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

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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

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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

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 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