempo Muerto or Dead Season is an annual calamity to the families of 385,000 sugar workers in Negros. It is a phenomenon since Spanish period that firmly tied up to hunger and poverty of the sugarworkers.

The 28 years implementation of the government land reform program failed to break the socio economic set-up of land monopoly and hacienda system which gives birth to Tiempo Muerto Phenomenon every year.

“If the government is sincere enough to help us, they should pass the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill in Congress and initiate economic programs that truly break us free from perennial poverty in many haciendas”.

“We call on the Governor of this province and other concern agencies to release food assistance to the Sugar Workers”. “Stop Tiempos Muertos!”

(Bacolod City, Negros Island, August 10, 2016)

 

Farmworkers dare Duterte: pull-out troops protecting oligarchs in Negros

DSC00049

Police and soldiers armed with high-powered rifles harass farmworkers in Hacienda Ilimnan last July. More armed men and suspected goons were reportedly spotted in the area since then.  Photo by NFSW.

Supposed farmworker-beneficiaries of Hacienda Ilimnan in Murcia, Negros Occidental, site of an anomalous ranch project of the Provincial Government headed by Governor Alfredo Marañon, are appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately pull-out armed state forces deployed in the area.

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General Danilo Ramos said that the President must also “discipline” these government troops who are shamelessly protecting the interests of local oligarchs.

“Negros has been the traditional playground of caciques and landlords since the Spanish colonial period. President Duterte is well aware that troopers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and special units of the police, such as those currently harassing farmworkers in Ilimnan, are most often than not corrupt mercenaries serving as ‘private armies’ of society’s powerful elite,” said Ramos.

“If the President is truly for a just peace, he must go after these abusive oligarchs and dismantle their private armies and goons. He must start by listening to the appeal of small farmworkers in Ilimnan and most any other hacienda in Negros. Farmworkers are still enslaved by hunger and poverty, and are being threatened, shot at, and massacred by goons and soldiers,” added Ramos.

Since Juy 15, a peasant camp-out by members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP) in Negros and the Hacienda Ilimnan Farmworkers Association-National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)-UMA, has been ongoing at the Provincial Government compound in Bacolod City to protest against militarization and the unjust eviction of farmers.

Farmworkers say that Gov. Marañon has resorted to harassment and intimidation using government troops after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued a decision in favor of the farmers. Last May, the DAR’s Land Use Case Division –Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance denied the Provincial Government’s Petition for Exemption / Exclusion on the said landholdings.

Last month, some 40 farmworkers embarked on land cultivation of around 12 hectares in Ilimnan for food crops to ease extreme hunger and poverty in the community due to the annual tiempo muerto or off-milling season. This year’s tiempo muerto is aggravated by drought caused by El Nino.

Instead of abiding by the DAR decision, the Provincial Government forcefully insisted on holding on to the lands with brute force. State troopers and goons immediately evicted the farm workers. The eviction order was given by Marañon and executed by Col. Mario Baquiran of the Special Action Forces. Other than that, the police set up barbed wire fences around the area to bar farmers from embarking on land cultivation.

The 12-hectare area is part of a 155-hectare property formerly owned by the Arguelles family who sold the land to the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental in 2010. Since then, the land has become a subject of a long-running legal battle between supposed land reform beneficiaries composed of hacienda workers and the provincial government which supposedly “developed” the area into the Negros First Ranch livestock farm.

NFSW has also appealed to DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano to immediately facilitate land acquisition and distribution of 101 hectares of Hacienda Ilimnan and 55 hectares of Hacienda Arloc to legitimate farmers and farm workers.

Agriworkers, Church people add voice to peace clamor

peacetarp1

AUGUST 5, 2016 — The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the Church People – Workers Solidarity (CWS) called on both the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to ensure that the long-awaited resumption of peace talks push through as scheduled on August 20.

Agriworkers and church people came together for a symbolic action today along E. Rodriguez Avenue in New Manila, Quezon City to express their strong call for the continuation of stalled negotiations amid recent “spoilers” that may disrupt the peace process.

“At stake in the resumption of the talks is the welfare of ordinary folk like peasants and agriworkers. Poverty, hunger and slave-like working conditions in the countryside have pushed many to take up arms,” said Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, UMA Secretary General.

He also noted that last week’s uproar over incidents after Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire must not hinder both parties from sincerely addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. Ramos said that the concerns of agricultural workers would hopefully be discussed in the talks’ substantive agenda on Socio-Economic Reforms (SER).

Earlier, representatives from agricultural workers and church people gathered at the Fr. Dela Cruz Mission Hall in New Manila to discuss the dire situation of the country’s agriworkers in banana, pineapple, sugar cane, and oil palm plantations.

According to UMA, agricultural workers are burdened with heavy and hazardous workload in haciendas and plantations in exchange for very low and slave-like wages. They are the victims of various forms of exploitation while creating massive wealth and profits for big landlords and local businessmen, and giant multinational and transnational agricorporations.

Testimonials from Luisita farmworkers led by Florida Sibayan of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), meanwhile emphasized that peace can be achieved by hearing out their cry for land and justice.

Ramos said that agriworkers had high hopes for the success of the peace process after an agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH)  and the NDFP was immediately forged during preliminary talks in Oslo, Norway last June.

“We particularly call on the Duterte government make true his commitment to release all political prisoners, most of whom are peasant advocates fighting for the rights of the rural poor,” said Ramos, himself many times a victim of trumped-up charges and harassment suits filed by state actors to suppress legitimate dissent.

“Violent suppression of the right to organize and criminalization of agrarian disputes leave many peasants and agriworkers with no choice but to rebel. Agriworkers in Mindanao plantations are harassed, intimidated, and  shot at by the military because of their union activities,” Ramos also urged Duterte to pull-out military and paramilitary troops victimizing civilian communities and workplaces.

“The worst case was the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004 when sugar workers were killed in a bloody dispersal. Peace is equal to silencing dissent, for the warmongers and militarists in government who are still profiting from protection rackets in favor of despotic landlords and big businesses like mining and plantations. The peace we want is a peace based on justice,” ended Ramos. ##

peacetarp2.jpg

Pagpupugay sa buhay at pakikibaka ni Romeo “Apong Fernan” Corpuz ng Hacienda Luisita

apong fernan w

Larawan mula sa Tudla Productions

Pakikiramay ang ipinapaabot ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) sa naiwang pamilya, mga kababaryo at kasama sa pakikibaka ni Romeo “Ka Fernan” Corpuz, magiting na aktibista at miyembro ng Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita o AMBALA.

Ang hindi inaasahang pagpanaw ni Apong Fernan sa edad na 53 ay dulot na rin ng tuluy-tuloy na pagkakasakit magmula nang maging biktima ng karahasan sa loob ng Hacienda Luisita noong 2014.

Nagpupugay kami sa buhay at pakikibaka ni Kasamang Fernan. Si Ka Fernan, katulad ng iba pa niyang kaanak, kababaryo at kapwa-magbubukid ay naging bahagi ng pakikibaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa at hustisyang panlipunan. Saksi ang kanilang buong pamilya sa paulit-ulit na panloloko, pandarahas at pangangamkam ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino at ng estado, lalo na sa ilalim ng administrasyon ni BS Aquino. Sa halip na ipamahagi ang lupa, itinaboy ni BS Aquino ang mga nagbubungkal sa pamamagitan ng armadong dahas, kilo-kilometrong mga bakod at alambreng tinik.

Noong Marso 2014, isa si Ka Fernan sa mga malubhang nasugatan at nasaktan sa kumprontasyon sa mga tauhan ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino at TADECO. Tinangka ni Ka Fernan na salagin ang paghampas ng mga pala at martilyo kung kaya nabali ang kanyang mga daliri sa kamay. Sa halip na bigyan ng kagyat na atensyong medikal, si Ka Fernan, kasama ng dalawa pang biktima ay dinampot at kinasuhan ng mga pulis. Isinailalim sa hospital arrest si Ka Fernan, at bantay-sarado ng mga pulis kahit idinadaing na rin niya noon ang sakit sa puso. Dahil sa marahas na insidenteng ito ay hindi na nakapagtrabaho si Ka Fernan bilang mekaniko.

Ang pangyayaring ito ay hindi naging balakid kay Ka Fernan para ituloy ang laban ng mga manggagawang-bukid. Naging tagapagsalita siya sa ilang okasyon at nagbahagi ng kanyang karanasan upang mamulat ang iba’t ibang sektor gaya ng kabataang estudyante at taong simbahan sa Maynila. Hindi lamang ang sariling sakripisyo ang naikuwento ni Ka Fernan sa iba. Malinaw din niyang naipapaliwanag ang patuloy na pakikibaka ng mga magbubukid ng Hacienda Luisita.

Kasama si Ka Fernan sa delegasyon mula sa Hacienda Luisita na humarap kay Ka Paeng Mariano, ang bagong kalihim ng Department of Agrarian Reform nito lamang Hulyo 8. Nagbigay siya ng testimonya kaugnay ng panggigipit at panunupil na naranasan ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa ilalim ni BS Aquino. May hatid mang pag-asa ang bagong sitwasyon, lupa at hustisya ang patuloy na isisigaw ng mga manggagawang-bukid hangga’t hindi pa ito natatamasa sa Hacienda Luisita.

Pumanaw na si Ka Fernan, ngunit hindi pa rin naibabasura ang gawa-gawang kaso ng “physical injuries” na isinampa ng mga tauhan ng Cojuangco-Aquino laban sa kanya at dalawa pang magbubukid na nasaktan sa nasabing madugong insidente. Samantala, ang daan-daang kontra-reklamo na inihain ni Ka Fernan at ng marami pang ibang magbubukid laban sa mga Cojuangco-Aquino sa Department of Justice ay hindi pa rin naaaksyunan. Batid natin na ang tunay na pagbabago ay magmumula pa rin sa ating patuloy na pakikibaka at sama-samang pagkilos.

Ang alaala at magiting na halimbawa ni Ka Fernan at ng nauna pang mga martir ng Hacienda Luisita ay inspirasyon sa ating lahat. Tuloy ang laban upang bawiin ang lupang matagal nang ipinagkait sa magbubukid! Tuloy ang laban upang itaguyod at depensahan ang sama-samang bungkalan at kooperasyon sa produksyon! Tuloy ang laban upang makamit ang katarungan para sa lahat ng biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang-pantao sa Hacienda Luisita! Tuloy ang laban para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, pambansang industriyalisasyon, tunay na kaunlaran at pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa ating buong bayan!

Mabuhay ang alaala ni Ka Fernan!

UNYON NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA AGRIKULTURA (UMA)

#TiempoMuerto | Negros sugar workers occupy Hacienda Ilimnan

ilimnan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2016

More than 40 hacienda workers occupied Hacienda Illiman in Barangay Sta Rosa, Murcia, Negros Occidental to plant food crops last Monday, July 11, at 10 in the morning.

This is the latest initiative by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) to establish the bungkalan or land cultivation areas to ease hunger of farmworkers toiling for slave wages in vast sugar haciendas in Negros Island. The Hda. Ilimnan Farm Workers Association-NFSW is an affiliate of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

Hacienda Illimnan is a 155-hectare property formerly owned by the Arguelles family who sold the land to the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental in 2010. Since then, the land has been a subject of a long running legal battle between supposed land reform beneficiaries composed of hacienda workers and the provincial government.

In May 2016, the Bureau of Legal Assistance or BALA of the DAR Central office finally issued a decision denying the Application for Exemption filed by the Provincial Government. The DAR – Negros Occidental then issued a Memorandum to Proceed to start the process for land coverage immediately.

The land has been applied for CARP coverage by more than 100 hacienda workers sometime in 1993. In 1998, the DAR in Murcia town had the beneficiaries sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking or APFU, a promissory note to ensure amortization payments under the CARP law.

Reeling from the effects of the El Nino phenomenon that struck late last year until April this year, further aggravated by the current off-milling season or Tiempo Muerto which started last June and will peak in this month of August, the farm workers decided to occupy and cultivate the land to plant palay as a means to solve hunger and lack of income caused by the absence of productive work in haciendas.

Yesterday afternoon, July 12, an emergency dialogue was conducted between the representative of the hacienda workers and the Provincial Government Legal Office, Atty. Jose Maria Valencia, with the presence of the Chief of Negros Occidental Police Office and PARO Tess Mabunay of DAR – Negros Occidental.

The dialogue ended in a deadlock with a threat from the Chief of Police of Murcia that any farmer who dares to enter Ilimnan to cultivate the land today will be arrested and jailed.

In the face of hunger and without work in the hacienda, the farmworkers stood their ground and will continue to plant palay and other food crops, despite threats of imprisonment.

“Long after the expiration of the bogus CARP law, supposed beneficiaries still suffer harassment from authorities who are supposed to protect the interest of tillers. We laud the courage of the farmworkers in Hacienda Ilimnan,” said Danilo Ramos, UMA Secretary General.

“A new and genuine land reform law must be put in place to protect our farmers and farmworkers. We therefore push for the immediate enactment of House Bill 555, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) re-filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao in the 17th Congress,” said Ramos.

References:     DANNY TABURA
                          Chairman, MP No. 09124373899
                           Hda. Illiman Farm Workers Association – NFSW
 

                           GI ESTRADA, UMA Media Officer, 09166114181

Luista Farmers to DAR: Nullify Aquino’s Fake Land Distribution

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 NEWS

More than a hundred Hacienda Luisita farmers met Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano today to demand the nullification of fake land distribution implemented under former President BS Aquino, a scion of the landlord Cojuangco-Aquino family, through the DAR led by former secretary Virgilio de los Reyes.

The farmers from the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) said that Aquino’s bogus implementation contravened the 2012 Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in the controversial sugar estate. AMBALA is the local affiliate of the national agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

At the same time, AMBALA also sought Ka Paeng’s assistance in seeking justice for victims of fresh rights violations allegedly perpetrated under orders from the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the former DAR administration. The latest incident involving Cojuangco-Aquino personnel is the destruction of crops in collective farms in barangay Mapalacsiao which happened on July 1, the very day Sec. Mariano was installed as DAR secretary.

According to UMA Secretary General Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, AMBALA farmers petitioned the new DAR administration to pursue the following:

  1. Declare null and void fake land distribution implemented by DAR through “tambiolo” lottery.
  2. Revoke the 1996 conversion order issued by the DAR on 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) property eventually ceded to RCBC, CHI, LIPCO and LRC. The said property was never converted to other purposes for several years until part of which was allocated for a PPP solar power plant approved by former President BS Aquino. The solar project was built only last year by the Department of Energy via a contract with PetroGreen, a sister company of RCBC, and through force and intimidation of the farming community.
  3. Ensure the SC-mandated audit of the P1.33 billion share of farmworkers from the sale of HLI land assets. Ensure that the auditing firm chosen by majority of stakeholders be affirmed, instead of the wishes of the HLI and the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
  4. Report on the complete status of land reform in Hacienda Luisita, and cover more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural land deliberately excluded for distribution by the former administration in violation of the DAR’s mandate and the 2012 Supreme Court ruling. These areas are still under the control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos through their various corporate avatars such as TADECO, Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC), Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), etc.
  5. Categorize as agrarian disputes all civil and criminal cases and harassment suits filed against the farmers and their advocates.
  6. Pull-out all military and paramilitary troops within Hacienda Luisita, including the company headquarters of the 31st coy of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion located right smack in the disputed TADECO area in Barangay Balete. Dismantle all CAFGU detachments and units deployed in almost all Luisita barangays. Hacienda Luisita is located very near the biggest military camp in the region, Camp Aquino, the headquarters of Northen Luzon Command. Militarization has only served to coerce and intimidate farmers who continue to fight for land and justice especially after the Hacienda Luisita massacre of 2004.

Mariano has publicly pronounced immediate action on Hacienda Luisita, even before his appointment as DAR secretary. On July 1, he called police officials in Tarlac to ensure that no punitive action be taken against the farm workers to ease the tension in Mapalacsiao and other Luisita barangays.

Mariano also informed the farmworkers that he had already issued a legal memorandum in Mapalacsiao for the status quo to remain and to investigate the destruction of farmers’ crops and file appropriate charges against the perpetrators.

Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA Media Officer, 09166114181