Solon urges farmers to continue ‘occupation of Luisita lands’

ANAKPAWIS Rep. Rafael Mariano today joined thousands of farmers and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita in commemorating the 8th year of the gruesome Hacienda Luisita Massacre that killed 7 people on November 16, 2004 infront of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) sugar mill owned by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

“We remember and demand justice for Luisita martyrs Juancho Sanchez, Jhayvie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Jhune David, Jaime Fastidio, Jessie Valdez and Adrian Caballero. They lived and died for the farmers’ struggle for genuine land reform in Luisita and in the country.”

“It’s been 8 long years but justice remains elusive to the victims and survivors of Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Worse, the President’s relatives – the Cojuangco-Aquinos are doing everything in their power and influence to delay and block the distribution of Luisita lands to its rightful owners,” said Mariano.

Mariano added, “for more than half a century, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan have enriched themselves through exploiting Luisita farmers and farmworkers. The most appropriate justice for the victims of Hacienda Luisita Massacre is the immediate and free distribution of Luisita to legitimate tillers and beneficiaries.”

“President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s rise to the presidency further emboldened the Cojuangco-Aquinos in attacking Luisita farm workers. The Cojuangco-Aquinos authorized the mass deployment of military inside Luisita villages and filed fabricated criminal charges against farm workers. Now, they are using the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) ‘distribution process’ to their favor and interest,” the solon said citing DAR’s recent issuance of two separate lists of beneficiaries – a preliminary master list and a provisionary list of beneficiaries that aims to deceive and divide the ranks of farmworker-beneficiaries.”

The solon also encouraged Luisita farmers to persist with their ‘bungkalan’ or collective occupation and cultivation of Luisita lands as an assertion of their right to the lands and their resistance to the landlordism of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

Since 2010, farm workers belonging to the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) started cultivating portions of land for survival. “Hacienda Luisita is no longer a monocrop sugarcane farm. Farmers have planted palay, corn, vegetables and other crops for their consumption and livelihood,” Mariano said.

“While the Cojuangco-Aquinos are maintaining illegal and immoral stronghold of more than 6,000 hectares of Luisita lands, farmers and farm workers must unite and further raise their struggle for genuine land reform. The entire Luisita peasantry must continue to assert their ownership of the lands and counter the ‘divide and rule’ tactics used by the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” said the solon.

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