Farm workers burn 200 hectares of sugar cane at Hacienda Luisita

THE Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) contends that the spontaneous burning of 200 hectares (has.) of land by farm workers in Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) is an act to assert their ownership of the land which up to now has been denied to them by the Cojuangco’s and Aquinos’.

These farm workers through their militant and sustained struggle through the years to get back what is truly theirs have generated favorable public opinion until last year when the Supreme Court made the final ruling that HLI should be finally distributed to the farm worker beneficiaries.

It is almost a year now but nothing has happened. Instead, the Cojuangco-Aquinos’s have made all kinds of maneuvers in order to cling to the land and profit from it. By using financiers to entice farmer beneficiaries to have their land rented and planted to sugarcane, they are assured of raw materials that would be milled by Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), owned by the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) of the Cojuangco-Aquinos.

Financiers through their cunning and exploitative ways reneged on their verbal agreements with farmers thus making the farmers always on the losing end, UMA said in a statement.

The burning done by the farm workers on those who failed to pay their rent to them is an act to assert their ownership of the land, which they won through their militant and sustained struggles.

Others have opted to plant rice and vegetables in more than 1000 hectares (has.) of land instead of sugarcane. But because of lack of support services and the continuing maneuvers of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, the farm workers are forced to have their lands get rented to financiers in order to plant sugar cane.

The group said “It is time that the government distributes the land to the farm worker beneficiaries and to end all maneuvers to deny them this right.”

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