PHILIPPINES: Cojuanco - Aquino guards drive Luisita farmers away

Friday 15 November 2013

Date: 13 November 2013 Type: News Source: Bulatlat Keywords: farmers, land grabbing, fascism

MANILA — As the whole nation is busy in relief operations for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), a man-made disaster took place in Hacienda Luisita this morning November 13.

About 60 security guards hired by the Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco), a corporation owned by President Benigno Aquino III and family, demolished the hut built by farmers in Balete village, Tarlac City.

“Three of us were hurt as security guards pushed us away,” Florida Sibayan, chairwoman of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) told Bulatlat.com in a phone interview. “One of the guards pushed the wooden post so hard it fell on me. My back is swollen.”

Sibayan’s mother, 76-year-old Maria Versola and her sister, Ermisa Baldeviano, 46, were also hurt.

Sibayan said the security guards did not show any court order.

“What’s worse is that the PNP (Philippine National Police-Tarlac) were there as it happened and they did not do anything,” Sibayan related. “It’s clear that they went there to support the moves of Tadeco.”

The day before, Tadeco personnel bulldozed trees and vegetables in the same village, according to Sibayan. Tadeco and another Cojuangco-Aquino-owned corporation, Luisita Realty Corporation, are claiming ownership of some 880 hectares of land in Balete and Cutcut villages inside the hacienda.

In Balete village in particular, some 220 hectares of land being claimed by Tadeco are part of Ambala’s bungkalan (cultivation) campaign that started in 2005. Farmers have planted palay, vegetables, trees and other crops in these areas.

Sibayan said Tadeco security guards have also been threatening farmers against planting crops.

Tadeco also filed charges of unlawful detainer against 81 farmers in Cutcut village. The company also issued eviction notices to hundreds of farmers who are supposed to be beneficiaries of the 2012 Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution of land in Hacienda Luisita.

In its April 24, 2012 decision, the Supreme Court mandated the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to implement the land distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworker-beneficiaries. According to Ambala, Tadeco appeared in the picture after the DAR’s Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC) distribution in Cutcut village on July 18.

The group has asked DAR’s assistance regarding Tadeco’s claims but the agency has not taken any action.

Ambala maintains that the land being claimed by Tadeco should be included for distribution to farmers. In July, Ambala complained that there is a discrepancy in the number of hectares for distribution. In the 05 July 2011 decision of the high court, the total number of hectares up for distribution should be 4,915.75 hectares minus 580.15 hectares or 4,335.60 hectares. The DAR, however, arrived at the total land area of only 4,099 hectares, saying that it excluded residential areas, canals, roads, firebreaks, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds, eroded areas, and legal easements.

Ambala deemed that the “missing” lands are those being claimed by Tadeco and LRC.

See online : PHILIPPINES: Cojuanco - Aquino guards drive Luisita farmers away

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