More time? Redistribution of Luisita is overdue by five years – Anakbayan
Youth group slams Noynoy plea for ‘more time’ on Luisita dispute a ‘lame excuse’
Youth group Anakbayan slammed President Noynoy Aquino’s call for ‘more time’ in resolving the land reform dispute in the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita sugar estate, calling it a ‘lame excuse’ in the aftermath of a violent dispersal of a farmers’ camp in Mendiola last July 3.
Farmers and farmworkers from the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions, including some from Hacienda Luisita, established their camp last June 30 to press Noynoy into prioritizing genuine land reform. Last Saturday, elements of the PNP claimed that they received complaints from several schools in the camp’s vicinity, which was supposed to last for the first 100 days of the new Administration, and dispersed it. 38 were arrested and dozens were hurt. They also dispersed a group of students who picketed the station where the 38 were detained, arresting four more.
“More time? The farmworkers of Luisita should’ve been tilling their own land for five years now” was the angry reaction of Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.
In December 2005, a year after Army troopers opened fire and killed seven striking farmworkers, the Dept. of Agrarian Reform cancelled the SDO (Stock Distribution Option) on Hacienda Luisita, paving the way for the estate’s distribution to its farmworkers. However, the Cojuangco family acquired a Supreme Court TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) in June 2006, preventing the redistribution.
“Like his hyping-up of wang-wangs in his inaugural speech, Noynoy is trying to divert public attention to the really important issues. This time, it’s a shameful act of his Administration in only its third day” he said.
When the farmworkers established their Mendiola camp, they were approached by a staffer of Aquino named Jig Abella. He asked the peasants to leave in exchange for receiving the documents which contained their demands. When the latter refused, Abella said they were not to blame if the police dispersed them.
Dulce also criticized Aquino’s statement, calling them ‘damage control’ in the face of negative public reaction. Many Filipinos vented their anger through their Facebook statuses, or through Twitter.
“Noynoy did not expect a swift and fierce backlash from the public, that’s why he made that statement: as a lame attempt to appease the farmworkers’ supporters, which included many youths” said the youth leader.
“Why not deal with the issue squarely? The farmers can’t plant crops on his motherhood statements” he said, referring to the president.
Anakbayan’s vice-chairperson reiterated their demand for an immediate review of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension, saying it was a measure which was doable in the first 100 days of the new government.