Militants’ Christmas wish to Noynoy: Give up Hacienda Luisita

This is one Christmas wish which militant groups believed won’t happen under the administration of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III– the free distribution ofthe 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita to over 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries.

But just the same staunch allies and supporters of striking farm workers led by Anakpawis party list, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on the start of Misa de Gallo urged President Aquino to give up what they called the Cojuangco-Aquino clan’s illegal and immoral control over the sprawling sugar estate in Tarlac province.

Speaking in behalf of their colleagues, Anakpawis party list secretary general Cherry Clemente and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said President Aquino can make the historic correction of gross injustice to the Luisita farm workers by compelling his family to withdraw their highly questionable stake in the sugar estate and task the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to proceed with the free distribution of the more than 6,000 hectare sugar plantation to farm worker beneficiaries.

“Christmas is just around the corner. This is the opportune time for Aquino and his family to atone for their crimes and sins against the Hacienda people. Let the farm workers freed from the Cojuangco-Aquino fiefdom this Christmas,” said Clemente and Hicap in a joint political statement issued during the Kumperensya ng Anakpawis para sa Lupa, Sahod,  Trabaho at Karapatan held this morning in Manila.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the pending case before the high tribunal where the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management challenged the decision of PARC and DAR to place the sugar estate controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquino family since 1957 under the government’s agrarian reform program and distribute the sugar lands to farm worker beneficiaries.

A few months ago, the HLI proposed a compromise agreement and a referendum in favor of the old set up under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) but were opposed by farm worker groups. The high court also created a mediation committee but the same was highly questioned by groups calling for the distribution of Luisita lands to farm worker beneficiaries.

The People’s Conference for Land, Wages, Jobs and Rights organized by Anakpawis was attended by 500 leaders of workers, farmers, peasant women, agricultural workers, fisherfolk, transport,  urban poor and government employees associations likewise pressed for the following immediate demands for President Aquino to address before Christmas Day.

* Immediate rollback of NFA sold rice from the current P 27 per kilo to the pre- May 2010 elections period or P 18.25 per kilo

*Issue an executive order stopping oil companies from further increasing the price of petroleum products. Since Dec.1, the accumulated average increase in the price of oil products is P 2.50. The government should immediately rollback the price of oil products by at least P 2.50 per liter.

*Direct his allies in the House of Representatives to mark as urgent bills HB 374 or the proposed Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) and HB 375 or the proposed legislated P 125 across the board pay increase among workers in private sector

During the conference, militant groups lambasted President Aquino for not doing anything to stop the oil cartel and other small players from jacking up the prices of their oil products referring the latest round of oil price increase amounting to an average of P 1.25 per liter.

“President Aquino is just watching at the sideline as the Big Three plays their all-time favorite game—the game of the monopoly,” said Anakpawis party list.

The Anakpawis party list said the recent P 1.25 hike per liter in the prices of petroleum products further increased the prices of diesel to P 37.25 per liter, unleaded to P 46.50 per liter and kerosene to P 45.50 per liter. Clemente said prior to the P 1.25 increase in  the price of petroleum products last Monday, oil companies had already hiked the prices of gasoline and kerosene by P 1.50 per liter  and diesel by P 0.75 per liter beginning December 1.

Anakpawis said the oil companies only rolled back the prices of petroleum products this month by 25 centavos, thus the total increase in the average price of petroleum products for this month alone is P 2.50 per liter. D’Jay Lazaro

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