Anakbayan greets ‘Dulaang Hacienda Luisita’ with boos, jeers
Youth group Anakbayan today dismissed a purported compromise deal between the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and alleged farm workers of the estate, calling it a ‘poorly-made dula-dulaan’.
“The so-called compromise deal is nothing but a theatrical act, and a bad one at that. It is bad, in the sense that it is poorly-made and an obvious fabrication. It is also bad in the sense that it violates the rights of the farmworkers of the hacienda” said Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce.
Last Friday, HLI management claimed to have reached a settlement between the striking farm workers. In a highly-publicized event, management representatives as well as those purporting to represent three alleged farmworkers’ unions in the hacienda. The youth group however has questioned the credibility of the three ‘unions’.
“Many of our members have been sympathizing with the farm workers of HLI and closely following the developments in their campaign since 2004. That’s why it was a surprise to all of us to hear that there were other unions in Luisita aside from ULWU and AMBALA” said Dulce.
It was the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) which led thousands of farm workers and residents of the Hacienda in the 2004 strike which led to a massacre when Army troops opened fire on the picket line, killing seven.
Anakbayan, a comprehensive progressive youth organization, counts many young peasants among its members in chapters outside of Metro Manila. It also conducts exposure visits to urban and rural poor areas for its members who are still students.
“Perhaps these ‘mushrooms’ are the newest crop of the Cojuangcos” quipped the youth leader, in reference to the sudden ‘appearance’ of the other unions.
He added that “In all our exposure visits to Luisita, we’ve never heard of the people who claimed to sign the compromise in behalf of ULWU and AMBALA. They’re also mushrooms”.
“If this was the case, then even someone like me, an ordinary student who resides in Metro Manila, can claim to be a representative of the Luisita farm workers”.
On a more serious note, Dulce noted that this was not the first time that the management of the Hacienda used ‘stooges’ to create confusion among members of the public who are closely following Hacienda Luisita issue.
He cited a report by the legal counsel of the ULWU and AMBALA who discovered that HLI management submitted a list of purported farm workers who wanted to continue the much-reviled SDO (Stock Distribution Option) last July. Upon verification however, all of the people in the list were found out to be either dead or non-residents of Luisita.
Under the SDO, Luisita farm workers were denied being given the land they worked on, in exchange for virtually value-less shares of stocks in HLI and a daily wage of P9.50.
In the so-called compromise deal, HLI management offered only a fourth of the entire estate, or around 1,400 hectares. According to the HLI management, this was because the farm workers of Luisita only owned around a third of the HLI stocks.
“This is akin to the Cojuangco-Aquino clan spitting on the face of the Luisita farm workers. When the hacienda was purchased back in 1952 using a Central Bank loan, the stipulation was that the estate should be fully distributed to the workers before 1970. Ilang dekada na ba ang nakaraan? This is already a case of ‘justice delayed, justice denied’. Now these pigs want to make it a case of permanent denial of justice” said Dulce.
He asserted that Anakbayan fully supports the position of ULWU and AMBALA that the entire estate must be given to the farm workers freely and without delay. ###