Agriworkers condemn attack on Negros rights mission

 hustisya elisa

Agriworkers led by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) vehemently condemn the gun attack on human rights activists conducting a fact-finding mission in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, yesterday afternoon (November 28).

The shooting incident resulted in the death of two members of the mission, Elisa Badayos, 59, and her companion, tricycle driver Eleoterio Moises. A youth activist was also reportedly injured.

UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande said that “The killing of human rights activists underscores the prevailing reign of terror in Negros Oriental. Duterte’s threats to go after legal activists have emboldened those behind the brutal killings in Negros and all other areas in the country plagued by impunity.”

According to Danilo Tabura of NFSW-Negros, activists and ordinary farmers like Badayos and Moises are common targets of Duterte’s crackdown.

Badayos, coordinator of Karapatan Negros Oriental, was no stranger to state fascism. Her husband, labor leader Jimmy Badayos was forcibly disappeared by the military in 1990. Their daughter Jimmylisa was also a victim of unlawful arrest and trumped-up charges in 2012. Elisa herself was slapped with several fabricated criminal charges in 2015.

Meanwhile, Moises was a barangay tanod and member of local peasant organization Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association. The other injured victim was identified to be a member of Kabataan Partylist in Cebu City.

“Duterte’s threats translating into actual atrocities like this send a chilling effect to the public. The fascist regime wants victims and survivors to succumb to fear now that even human rights defenders have become targets of attacks. It does not tolerate the investigation of rights violations by state security forces not only in Negros but in other critical areas,” said Lozande, who likened the incident to Marcosian Martial Law tactics and Palparan-style terror during the Arroyo regime.

The mission, composed of 30 activists from Central Visayas, aimed to document the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJK), threats and harassment in Bayawan City and Santa Catalina. It was reported that the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed additional combat troops in the province.

Negros Oriental was earlier in the news due to the spate of political killings in Guihulngan City, where human rights groups documented eight victims of EJK since July 2017.

“Following Duterte’s murderous rhetoric, state forces target unnarmed civilians and legal activists whom they believe are supporters of the New People’s Army. After the police suffered heavy casualties and humilitation for the July 21 ambush of the NPA in Guihulngan, state forces are disposed to retaliate and harass ordinary farmers and civilians,” said Lozande.

“Duterte and his mercenary police and military attack dogs are terribly mistaken if they think that the peasant movement will simply bow down to terror after this terrible incident. We have no choice but to continue to fight for justice. All human rights defenders and freedom-loving people here and abroad should condemn this latest atrocity of the US-Duterte fascist regime,” said Tabura.

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Hacienda Luisita Farmers Continue to Assert Right to Cultivate DAR Revoked Areas

Hundreds of farmers in Hacienda Luisita continue to assert their right to cultivate lands still under the control of the Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo firm Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) since November 15, 2017.

The area is located between brgys. Balete and Cutcut and comprises 200 hectares.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had already revoked the land use conversion order covering the 500-hectare LLC and RCBC areas in Hacienda Luisita on February 23, 2017, through then DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng Mariano.

According to Renato Mendoza, Secretary General of Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), they have all the right to cultivate said lands because of this revocation order which LLC and even Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) refuse to honor.

That is why AMBALA filed a symbolic notice of eviction against RCBC on April 24 and November 15, 2017 by destroying its walls to fence off the farmers from legally owning and tilling the lands.

The latter incident resulted in the illegal arrest of AMBALA chairperson Florida “Ka Pong” Sibayan after she was suddenly snatched and dragged by civilians and police alike. This agitated AMBALA members to fight against this act of violence by whatever means they had at their disposal.

In a related development, the DAR stated during the National Stakeholders Forum on Land Use Conversion from Nov 16 to 17, 2017 in Quezon City, that it has to observe due process in dealing with the revoked order which it said does not take much time.

DAR added that it takes only 180 days for an application for land use conversion to be granted but 268 days had already lapsed since the revocation order was issued.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), on the other hand which accredited the 500 hectare property as an Economic Zone, lists Central Techno Park, where it is located as operational even if only a solar power plant was built there on 50 hectares of property in 2015. It is also silent on the revocation order of DAR.

It only shows that the Duterte regime, which vowed to get rid of oligarchs like the Cojuangcos and Aquinos and classifies them as its arch enemies, still refuses to make a stand on this issue, including the Hacienda Luisita massacre.

It is up to the farmers and agricultural workers in Hacienda Luisita to ensure that they get justice from the massacre and other atrocities inflicted on them up to the present. At the present. At the same time get back the lands that are theirs in the first place.

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No Justice Expected from Duterte on Hacienda Luisita Massacre

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today predicted that the Duterte government would never provide justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. Even if supposedly, it blames the yellows such as former President BS Aquino as its arch enemies.

In fact, it is preparing for the reversal of the decisions made by former DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano with regards to the land disputes there and in other parts of the country.

In the very day of the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, and on the following day, the new leadership of DAR with Duterte’s blessings would conduct a forum to make it easier for landlords to evade agrarian reform through land use conversions.

Said aims is the opposite of what the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which includes President Duterte, agreed to in September 2016 for a two-year moratorium for conversion of agricultural lands.

The President, however, never signed an Executive Order (EO), for it to be binding. He then agreed for the rejection of Ka Paeng as DAR secretary.

In essence the aims of the new DAR forum threaten Ka Paeng’s revocation order.  This involves 384.12 hectares of land in the RCBC compound that was never converted to non-agricultural use for a period of more than 5 years when the previous DAR agreed to its conversion into industrial and commercial use.  Ka Paeng then revoked Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) conversion order.

HLI used to own the 500 hectares of land which includes those that were revoked.  Said company then sold these to RCBC, Luisita Realty Corp. (now Luisita Land Corp.) and to Luisita Industrial Park Corp. (LIPCO), for P4 billion, and owes the farmworkers P1.33 billion as their share as previous stockholders.

It also threatens to reverse Ka Paeng’s junking of the appeal of Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) to exempt 358 has. of lands from land reform as the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who own said company applied for its conversion into industrial use.

Other than these two properties, an additional 600 plus hectares of agricultural land still held by various companies of the Cojuangco-Aquinos including that of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), with the Lorenzos as new co-owners, would be easily converted into other use.

There can be no justice for the massacre of agricultural workers when the President is pro-landlord like the people he supposedly detests, the Cojuangcos and Aquinos.

AMBALA Issues Eviction Notice on RCBC Compound in Hacienda Luisita

Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) today issued an eviction notice on the 500 hectare RCBC compound in Hacienda Luisita.

According to John Milton “Butch” Lozande, secretary general of UMA, said eviction order was made as the new Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is preparing the grounds for the reversal of the revocation order issued by former DAR Sec. Rafael “Ka Paeng”Mariano on February 23, 2017. AMBALA is a member of UMA.

The new DAR leadership will conduct a two day National Stakeholders Forum on Land Use Conversion on Nov. 16 – 17 in Microtel, UP Technohub.

This forum aims to “harmonize and hasten the processes, procedures, guidelines, documentary requirements, and timelines of different agencies, with respect to the issuances of clearances which are required by DAR to properly treat an application for land use conversion or exemption from agrarian reform coverage.

In essence this threatens Ka Paeng’s revocation order.  This involves 384.12 hectares of land in the RCBC compound that was never converted to non-agricultural use for a period of more than 5 years when the previous DAR agreed to its conversion into industrial and commercial use.  Ka Paeng then revoked Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) conversion order.

HLI used to own the 500 hectares of land which includes those that were revoked.  Said company then sold these to RCBC, Luisita Realty Corp. (now Luisita Land Corp.) and to Luisita Industrial Park Corp. (LIPCO), for P4 billion, and owes the farmworkers P1.33 billion as their share as previous stockholders.

It also threatens to reverse Ka Paeng’s junking of the appeal of Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) to exempt 358 has. of lands from land reform as the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who own said company applied for its conversion into industrial use.

Other than these two properties, an additional 600 plus hectares of agricultural land still held by various companies of the Cojuangco-Aquinos including that of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), with the Lorenzos as new co-owners, would be easily converted into other use.

Said aims is the opposite of what the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which includes President Duterte, agreed to in September 2016 for a two-year moratorium for conversion of agricultural lands. The President, however, never signed an Executive Order (EO), for it to be binding.

This also shows President Duterte’s true colors. He was never against the oligarchs, which includes the Cojuangcos, Aquinos, and Lorenzos who own Hacienda Luisita. He is just full of bluster and nothing more.