FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2015
Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA media officer – 09166114181
Criminal complaints already filed but gathering dust at DOJ
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today challenged President Aquino, his spokespersons and involved government agencies to stop issuing mere “damage control” statements against Presidential Kabarilan Virgie Torres, and immediately act on criminal complaints already filed against her.
UMA Acting Chairperson John Milton Lozande said that Aquino can immediately prove his sincerity in “punishing wrongdoers” by simply looking into strong complaints made against Torres by Hacienda Luisita farmers last year, which are now gathering dust at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Complaints of malicious mischief, grave threats and grave coercion against Torres, et al with docket number XVI-INV-14J-00352 were filed October 2014 at the DOJ, by Luisita farmers assisted by Atty. Jobert Pahilga of the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA).
Torres is embroiled in a sugar smuggling scandal at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), where she allegedly used her links with President Aquino by emphasizing that she leases land (in Hacienda Luisita) and they plant sugarcane together.
“Puro lang salita at pagdistansya kay Virgie Torres ang ginagawa ng Malacanang at pati na ni Secretary delos Reyes ng DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). Sa totoo lang, lahat naman sila ay kasabwat sa mga ilegal na transaksyon ni Torres, (Malacanang and even DAR Sec. delos Reyes keep on harping empty words distancing themselves from Virgie Torres. But they are all actually complicit in her illegal transactions,” said Rudy Corpuz, vice-chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita or AMBALA.
AMBALA is UMA’s local affiliate in Tarlac province.
In radio interviews, Virgie Torres already admitted that she is into leasing lands in Hacienda Luisita, a practice which victimizes supposed farmworker-beneficiaries of the 2012 Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in the controversial sugar estate.
“We believe that the DAR has complete knowledge of Torres’s transactions in Luisita. According to the victims, even local DAR lawyers and employees go out of their way to personally facilitate transactions and even the violent eviction of farmers and destruction of their food crops to make way for Torres’s sugarcane aryendo with the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” said Lozande.
According to AMBALA, Torres is practically a resident of Barangay Mapalacsiao in Hacienda Luisita, which she frequents because she has effective control over at least 200 hectares of land in this barangay alone. Torres also allegedly maintains a garage of heavy equipment and a storage house for farm inputs also within Mapalacsiao.
Corpuz added that it is not only Virgie Torres or DAR officials who are implicated in recent criminal acts in Luisita, but also goons of the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) owned by the President’s kin, and the police and military officers under their command.
Even the pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its Extension with Reforms (CARPER) prohibit the sale or lease of farmlots allocated through land reform, for a ten-year holding period.
“We would not be surprised if, through their so-called investigations, these corrupt DAR officials and Aquino’s rabid minions would conclude that the Torres land scam is ultimately the fault of the thousands of supposed Luisita beneficiaries swindled and coerced by Aquino’s fake land distribution process,” said Lozande.
“What can we expect from despotic landlords? Even with the Hacienda Luisita massacre more than ten years ago, Aquino callously blamed the dead and the wounded for the carnage,” said Lozande.
One video uploaded by Luisita Watch (https://youtu.be/UvkH32Deo2U) emphasizes the role of local DAR officials in facilitating the destruction of farmers’ crops in Brgy. Mapalacsiao, where Torres controls at least 200 hectares of land.