Two Cojuangco-Aquino presidents, two legacies of People Power betrayal


Photographers Alex Nueva Espana, Derek Soriano, Ramon Acasio and Claro Cortes III carry a wounded protester to a nearby Press vehicle which brought the victim to a nearby hospital. Photo by Luis Liwanag

Nearly a year after People Power, Cory Aquino’s betrayal of Filipino farmers and democracy, Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 1987


MANILA, Philippines – On the 30th anniversary of the People Power or the February 25, 1986 ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, the Anakpawis Party-list said that the two Cojuangco-Aquino presidents, Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino and his son the incumbent president, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, are among those to be blamed for the continuing betrayal of the spirit of “democracy” and “freedom” from authoritarian rule.

“The two Cojuangco-Aquino presidents, ruling the country for almost 12 years, and the intervening regimes of three other presidents, have in fact continued the Marcosian legacy of condemning majority of Filipinos, namely, the farmers and workers to live in unthinkable poverty and misery,” Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said who joined the protest at EDSA led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

Assault on rights to land, wages
Anakpawis said that the administration of the late president Cory Aquino authorized “Mendiola Massacre” on January 22, 1987 that resulted the killing of 13 farmers.  There were about 30,000 farmers and protesters who marched towards Mendiola Bridge in Manila but were met by an armed-to-the teeth contingent of government forces who opened fire at the mob.  The rally was led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who was demanding what Aquino has promised, agrarian reform. On January 16, 1986, Cory Aquino promised that “land-to-the-tiller must become a reality instead of an empty slogan.

“Agrarian reform is clearly a democratic agenda as majority among Filipinos are farmers, and it only took a year for Cory Aquino to totally demolish that hope, the farmers to own the land they till,” Hicap said.

To try to make it appear that she was true to her promise, she pushed for the enactment of Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which became a law on June 10, 1988. On the said law’s expiration on June 30, 2014 or 26 years and two extension later, CARP did not however come even near the fulfilment of her “land-to-the-tiller” campaign pledge.

“The whole world knows that farm workers in Hacienda Luisita were massacred and the Cojuangco-Aquino family still keeps control over vast lands at present,” Hicap said.

Anakpawis said that the Cory Aquino administration enacted laws that are detrimental to both Filipino farmers and workers and that played a crucial role in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. A day before CARP was enacted, the Aquino regime enacted Republic Act No. 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, while months before on March 2, 1989, the Republic Act No. 6715 or “Herrera Law.”  Anakpawis said that the Herrera Law introduced the “assumption of jurisdiction” power of the labor secretary, and its power to promote the hiring of contractuals and other non-regular workers.  Assumption of jurisdiction is usually invoked by the labor secretary to break up the legitimate strikes launched by workers in the country such as it was used prior to the November 16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre violent dispersal.

“Cory Aquino’s presidency betrayed the Filipino workers by breaking up the wage levels among regions and promotion of contractualization, which both landmark laws attacked the legitimate rights of workers for wages and form unions,” Hicap said.

On the part of the young Aquino, Anakpawis was aware even before his presidency that agrarian reform was ill-fated.  On February 9, 2010, during his campaign, he vowed distribution of Hacienda Luisita by 2014 with his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announcing “it’s not just a campaign promise, it’s a matter of principle.”  At present nearing the end of his term, though the Supreme Court ruled for the revocation of the stock distribution option (sdo) plan and ordered the distribution of the lands to the Hacienda Luisita farmers, they continue to fight off land grabbing by Tarlac Dev’t Corp. (Tadeco) owned by the Cojuangco family, harassment and displacement.

“The Cojuangcos conned the Hacienda Luisita farmers twice, during Cory’s time and at present,” Hicap said.

With CARP’s expiration on June 30, 2014, the Aquino administration has left the agrarian reform agenda in limbo, with no existing laws for land acquisition and distribution.  Anakpawis is pushing for House Bill No. 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that promotes free distribution of lands to farmers.

Aquino has also ignored the legitimate demand of Filipino workers for P125 wage hike, across the regional boards and nationwide, encoined by House Bill No. 253 filed by Anakpawis’ Hicap and Makabayan bloc lawmakers.  Instead, he implemented the Department Order 18-A, that aggravated contractualization in November 2011 and the two-tiered wage system in October 2012.
Aside from major policies, Aquino’s flagship Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program has instigated systematic and wholesale land grabbing and displacement of farmers, retrenchment of workers, as well as demolitions of urban poor communities.

Same fascist rule with Martial Law
The two presidents are also guilty of reigning authoritarian rule.  Cory Aquino has unsheathed her “Total War” Policy under Operational Plan (Oplan) Lambat Bitag (Net trap), while the young Aquino has his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.  Anakpawis said that the two Aquino family members had zero-ounce of libertarian tendencies of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.

During Marcos’ 14 years of dictatorial rule, it resulted the arbitrary arrest and detention of around 120,000 people; extra-judicial killings of 1,500 activists; and the enforced disappearance of 769 individuals, according to the alternative media site Bulatlat.

Under the regime of Corazon Aquino, 1,064 were victimized of extra-judicial killings, 816 of forced disappearances, 1.2 million of forced evacuation due to militarization, 20,523 of illegal arrests and detention, and 135 cases of massacres, also according to Bulatlat.  The matron Aquino’s regime is known of the formation of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and other para-military units that wreaked havoc in the countryside.

Under the present administration, as of September 2015, 294 has been victims of extra-judicial killings, 28 of enforced disappearances, 318 of frustrated killing, 3,237 of illegal arrests, 63,824 of forced evacuation, 161,552 of harassment, intimidation and threat, 29,257 of coercion of civilians to be guide to military operations, 182,389 of military occupation of civilian establishments and others, according to human rights group Karapatan.

“The Cojuangco-Aquinos, who are great pretenders of being icons of democracy is of the same caliber as Marcos in terms of ruling with state terrorism,” Hicap said.

Anakpawis also assailed the Aquino regime for the latest assault on Lumad evacuees in Mindanao, the arson of the evacuation camp inside the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound.

“People” Power
Anakpawis urged various sectors to live by the true meaning of the People Power uprising by dispelling the notion that it was about the “clash of clans” of Marcos and Aquino, but instead Marcos against the Filipino people.

“We should learn by now, after three decades that neither  Cory Aquino, nor Ninoy Aquino was the main determining factor of People Power; it was the will of the Filipino people to overthrow Marcos’ dictatorship,” Hicap said.

Hicap reminded that anti-people rule of post-People Power administrations that never realized fundamental reforms such as genuine agrarian reform, nationalist industrialization, wage hike, respect for human rights and more, is suggestive that choosing national leaders should not be among the ruling cliques or camps, but of leaders who were actually with the people’s struggle.

“We are here commemorating People Power and amused by the show of newly acquired air force arsenals, but we are positive that it would not even get into action against a foreign power, but would be used against Filipinos, such as what took place during Cory’s time in Marag valley,” Hicap said.

In 1990, almost all of the air power of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were used against the people in Marag Valley, Luna town in Apayao. Philippine Air Force’ ancient T-28 dive bombers, F5 jet fighters, huey helicopters, artillery and other ordnance were used against communities suspected of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA).  It resulted the displacement of at least 3,000 Isneg and Aggay indigenous people, destruction of hundreds of houses, 19 rice granaries and 154 metric tons of rice.  Marag Valley was a site for the “No man’s land” and “Scorched earth” strategy of the AFP.  — ANAKPAWIS PARTYLIST ###


Agriworkers hold successful national congress in Mindanao


Anakpawis Partylist for Congress, Neri Colmenares for Senator, endorsed

Agricultural workers from different plantations and haciendas all over the country converged in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon for Third National Congress of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). More than 200 delegates from 9 member-unions, associations and federations and more than 20 organizations attended the activity at the Kaamulan Auditorium, near Bukidnon’s Provincial Capitol Grounds.

UMA, which was founded by farmworkers immediately after the Hacienda Luisita massacre has been in the forefront of the struggle of farmworkers in Luisita and other sugarcane haciendas in Batangas, Negros, and Bukidnon. The current UMA Congress vowed to boldly expand its membership to confront pressing issues affecting agricultural workers especially in vast plantations of export crops such as Cavendish bananas, pineapple, oil palm, rubber and other giant agribusinesses mostly owned and controlled by foreign and multinational corporations. These plantations are largely based in Mindanao.

The UMA assembly commenced February 20 and will end today with a solidarity night. Guests from prominent leaders of militant organizations include Ka Elmer “Bong” Labog, national chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Antonio “Ka Tonying”Flores, secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid of the Philippines (KMP).

Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, UMA secretary general, described the theme of the Congress and exhorted the delegates and guests of UMA to continue with their struggle against neoliberal attacks against the workers, peasants, and the Filipino people.

The incumbent and “future” representatives of progressive partylist, Anakpawis, 1st nominee Ariel “Ayik” Casilao, and Representative Fernando “Ka Pando”Hicap, were also present to challenge the agricultural workers to forward the agenda of the toiling masses this year’s presidential elections. Ayik of Anakpawis meanwhile emphasized that he will continue the brand of the Anakpawis as a party list of the toiling masses to uphold their rights inside and outside of the halls of Congress, or in the “parliament of the streets.”

Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares sent a video message to the agriworkers, and mentioned that the struggle for the P2,000 pension increase is not yet over. Colmenares emphasized that the country needs genuine land reform and national industrialization for genuine development.

Ramos said that “It would be an illusion for the common people including for agricultural workers to pin their hopes on any of the traditional politicians. Colmenares is the only senatoriable that will truly fight for agricultural workers’ rights.” Delegates from the Negros Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) said that Colmenares spent significant time as an activist and organizer working among sugar workers in his native Negros Occidental. The UMA Congress passed a resolution endorsing Anakpawis Partylist for Congress, and Neri Colmenares of Makabayan for Senator.

From its original member organizations in sugar plantations, UMA has now expanded to include agricultural workers’ associations in oil palm, banana, bioethanol plantations in Cagayan Valley, Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao, Compostela Valley and Davao City in the Northern Mindanao Region. “UMA is now in a better position to advance agricultural workers rights for genuine land reform, wages, benefits, and job security. UMA is steeled from its experience in Hacienda Luisita and in fighting no less that the cacique holding the highest office in the land, BS Aquino,” said Ramos.

UMA is poised to launch more mass campaigns for the interests of farmworkers who are among the poorest of the rural poor, enduring slave-like wages in harsh and hazardous labor conditions. The Congress will end with a solidarity night with the lumad of Bukidnon, who have evacuated due to continuing militarization, and are currently holding a camp-out at the Provincial Grounds.

Anakpawis to candidates: Campaign for the people, not for self-interest

February 9, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – On the first day of the campaign period for the May 2016 national elections, the militant Anakpawis Party-list urged national and local candidates to campaign not just for their respective candidacy but for people’s issues, particularly of marginalized sectors, the workers, farmers, urban poor and other rural-based section of the population.  A contingent of the group protested in front of the Social Security System (SSS) main office in East Avenue, Quezon City to continue their demand of the P2,000 pension hike and override of the veto issued by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.

“Our campaign is not simply to urge people to vote for us, but on urging people to fight for their rights.  We always take advantage of this season to advance the welfare of the poor as politicians are always open to hear people’s grievances on their aim of gaining votes for themselves.  At present, we are intensifying the campaign for SSS pension hike,” Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said during the protest.

Anakpawis challenged presidential candidates to adopt the agenda of marginalized sectors on their platform, namely (1) genuine land reform, free distribution of lands, agricultural development and nationalist industrialization, (2) increase in wages and banning of contractualization, (3) habitable mass housing and moratorium of demolitions of urban poor communities, (4) uphold the rights of fisherfolk against conversion and privatization of fishing areas, (5) advancement of free education and scientific culture, (6) advancement of the rights of women, (7) counter price hikes of food, oil products, electricity, water and other goods and services, by opposing privatization, deregulation and liberalization, (8) defense of national sovereignty and patrimony such as abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), Mining Act of 1995 and other laws favoring foreign countries.

“We dare the presidentiables, as well as senatoriables to pledge to immediately approve and work for the realization of wage hikes, a stop to conversion of agricultural lands and demolition of urban poor communities,” Hicap said.

Moreover, Anakpawis urged various sectors to step up their campaign to protect and advance their rights to land, jobs, livelihood and homes.  The group advised workers to campaign for their rights to wage increases, form unions and strike, farmers to set up protest camps against grabbing of lands or organized take back the lands taken away from them and urban poor to set up barricades against demolition operations.

“We call on poor sectors who are facing threats to their rights to seize the opportunity by stepping up their campaigns and gather support from local candidates.  Their rights should be advanced as the post-elections would be a different story,” Hicap said.

The Anakpawis Party-list renewed their call to finally end “Daang Matuwid” this May by not voting for Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas.  In addition, the group cautioned voters to stand guard against election fraud.

“We must hold Aquino accountable for his crimes against the people, his rule has driven the majority of the people into landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, death and other miseries.  To defeat Roxas, is to succeed in foiling Aquino’s illusion of getting immunity from suit,” Hicap concluded.

#15yearsofBulatlat | Reporting on Luisita, ‘boldest, most comprehensive and consistent’


Mensahe ng pakikiisa sa ika-15 anibersaryo ng mula sa Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

Mainit at militanteng pagbati ang ipinapaabot ng Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) sa ika-15 anibersaryo ng ngayong ika-7 ng Pebrero, 2016.

Isa ang sa maituturing na mga haligi ng alternatibong midya na mabilis na nakapag-uulat hinggil sa iba’t ibang isyu ng masang anakpawis at sambayanang Pilipino. Ang mga artikulo na inilabas ng online, o sa pamamagitan ng bagong midyum ng internet at social media ay naging epektibo sa pagbibigay-impormasyon sa publiko at sa matalas na pagsusuri sa mga isyu sa likod ng balita. Madalas sa hindi, ang mga ulat at paglilinaw na ito ay walang puwang sa telebisyon, radyo at pahayagan na kontrolado ng dominante at tradisyunal na midya. Hindi rin matatawaran ang makabuluhang papel ng sa buhay na dokumentasyon ng kilusang masa sa nakaraang 15 taon.

Mahusay na ginagampanan ng mga mamamahayag ng ang layunin nito sa pagsalamin sa adhikain at tindig ng mamamayan at pagbabalita sa mga isyu na nakaaapekto sa kanilang buhay at hinaharap — karapatang pantao at kalayaang sibil, usaping pangkalikasan, pambansang patrimonya, at ang kalagayan at kapakanan ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka, migranteng Pilipino, propesyunal, kababaihan, kabataan, katutubo, maralitang lungsod at iba pang mardyinalisadong sektor sa lipunan.

Ang seksyon ng special report ng hinggil sa Hacienda Luisita, halimbawa, ay ang pinakamapangahas, komprehensibo, at tuluy-tuloy o konsistent na pag-uulat sa pakikibaka ng mga manggagawang-bukid bago pa man pumutok ang welga at ang malagim na masaker sa asyenda noong 2004, at hanggang sa gitgitang labanan at tagumpay sa Korte Suprema na rumurok noong 2011-2012. Sa pag-igting ng panloloko, pandarahas at pangangamkam ng hacienderong rehimen ni BS Aquino mula 2013, naging aktibo naman ang sa paglalabas ng mga ulat ng AMBALA-UMA at Luisita Watch, nang hindi kinakaligtaan ang responsableng pangangalap ng primaryang impormasyon at kumpirmasyon mula mismo sa erya, sa mga biktima o apektadong manggagawang-bukid, mga saksi at mga awtoridad. Ang masugid na pagsubaybay, masinop na pagkalap ng mga datos, at napapanahong pagbabalita ng sa tampok na isyung ito ng mga magbubukid at mangagawang agrikultural mula noon hanggang ngayon ay walang duda na siyang pinakamahusay at masasabing “second to none.”

Ang dustang kalagayan, panunupil at karahasan laban sa mga manggagawang agrikultural sa iba’t ibang plantasyon at asyenda ay kabilang sa mga paksa na hindi naibabalita o hindi nabibigyang-pansin, sa kabila ng kanilang magiting na pakikibaka para sa sahod, benepisyo, kaseguruhan sa trabaho, at tunay na reporma sa lupa. Ang mga ulat ng hinggil sa mga tampok na pangyayari sa mga manggagawang agrikultural sa Negros, Mindanao at iba pang panig ng bansa ay kabilang din sa mga pyesa ng na nagsisilbing inspirasyon at hamon sa sinumang mamamahayag na seryoso sa piniling propesyon. Napatunayan na ng ang pagiging huwaran sa maagap at matalas na alternatibong pagbabalita.

Ikinararangal ng UMA na maging bahagi ng maningning na kasaysayan at hinaharap ng Nagtitiwala kami na magpapatuloy ang inobasyon nito upang higit na maging epektibo sa pag-abot sa mas marami pang mambabasa at awdyens sa loob at labas ng bansa. Nakikiisa ang militanteng hanay ng mga manggagawang-bukid sa mga adhika nito na malaking ambag sa kilusan ng sambayanan para sa panlipunang pagbabago, pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.

Mabuhay ang!
Mabuhay ang alternatibong midya!
Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!