Youth party lauds ‘Occupy Luisita’, backs call for free land distribution

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kabataan Party-list lauds the farmers of Hacienda Luisita in their historic first step to re-occupy the land that was once theirs.

Peasant groups Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), and others set out to smash open the walls of a corner of lands claimed by RCBC in Barangay Balete, Tarlac, to kickoff their Occupy Luisita campaign on April 24. This date was five years since the Supreme Court decision for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmer beneficiaries.

“This is an assertion long overdue, especially in the face of Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo’s stubbornness to give the lands,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

A long history of land grabbing and oppression

According to accounts from UMA and AMBALA, the almost 5,000-hectare land for distribution was quickly returned to the control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos through different schemes such as dummy beneficiaries, among others. The tambiolo system further excluded farmer beneficiaries and decreased their chances of land distribution.

Also, the Cojuangco-Aquinos haven’t paid the farmers yet the P1.3 billion they owed following the decision. Instead, they had the gall to demand the ‘just compensation’ of P475 million from DAP.

This is in addition to the fake ‘land ownership’ given to farmers under the stock distribution option (SDO) and bogus certificates of land ownership (CLOA).

The farmworkers within Luisita have been subjected to contractualization and other schemes, further lowering their wage from P9.50/day in 2004.

In addition, the tillers are continuously displaced and sent out by the military, police and private forces, through heightened state fascism, such as during the bloody Luisita massacre of 2004.

“What an injustice! All of this in the name of the control of TADECO, LIPCO, LRC, Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), RCBC, and other companies owned or partnered by the Cojuangco-Aquinos. For example, in CAT, they are partnered with Martin Lorenzo who also owns the Lapanday plantations in Mindanao,” Elago said.

A fight for the tillers’ right

“As Agrarian Reform secretary Ka Paeng Mariano said earlier, the control over agricultural land must always be in the hands of the farmers,” Elago reiterated.

The youth party joins the different farmers’ organizations in their call for free land distribution and genuine agrarian reform.

“The fight of Luisita and the farmers of the nation is far from over. We call on the youth to support and join the farmers’ sama-samang bungkalan, in the assertion of their right to the lands they deserve,” Elago said.

We will exhaust all venues to ensure that the your plights are heard — through venues such as DAR and the peace talks — and ultimately, through the growing movement of the youth, peasants and the people. We expect more lands to be occupied and tilled in the days to come, and we support you on this campaign,” Elago concluded. ###