RCBC slaps grave coercion charges vs 7 women hacienda workers

SEVEN women farm workers are facing charges of grave corecion for allegedly  blocking the fencing conducted by a commercial bank’s hired goons last June 15  of the 184 hectares of the 6,000 hectares Hacienda Luisita  located in Brgy. Balete.

Farmers groups slammed Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) for its non-stop filing of trumped up charges against leaders and members of Alyansa ng Manggagawang bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala, Farmworkers’ Alliance in Hacienda Luisita) Ambala.

“We strongly condemn this criminalization cases pressed by RCBC to women farmworkers. It seems  that filing of trumped up of charges has become their ‘habit’ to harass and threaten the struggling farmworkers”, Rodel Mesa, Ambala chair, said.

“The June 15 incident had caused physical and mental abuse to three women and a minor. It is very traumatic to these women farmworkers that RCBC goons and security guards have violated their rights as a woman and as a farmworker.  It is very unjust that those hurt were the ones being charged with criminal cases,” Mesa said.

AMGL and Ambala said that since August 2011, RCBC had filed cases such as occupation of real property, malicious mischief, grave coercion and other cases to farmworkers. Also, there were series of demolitions, harassment and other rights abuses caused by RCBC goons and security guards.
“We are not surprised that RCBC is so powerful to undermine the farmworkers. We firmly believe that RCBC and the Cojuangco-Aquinos have connived with each other to repress farmworkers’ rights to land” added by Mesa.

AMGL and Ambala said the recent grave coercion case was filed against Florida Sibayan, Lydia Bato, Rowena Flores, Roda Flores, Edna Dizon, Elsie Ricardo , Lita Gonzales and others .

“Ambala’s position is very simple and justified, RCBC’s fencing operation is illegal as they could not present any court order.  The disputed land is subject to a pending petition for revocation of conversion order in the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.

The group blamed the DAR for their slow action on the petition, thus, resulting to RCBC’s aggressive measure to take away the land from the farmworkers.  The petition was filed January 5 this year.

“Looks like that the DAR is not interested to act on the Ambala petition while it is very much legal and provisioned in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program that conversion orders of those lands not developed should be revoked,” Canlas said.

He believed that DAR is now acting on the marching orders of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.

“Imagine there is already a list, even being discussed at the Supreme Court, but DAR is trying to sabotage the high court’s decision by creating a new one. DAR’s action would definitely cause anarchy as they are sowing false hopes to the farmworkers,” Canlas said.

“Disunity among farmworkers is the very objective of the president’s family, the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” he added.

“RCBC and the Cojuangco-Aquinos are very much aware that the farmworkers under Ambala would not give up their claim. We know that they will exhaust all their resources to retain their control over the vast land of Hacienda Luisita’’ Canlas said.

“As Aquino’s SONA is nearing, we challenge DAR to immediately act on the petition and  Aquino to abandon his interest on Hacienda Luisita to avoid further abuses against the farmworkers,” he added.

Amgl said that this is the very issue that killed Dutch NGO chief Willem Geertman was supporting.

“Willem is very updated with the issue of Hacienda Luisita.  After his murder, it is apparent that the Aquino regime plans to do nothing but promote the continuing and systematic attack on oppressed sectors.  We call on other sectors’ support to prevent another victim of rights abuses or extra-judicial killings,” Canlas said.

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