MANILA – The Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) today alerted global activists to stop the big landlord Cojuangco-Aquino clan from another bloody clash with farmers at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, north of Manila.
The alert was raised after two police van full of armed troops arrived this morning at the village of Balete in Tarlac to secure TADECO, a corporation owned by the family of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
“While incoming President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Rafael Mariano, president of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines), as his nominee to head the Department of Agrarian Reform, the landlords are already fortifying their land grabs with armed state troops,” ILPS-Phils Chair Elmer Labog said.
According to the farm workers union, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the TADECO of Aquino grabbed the Hacienda Luisita lands in 2013 by forcible enclosure and eviction of farmers. Food crops planted almost a decade following the massacre of striking farm workers in 2004 were destroyed.
In a dialogue yesterday between farmers and TADECO representative Villamor Lagunero Jr., farmers were allowed to plant again. The agreement however was breached by the corporation.
Last Monday, May 30, UMA reported that agents of the Cojuangco-Aquino family attempted to demolish a farmers’ house in Barangay Mapalacsiao, inside Hacienda Luisita.
The house of victim, Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan, was reportedly destroyed by a “demolition team” sent by barangay captain Edison Diaz of nearby village Lourdes (formerly Texas), even without showing any court order.
Farmworkers were able to identify some members of the team such as Ronnie Reyes, a certain Junior Baul, and Andong Basa, known employees of AGRICULTO, a sugarcane planters organization connected to the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Farmworkers from the alliance AMBALA were able to stop the men before they completely destroyed Catalan’s home.
For his part, agrarian reform nominee Rafael Mariano vowed “to ensure that no farmers will be displaced from their farmland by strengthening their security of tenure over the land.”
“We will immediately review the sham ‘tambiolo’ land reform implemented by the DAR in Hacienda Luisita. This review will also include the pending petition by farmers for the revocation of the land-use conversion issued by the DAR in favor of the Cojuangcos of Hacienda Luisita,” Mariano said.
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