#BonifacioDay2015 | Haciendas, Export-Crop Plantations Remain

Bonifacio

NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NOVEMBER 30, 2015
Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA Media Officer, 0916.611.4181

One hundred fifty two years after the birth of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the revolutionary movement Katipunan, exploitative conditions in vast haciendas and plantations remain in the Philippines.

The national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said that farm and agricultural workers continue to slave away to produce cash crops for the interests of foreign enterprises and the local landowning elite – the same cycle of oppression that Bonifacio and the Katipunan sought to change.

“Land reform and the emancipation of farmers and the people were the main aims of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Up to this day, however, brutal oppression in these types of landholdings persists and continues to cause misery to farmers and agricultural workers,” said Ranmil Echanis, UMA Secretary General.

The hacienda system was introduced by Spanish colonialists in the 19th century to produce crops for export.  This system was further encouraged by the colonial regime of US imperialism which maintained and depended on feudalism as its social base.

“US Imperialism enlisted the loyal support of the local elite who allowed themselves to be tamed by the US for local political leadership.  This became necessary for the US to ensure the continuous supply of raw materials such as sugar, hemp, coconut and other agricultural products from its new colony. This also favors the interests of the local ruling elite who were either landlords themselves or compradors.”

“The loyal adherence of the local landowning elite and big comprador bourgeoisie to impositions of imperialism make up the semi-feudal economy which plagues the country up to the present,” said Echanis. Spanish-era haciendas like Hacienda Luisita and plantations established during the American colonial period like Del Monte Foods, Inc. are still in existence and continue to operate.

These landholdings are part of the millions of hectares of agricultural land that are tied down to onerous contracts between supposed land reform beneficiaries and giant agribusiness firms. The government’s failed agrarian reform program CARP has worked perfectly for the interest of giant companies as it encouraged agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to become outgrowers or to lease their lands with onerous contracts or agribusiness venture arrangements (AVAs).

“Instead of sincerely providing land to the tiller, the government is still targeting expansion of plantations,” added Echanis.  “Plantations have also bred many forms of precarious employment victimizing agricultural workers enduring hard labor and exposure to harmful chemicals while being paid only slave-like wages.”

In Mindanao alone, these include the following:  256,360 hectares for sugarcane; 150,000 hectares for cacao by 2020; 116,000 hectares for rubber; 87,903 hectares for coffee plantations; and almost one (1) million hectares of oil palm plantations by 2030. In addition to these, multinational fruit giant Dole Philippines has expressed its intention to expand to at least 12,000 hectares of land for its pineapple plantation; same with Unifrutti, which recently invested P3.7 billion for an expansion of 2,600 hectares of land for banana Cavendish plantations in Moro areas such as Maguindanao.

Foreign plunder continues to result in dispossession and displacement of numerous lumad, Moro and peasant communities. “The guardia civil of yesteryears are now replaced by the state and private security forces who brazenly violate the rights of the people,” said Echanis.

“Bonifacio, the hero of the ‘anakpawis’ or toiling masses, continues to inspire farmers and agricultural workers to organize themselves and fight for genuine land reform and national sovereignty, ” ended Echanis.

In Congress, UMA supports the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 252 filed by Anakpawis Partylist.

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BS Aquino attacks Luisita farmers anew in shady PPP deal

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  NOVEMBER 26, 2015
Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA Media Officer, 0916.611.4181

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) strongly condemns the recent attacks and state violence against Hacienda Luisita farmworkers who are opposed to the Tarlac Solar Power Project.

UMA denounces the attack against the chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), Florida Sibayan, who was assaulted November 21 by a person hired by subcontractors working for the PetroSolar Corporation, the Department of Energy’s (DoE) private partner in the construction of the said project. We also assail intensified police and military presence in Barangays Balete, Lourdes (Texas) and Central all within Hacienda Luisita, deployed by the state to secure this new public-private partnership (PPP) project of the haciendero BS Aquino government.

The construction of BS Aquino’s Tarlac Solar Power Project masks renewed landgrabbing efforts in Hacienda Luisita through a purported “environment-friendly” endeavor. Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap has already called for the cancellation of this project.

The proposed site of this solar power plant is within a 500-hectare disputed agricultural area immorally claimed by the Cojuangco-Aquino firm Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) and the RCBC, a commercial bank owned by the Yuchengco family along with PetroSolar and. Electrical posts will also traverse a 260-hectare agricultural area claimed by another Cojuangco-Aquino firm, TADECO.

This shady PPP deal between BS Aquino and long-time business partners of the Cojuangco-Aquinos is expected to intensify the reign of impunity and sham land reform in Luisita made possible through the “Daang Matuwid” farce.

Farmers cultivating these areas have been displaced by orchestrated violent attacks by RCBC and the state with the implementation of Oplan April Spring since 2011. From 2013-2014, the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) belated issuance of a Notice of Land Reform Coverage (NOC) for TADECO lands did not prevent police and goons from bulldozing crops and burning homes to forcibly evict the farmers.

AMBALA, through its counsels from the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA), still has a pending petition to revoke the DAR conversion order, issued way back in 1996, for the disputed 500-hectare agricultural area. We believe that the completion of the Tarlac Solar Power Project will set a precedent that may lead to the complete wipe-out of Hacienda Luisita’s farming community.

Hacienda Luisita residents must not be lured by the promise of benefits from this solar project. Cheap or free electricity will be for naught once farmers and residents have been completely evicted and displaced to make way for grandiose development projects such as this. This solar power plant is part of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s Luisita Ecozone project, a long-standing development plan which has spawned more state repression and killings in Hacienda Luisita after the gruesome massacre of 2004. We must not forget that Tarlac City Councilor Abelardo Ladera, a proud son of Barangay Balete in Hacienda Luisita, was killed ten years ago for his expose and vocal opposition against the Cojuangcos’ ecozone plan.

The Cojuangco-Aquinos and their Hacienda Luisita, Inc (HLI) still owe the farmworkers a staggering debt of Php 1.33 billion for the highly-irregular sale of land assets under agrarian reform, including this 500-hectare property. The Supreme Court order for the audit of these assets must be pursued independently and should not be made a cunning bargaining chip by the HLI, LRC, RCBC or PetroSolar to diffuse opposition to Aquino’s PPP solar project.

The intense life and death struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmers has already proven that the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their corporate avatars have absolutely no historical, moral, or legal right to lay claim to the vast agricultural lands of Hacienda Luisita. UMA stands with Hacienda Luisita farmworkers who are consistently fighting for genuine land reform and social justice.

Maanomalyang PPP sa Luisita, panibagong atake ni BS Aquino laban sa mga magsasaka

Pahayag ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

Mariing kinokondena ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) ang panibagong mga atake at karahasan ng estado laban sa mga manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita na tumututol sa Tarlac Solar Power Project.

Kinokondena ng UMA ang atake laban sa tagapangulo ng Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita na si Florida Sibayan, na noong Nobyembre 21 ay sinuntok ng isang bayaran ng subcontractor ng PetroSolar Corporation, ang kasosyo ng Department of Energy (DoE) sa pagtatayo ng naturang proyekto. Tinututulan din namin ang pinaigting na militarisasyon o pagtatambak ng mga pulis at sundalo upang protektahan itong bagong public-private partnership project (PPP) ng hacienderong gobyerno ni BS Aquino.

Ang panibagong mga maniobra sa pangangamkam ng lupa ay itinatago ni BS Aquino sa pamamagitan ng proyektong ito na diumano’y “mabuti-sa-kalikasan” (environment-friendly). Nauna nang ipinanawagan ni Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap ang kanselasyon ng proyektong ito.

Ang lugar na pagtatayuan ng solar power plant ay saklaw ng 500-ektaryang agrikultural na lupa na inaangkin ng Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC), isang kumpanya ng Cojuangco-Aquino, at ng RCBC, isang bangko na pagmamay-ari ng pamilya Yuchengco, gaya ng kumpanyang PetroSolar at PetroGreen Energy Corp. Ang mga poste ng kuryente ay dadaan sa 260-ektaryang agrikultural na erya na inaangkin naman ng TADECO, isa pang kumpanya ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino.

Ang maanomalyang PPP na ito sa pagitan ni BS Aquino at ng mga datihang kasosyo ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino ay inaasahang magpapalala sa kawalan ng pananagutan at bogus na reporma sa lupa na umiiral sa Hacienda Luisita sa pamamagitan ng kalokohan ng “Daang Matuwid.”

Ang mga magsasakang naglilinang ng lupain dito ay napalayas dahil sa marahas at sistematikong mga atake ng RCBC at ng estado na nagpakawala ng Oplan April Spring mula 2011. Mula 2013-2014, ang pag-iisyu ng DAR ng huli na at walang saysay na Notice of Coverage (NOC) para sa saklaw ng TADECO ay hindi nakapigil, bagkus naging hudyat pa nga ng mga pulis at bayaran para ituloy ang pagbubuldoser at panununog ng mga kubo para sapilitang itaboy ang mga magsasaka.

Ang AMBALA, sa pamamagitan ng mga abugado nito sa SENTRA ay may nakabinbin pang petisyon para sa ibasura o i-revoke ang conversion order na inisyu ng DAR noon pang 1996 para sa 500-ektaryang lupa na ito. Naniniwala kami na ang pagkukumpleto ng Tarlac Solar Power Project ay magbibigay-daan sa ibayong pangangamkam na maaaring tumungo sa malawakang pagpapalayas sa mga magsasaka sa buong Hacienda Luisita.

Ang mga residente ng Hacienda Luisita ay hindi dapat magpasilaw sa mga pangakong benepisyo mula sa proyektong ito. Ang mura o libreng kuryente ay walang saysay kung ang mga magsasaka at residente ay mapapalayas at mawawalan ng kabuhayan sa pagsasaka para lang bigyang-daan ang mga tinaguriang “development project” na gaya nito. Ang proyektong ito ay bahagi lang ng Luisita Ecozone, na matagal nang plano ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino. Naging mitsa ito ng ibayong panunupil at sunud-sunod na pagpaslang matapos ang masaker sa Hacienda Luisita noong 2004. Huwag nating kalimutan na si Konsehal Abel Ladera, isang mabuting anak ng Barangay Balete sa Hacienda Luisita, ay pinaslang sampung taon na ang nakararaan nang dahil sa paglalantad at matapang niyang pagtutol sa planong ecozone ng mga Cojuangco.

Ang mga Cojuangco-Aquino at ang kanilang Hacienda Luisita, Inc (HLI) ay may utang pang Php 1.33 bilyon sa mga manggagawang-bukid dahil sa maanomalyang pagbebenta ng mga lupaing nasa ilalim ng repormang agraryo, kabilang na ang 500-ektaryang lupa na ito. Ang utos ng Korte Suprema para sa audit ng perang ito ay dapat ipursige bilang hiwalay na obligasyon – hindi ito dapat maging tusong alok mula sa HLI, LRC, RCBC o PetroSolar para lang mapigilan ang mainit na pagtutol ng mga manggagawang-bukid laban sa PPP solar project ni Aquino.

Napatunayan na ng maigting na buhay at kamatayang pakikibaka ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Luisita na ang mga Cojuangco-Aquino at ang mga kinatawan nilang korporasyon ay walang istorikal, moral at legal na karapatan para mag-angkin ng malalawak na lupaing agrikultural sa Hacienda Luisita. Naninindigan ang UMA kasama ng mga manggagawang-bukid ng Hacienda Luisita na tuluy-tuloy na nakikibaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa at hustisyang panlipunan.

 

Luisita massacre’s 11th year: Unite! Fight APEC’s attacks on workers’ rights! -KMU

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Statement by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)

Today, we mark the 11th year of the massacre at Hacienda Luisita which killed seven people and wounded hundreds. No one has been jailed over this gruesome crime, eleven years hence. Luisita’s lands, which the farm workers have demanded for, remain firmly in the hands of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. This, despite the justness of distributing the lands to farmworkers and a Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution.

The Hacienda Luisita massacre was carried out in order to attack and end the farm workers’ strike, which was caused by extremely low wages in the hacienda’s sugar mill. As of late, it is the most brutal incident of trade-union repression in the Philippines and among the most savage cases of violence against farm workers in the world.

We mark the 11th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre just a few days before the country hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. Trade-union repression and other forms of attacks on workers’ rights are central to the APEC, whose thrust is to further increase the profits of the biggest capitalists in the world and the Philippines to the detriment of workers, the poor and the environment. The best way to pay tribute to the martyrs of Luisita is to continue their struggle for a better world for workers against big foreign and local capitalists and their instruments like the APEC.

APEC 2015’s rhetoric of “investing in human capital” is all about producing cheap, semi-skilled and repressed labor from underdeveloped countries like the Philippines. It will intensify APEC’s long-standing policy of pressing down wages, promoting contractual employment, violating workers’ rights to form unions and hold strikes, and removing all regulations that protect workers, including those on workplace safety.

We are calling on all workers and all Filipinos to join protests in time for the APEC Summit. Let us show our condemnation of APEC’s existing anti-worker, anti-people and anti-environment policies. Let us show our opposition of the policies which APEC 2015 seeks to approve and impose on the workers and peoples of the world.

 

Read also: BAYAN USA statement on the 11th Anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre

Impunity reigns 11 years after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre

NEWS

“The reign of impunity is coterminus with the Aquino-Cojuangcos and Daang Matuwid (Righteous Path)”

This is the observation made by activists, agrarian reform and human rights advocates from all over the world as they remembered the life and struggle of Luisita farmworkers in a solidarity action to commemorate the 11th year of the Hacienda Luisita massacre today.

On November 16, 2004, seven farmworkers were killed while hundreds of others were wounded and detained after state forces opened fire on their picketline and violently dispersed sugar workers led by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) both then on strike.

Filipino activist groups such as the Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), led the action which was participated in by delegates of the 5th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles or ILPS, also held in Quezon City.

“It pays to be in power – this best exemplifies why justice still eludes Hacienda Luisita massacre victims,” according to Ranmil Echanis, UMA secretary general.

“Since President BS Aquino assumed power five (5) years ago, the Ombudsman dismissed all the remaining charges against the perpetrators of the massacre,” he said. Recently retired Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, one of the ground commanders during the violent dispersal in Luisita eleven years ago, was even promoted by BS Aquino to the top AFP post.

“Aquino’s electoral promise to implement land reform was just for show,” said Echanis. When Aquino assumed power in June 2010, Aquino-Cojuangcos immediately maneuvered to impose one evil scheme after another.

At first, the Aquino-Cojuangcos even pushed for a “compromise deal” to revive the oppressive Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme in the 6,453-hectare estate. This was eventually rebuffed by the farm workers and even by the SC itself when it ruled to revoke the 16-year-old SDO scheme in November 2011.

In 2011, “Oplan April Spring” was also hatched by the Aquino-Cojuangcos and RCBC. This strategy aimed to destroy the farmers’ opposition to RCBC’s claims within a 500-hectare property disputed by farmworkers. The Oplan utilized massive propaganda and mass deception, state violence, underhanded legal maneuvers, and even corruption and bribery of community leaders.

The HLI’s sale of the above-mentioned property is mired in dispute as the auditing and payment of the P1.33 billion share of farm worker beneficiaries (FWB’s) have been effectively stalled. Presently, a solar power plant is even being set-up in the disputed property which traverses other disputed lands being grabbed by Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO), another Aquino-Cojuangco firm.

“When the SC ruled with finality for total land distribution of Luisita in April 24, 2012, BS Aquino vented his ire on Chief Justice Renato Corona. The latter was found guilty by the President’s allies in the Senate who were purportedly awarded with huge sums through the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program, (DAP),” he added.

Landlord compensation awarded to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan amounting to P451.7 million was also allegedly sourced from DAP. Still, the landlords reportedly want to jack up further the value of the property and demand more payment from government funds.

So-called land distribution in Luisita was practically implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) at gunpoint, through a rather unorthodox “tambiolo” or raffle draw scheme. The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), UMA’s local affiliate in Tarlac, says that this was done to pit farmers against each other and to destroy and undermine the bungkalan or land cultivation campaign that  farmers initiated in 2005.

Other than that, the DAR deliberately excluded more than one thousand hectares for land distribution despite the SC order and its own mandate to cover agricultural lands in Luisita for land reform. This resulted in a series of violent evictions, bulldozing, and filing of trumped-up charges against farmers and advocates alike.

As for the beneficiaries allocated individual 6,600 sqm. farmlots, most of them have been coerced to lease to HLI dummies likeVirginia Torres, a known Kabarilan of the President.  Leaseback or the “aryendo” aims to reconcentrate land reform areas back to the control of the Aquino-Cojuangcos. Torres was recently implicated in a sugar smuggling scandal but no charges were ever filed against her.

The Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) was also sold to businessman Martin Lorenzo, but 49% of its shares are still owned by the President’s kin. This resulted in the retrenchment of all the 700 or so regular workers and supervisors, turning those to be rehired as contract workers. The sale of CAT is seen as a ploy to exempt the property from being pried upon by the auditors ordered by the SC to look into HLI’s assets.

“The reign of panloloko, pangangamkam and pandarahas (deception, violence and landgrabbing) in Hacienda Luisita is not a surprise,” said Echanis.

“BS Aquino, after all, is a haciendero (landlord) president and is the main agent of US imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. He employs fascist attacks against the people to ensure that neoliberal policies are implemented in the country,”

UMA will join people’s protests against imperialist globalization and the APEC meetings this November.

 

ILPS EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES TO THE FRENCH PEOPLE, CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS IN PARIS ON NOV 13

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By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, express our sincerest condolences to the people of France and condemn in the strongest terms the terrrorist attacks in several crowded areas of Paris on November 13 that killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 200 (99 of whom suffered serious injuries) with the use of assault rifles and bombs. The casualties are still being assessed.

Such systematic mass murder of civilians is an unmitigated crime against humanity and can never be construed as a just political act. It is of the same fabric as the worst kind of terrorism that such imperialist powers as the US, other NATO members, and such regional proxies as Israel, unleash through wars of aggression and special military operations that murder and maim millions of civilians, destroy their social infrastructure and displace the people from their homes and land. In Iraq alone, the US killed 1.4 million Iraqi civilians and turned millions of people into refugees.

The Daesh or Islamic State (also called the ISIS or ISIL or the State of the caliphate) has already declared responsibility for the heinous crime and has detailed how it deployed eight operatives with assault rifles and bomb belts to wreak murder and mayhem. The targets included the Bataclan concert hall where most of the victims were killed, the vicinity of the Stade de France where French president Hollande was watching a friendship football game between France and Germany, La Belle Equipe, Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge.

This evil force Daesh was originally created, trained, armed and supplied by the US, UK, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to further debilitate and destabilize governments, like those of Syria and Iran, that oppose US imperialism and Zionist Israel in the Middle East. The imperialist powers would later shed crocodile tears only after the Daesh brazenly beheaded Western journalists and Christians and would pretend to fight them. It is now the Russian air force and the Syrian and Kurdish ground forces that are now effectively fighting the Daesh.

The Daesh is the outgrowth or blowback of the wars of aggression unleashed by the US and NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the destruction of the Qaddafi government in Libya. The imperialist powers organized the Daesh in recent times for the purpose of threatening governments in Iraq, Syria and Iran and disposing stocks of weapons from post Qaddafi Libya via Turkey and Jordan.

Trying in vain to justify its terrorist attacks in Paris, the Daesh accuses France of participating in bombing raids on Daesh positions in Syria and engaging in an anti-Muslim crusade in the Middle East together with the US. The Daesh is a mini-terrorist group compared to the mega-terrorist imperialist powers that kill and injure civilians by the hundreds of thousands with their weapons of mass destruction in a matter of a few months in each war of aggression.

This is not the first time that the US and other imperialist powers create and use armed groups that call themselves Islamic fundamentalists or jihadists and then discard them after a while. They collaborated with Osama bin Laden against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After being discarded, bin Laden organized the Al Qaida as a force hostile to the US and carried out the 9-11 operations, which in turn became the pretext for the US to adopt a policy of “perpetual and borderless” global war of terror and unleash a series of aggressive wars.

The ILPS and the people of the world are concerned that the authorities and rightist parties and groups in France and the whole of European Union might use the criminal attacks on the people of Paris to justify wars of aggression as did the US consequent to 9-11, undertake merciless repressive actions and whip up fascism, racism and religious bigotry against Muslims and refugees and against the people in general who assert and exercise their democratic rights. The ILPS calls upon all its member-organizations and allies to thwart the scheme of the imperialist powers to use the terrorism of their former wards as pretext for far larger terrorism.#

Read this statement at Jose Maria Sison’s website.

Aquino’s Top Ten Evil Schemes in Hacienda Luisita

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Special feature by Luisita Watch

UPDATEThey wants it, they needs it. President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and kin continue to hold on to their “precious” Hacienda Luisita, the highly-controversial sugar estate in Tarlac province, Central Luzon which has been in the clutches of the Aquino-Cojuangco landlord clan since the late 1950s.

Like his mother former President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino, BS Aquino also promised social justice and land reform in Hacienda Luisita in his electoral campaign some six years ago. And just like those of his mother’s, BS Aquino’s actions have all proven flagrantly inimical to such promise. There’s enough reason in fact to believe he did everything in his powers to subvert the landmark Supreme Court (SC) ruling for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.

Farmworkers can be fairly blunt about it: Aquino’s purported land reform accomplishments in Hacienda Luisita are all freaking lies propagated by the president’s loyal and well-paid cabal of yellow zombies, trolls, and spin doctors. It is for this reason that land reform and human rights advocates saw the need to form the Luisita Watch network in 2014. Convened by the national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Luisita Watch took on the task of documenting and exposing the real score in Hacienda Luisita as far as the Luisita farmers’ continuing struggle for land and justice is concerned.

And so behind the barrage of official information from Malacanang and concerned government agencies, and being on hand to witness the enduring agrarian saga called Hacienda Luisita, what exactly did Luisita Watch find? Here’s a 10-point “how to hold on to your precious” list, enumerating how Aquino sort of morphed from a presumably harmless Smeagol at the start of his popular presidency into a bloodthirsty Gollum viciously trying to have his way against the “small people,”the farm workers who are fighting to reclaim Hacienda Luisita.

READ MORE HERE

‘Untouchable’ friends of BS Aquino behind Yolanda, Tanim Bala & Luisita mess

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NEWS

NOVEMBER 6, 2015
REFERENCE: GI ESTRADA, Media Officer, 0916.6114181

It pays to be loyal buddies with the President.

BS Aquino’s kababata (townmates) now appear “untouchable” despite being drawn in scandal and criminal negligence surrounding Yolanda relief and rehabilitation, the “Tanim Bala” scam and fake land distribution in his own backyard, Hacienda Luisita, according to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).

Two years after supertyphoon Yolanda ravaged Eastern Visayas, UMA Secretary General Ranmil Echanis scored Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and echoed the statement of Yolanda survivors that “the patronage system of politics rear(s) ugly head even in the most distressing situation.”

Yolanda survivors lament that after two years without adequate assistance to complement their own rebuilding efforts, the Aquino government adds insult to injury with condolences of delayed, divisive, conditional and corruption-riddled assistance.  Members of People Surge described Soliman and Aquino as members of the ‘Gang of 5 despicable figures of ineptness’ which also includes Panfilo Lacson, Jericho Petilla and Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas.

Soliman was born in San Miguel, Tarlac Tarlac City near Hacienda Luisita and  her father, Leonilo Juliano, reportedly served Dinky’s namesake, Corazon Aquino and the rest of the Cojuangco-Aquino landlords as a loyal “kapatas” or lead man who gathered cane cutters to work for Hacienda Luisita.

People Surge enumerated Dinky’s criminal negligence, ineptness and corruption with the following:

  1. ₱580 million worth of rice supplies left to rot at the Subic Free Port
  2. Dinky’s claim of having provided more than five (5) million food packs for a maximum of 10 rounds is still highly inadequate when spread over more than 100 days after Yolanda. Most survivors in fact received food packs only once.
  3. The more than 16,000 individuals alleged to have been accommodated by the “cash-for-work” program is an insignificant minority out of more than one (1) million Yolanda survivors. These beneficiaries in fact worked for only 10 days for ₱250/day instead of the promised ₱500.
  4. The 2,052 families who transferred to bunkhouses in fact only represent 0.17% of homeless survivors.”

Meanwhile, Jose Angel Honrado, also a close Aquino buddy from Hacienda Luisita, remains at the helm of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) despite the firestorm of criticism, and national humiliation and ridicule brought about by the “Tanim Bala” scam.

Several groups, including overseas Filipino workers or OFW organization Migrante and some legislators are already calling for Honrado’s resignation as NAIA general manager but BS Aquino and his spokespersons have brushed aside the clamor and downplayed the situation.

“With his brand of inaction on this shocking extortion scam, Aquino has effectively contributed another solid reason to call the NAIA one of the worst airports in the world.”

Honrado was born in Concepcion, Tarlac, a town also within the bounds of the controversial sugar estate. His father was reportedly the former chief security officer of Hacienda Luisita.

The President is well known for clinging to his kabarilan (shooting buddies), kaklase (classmates) and kaibigan (friends). A few months ago, another kabarilan, Virgie Torres, was embroiled in a sugar smuggling scandal, where she allegedly used Aquino’s name to bring in around 60 shipping containers of sugar from Thailand.

Efforts to cover-up the controversy inadvertently led to Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap’s expose of Torres and Aquino’s unholy leaseback partnership in Hacienda Luisita. The “aryendo” aims to reconcentrate land reform areas back to the control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Torres was quoted to have said “I lease the land and we (Torres and Aquino) grow sugarcane together.”

“Where are the charges against Virgie Torres now?”

“BS Aquino has assembled such a corrupt band of characters within his cabinet, choice agencies and even the top brass of the military and police. Let’s not forgot ex-PNP chief Gen. Purisima of the Mamasapano fiasco, and ex-AFP Chief Gen. Catapang, a ground commander of the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004,” said Echanis.

Farmworkers will commemorate the 11th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16. Justice remains elusive to the victims.

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Ground zero. The people of Eastern Visayas surge into the streets to protest Aquino’s criminal negligence two years after supertyphoon Yolanda hit Tacloban. Photo by People Surge.

Aquino kin milking profits out of disputed lands in Luisita

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Tarlac police and masked goons prepare to violently evict farmers from a 260-hectare agricultural area claimed by the Cojuangco-Aquino firm TADECO in Hacienda Luisita a few days before Christmas in 2013. The area is now fenced off from farmers as The Office of the President, the Department of Energy and the Yuchengco firm Petrogreen begin installation of electric posts for a solar power plant project under public-private partnership (PPP).

NEWS

A coup de grâce is happening in Hacienda Luisita.

With the auditing of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) P1.33 billion debt to farmworker beneficiaries (FWBs) effectively stalled, relatives of President BS Aquino are now milking profits out of disputed lands in Luisita.

According to Ranmil Echanis, secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), this includes part of the 500 hectare property sold by the Cojuangco’s to RCBC and Centennary Holdings which is part of the debt to the FWBs. This also includes 258 hectares of land in barangay Balete that had already been issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) a Notice of Coverage (NOC) on December 17, 2013.

Yet, according to Mr. Echanis, the DAR has allowed the construction of a solar power plant in both disputed properties, owned by the Yuchengcos who are partners of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s in managing the Luisita Industrial Park inside the hacienda. The plant itself would be built inside the RCBC property, while the electrical posts which are already being set-up will be in the 258 hectare area.

The Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita or AMBALA, UMA’s local affiliate in Tarlac, has a pending petition to revoke DAR’s conversion order.

According to Ranmil Echanis, deputy secretary general of UMA:  “The Tarlac solar project will worsen displacement brought about by bogus land distribution implemented by the DAR under this Cojuangco-Aquino landlord president.”

Violent eviction of farmers and bulldozing of crops inside Hacienda Luisita coincided with DAR’s land distribution process from 2013 to 2014. More than a thousand hectares of disputed agricultural areas have been fenced off by Cojuangco-Aquino firms. These areas are supposedly reserved for “development projects.”

“Luisita farmers oppose the solar project because it will set a precedent that may lead to the complete wipe-out of Luisita’s farming community,” Echanis added.

This is despite the opposition made by AMBALA against the project through a petition letter signed by more than 1,000 FWB’s. This including the petition for revocation and even on the status of the NOC lands remain unacted upon by the DAR.

President Aquino has less than a year left in office. He has been very consistent in ensuring that Hacienda Luisita would remain in his kin’s hands.

UMA supports the enactment of House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed by Anakpawis Partylist in Congress. #

Oil palm expansion in PH, opposed by peasants, lumad, church workers

oilpalm

Lumad, peasants, agricultural workers and church people oppose militarization, plunder and expansion of oil palm plantations in the Philippines. Photo by KMP.

REAP PR

NOVEMBER 4, 2015
Reference: GI ESTRADA, 09166114181
MEDIA OFFICER, UMA

The newly-formed Network Resisting Expansion of Agricultural Plantations in Mindanao or REAP Mindanao Network lauded the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) for organizing a People’s Street Conference to expose the ills of oil palm plantations and resist corporate landgrabbing, in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), today.

The ‘conference’ was brought to the streets by KMP and RMP-NMR for the public to directly listen to testimonies from affected sectors such as the lumad, the Moro people, peasants, and agricultural workers from Mindanao, Bohol and Palawan, where oil palm plantations in the country are currently located. The activity is part of the national protest caravan, Manilakbayan ng Mindanao.

“With haze reaching the Philippines and other Asian nations from Indonesia, we are now having a preview of disastrous consequences brought about by oil palm plantations. The DENR and other government agencies must listen to the people from Mindanao and other affected islands who are firmly opposed to the expansion of oil palm in the country,” said Ariel Casilao, REAP Mindanao Network spokesperson.

REAP firmly believes that oil palm will push peasants deeper into poverty.

REAP disapproves of the government’s proposal for the “massive conversion” of so-called “idle lands” for oil palm, and pointed out that the history and the aggressive expansion of these plantations especially during the past few years led instead to massive landgrabbing and dislocation of peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities.

Casilao, a labor leader of Anakpawis Partylist from Mindanao, also said that agricultural workers employed in the country’s oldest palm oil plantations in the Caraga region suffer hazardous working conditions and very low wages. Even after 30 years of hard toil, many remain as casual workers, referring to reports from the Pinagbuklod na Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Plantasyon ng Agusan Plantations, Inc. or PIGLAS-MAPAPI, a local affiliate of the national federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura or UMA.

According to a 2012 study by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), poverty, poor working conditions and the high level of unemployment particularly among women have pushed children to work in various capacities as plantation workers – 24 % of plantation workers in Agusan del Sur are children between 5 to 17 years old.

Extrajudicial killings and other rights violations were reported by the KMP in areas such as Opol, Misamis Oriental where the lumad believe that palm oil firm A. Brown is behind the killing of Gilbert Paborada, local leader of the Higaonon tribe, in 2012.

REAP also claimed that crop conversion and the use of toxic chemicals in oil palm plantations resulted not only in the destruction of traditional food sources in communities, but in the massive loss of agricultural areas devoted to food production.

Mindanao, Bohol and Palawan might also emit its own haze soon if the “one million-hectare” government target is allowed. The haze, according to Indonesian authorities, is due to the clearing of land for expansion of plantations. Burning old and unproductive palm trees is reportedly the cheapest means for companies to immediately revive their oil palm plantations.

After the street conference, the REAP Mindanao Network will bring its photo exhibit, “The Other Face of Plunder in Mindanao” for public viewing at the Manilakbayan camp-out or  Kampuhan at Liwasang Bonifacio.