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.