FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 22, 2016
Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA Media Officer, 09166114181
The national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the ongoing destruction of crops, farmhuts and homes of supposed agrarian reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.
As of this writing, more than 20 hectares planted mostly to monggo (mung bean) and other food crops in several collective farms or bungkalan areas of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) in Barangay Mapalacsiao have been destroyed by 8 tractors manned by goons reportedly hired by known Cojuangco-Aquino aides Buena Timbol and Arsing Valentino. AMBALA is UMA’s local affliate in Tarlac.
“This is not the first time that such atrocities were commited against Luisita farmers under Aquino,” said Danilo Ramos, UMA Secretary General, noting that the atrocities were timed during the Lenten season.
“These actions are most unholy and should be condemned by all,” he added.
Even farmhuts and the home of farmer Charlito Catalan were reportedly destroyed through orders of Timbol and Valentino who are also known “aryendadors” or brokers of the illicit leaseback system. The two are also known administrators of Cojuangco-Aquino firms Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the Tarlac Development Corpoiration (TADECO).
Despite – or due to his close links to the landlords, Valentino is also appointed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as president of a local Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization or ARBO, tagged by farmworkers as a conduit for corruption and bogus land reform projects.
The destruction of crops and property which commenced even without a court order, were reportedly assisted by barangay captains Edison Diaz of Lourded (Texas) and Rael Gatus of Mapalacsiao and around 20 personnel from the Tarlac-Philippine National Police (PNP) and army soldiers in civilian clothes.
AMBALA leaders are currently filing blotters and formal complaints against the identified perpetrators at the DAR provincial office and other authorities in Tarlac City.
It must be recalled however that on June 25, 2014, the DAR itself through its Provincial Agrarian Reform Office led by Atty. Jose Eduardo Narcisco, with assistance from fully-armed policemen led by SPO3 Dela Cruz of the Tarlac City PNP assigned at the Mapalacsiao precinct and Bgry. Capt Diaz, led the destruction of food crops and fruit trees in the same area in Hacienda Luisita.
The DAR is also instrumental in the illegal arrest, smear campaign and filing of trumped-up charges against Hacienda Luisita farmers who were slapped with violation of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law – for cultivating the land promised by agrarian reform.
In 2014, complaints were filed at the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the said perpetrators and other members of President BS Aquino’s family who are involved in such atrocities against the farmers, but up to now, no action has been taken by authorities.
UMA dared all presidentiables especially President BS Aquino’s anointed, Mar Roxas to speak out against these atrocities. “Criminal complaints are waiting for President BS Aquino once he is out of power,” said Ramos.
Ramos added that atrocities like this happen because Aquino implemented fake land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.
“The public must be made aware that it has been four years since the historic Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita. This kind of violence against our farmers and barefaced destruction of food crops is the Daang Matuwid that hacienderos like Mar Roxas wish to continue,” he ended.
Photos in slideshow by Southern Tagalog Exposure: