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Farmers injured, nabbed, terrorized by state forces in latest P-Noy kin landgrab rampage in Hacienda Luisita

Reference: Renato Mendoza, AMBALA Barangay Cutcut +63912-330-9329

FACT SHEET: INCIDENTS IN BARANGAY CUTCUT, HACIENDA LUISITA

I. Assault, Physical Injuries

· March 24, 2014

1. Victim: RUDY CORPUZ, 59, AMBALA leader

Alleged perpetrator: FAUSTINO CORPUZ (not related), TADECO hired personnel

· March 28, 2014

2. Victim(s): JERRY MESA, 45, and other farmers / members of AMBALA

Alleged perpetrators: TADECO security personnel led by MAURO DELA CRUZ, JOVITO SUELEN nad a certain PALOMAR

I. Assault, Physical Injuries with Arbitrary Arrest and Detention

Victims: MARCELINO LUGAY, PIA HERNANDEZ, FERNAN CORPUZ, farmers and AMBALA members

Alleged perpertrators: TADECO personnel, PNP-SWAT Tarlac

II. Destruction of Property / Looting

Dismantling of farmhut serving as organization headquarters, etc.

Victims: AMBALA Barangay Cutcut chapter and individual members

Alleged perpetrators: TADECO security men with PNP-SWAT Tarlac and military personnel from 3rd Mechanized Battalion as accomplices

III. Warantless Raids, Harassment

Victims: Residents of Barangay Cutcut

Alleged perpetrators: PNP-SWAT Tarlac / 3rd Mech Bn personnel

Morning of March 24, 2014, about a hundred members of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) representing different barangays (villages), trooped to the provincial office (PARO) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to follow up on their pending urgent petition for the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against the violent eviction of farmers by Cojuangco-Aquino firm Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO).

AMBALA filed the petition before the DAR Region III Office in Pampanga on December 26, 2013, the only working day after TADECO ordered the bulldozing of crops, mauling and illegal arrest of farmers within a 258-hectare TADECO-claimed area in Barangay Balete during the Christmas season. The area is now secured by concrete fences, barbed wires, private security personnel led by the Great Star agency and a company headquarters of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Before the violent attacks, TADECO also filed unlawful detainer (ejectment) charges against 81 farmers in Barangay Cutcut and 26 farmers in Barangay Balete. These farmer-families are long-time residents and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita, some tilling the land even before the Cojuangco-Aquinos took over the sugar plantation in 1957. Farmers have been cultivating hundreds of hectares of land for foodcrops since 2005 via the bungkalan (tillage) campaign of AMBALA. The ejectment charges against the farmers have been recently DISMISSED by local courts.

Instead of acting on the CDO petition, local DAR officials enjoined residents of Barangays Cutcut and Balete to “apply as agrarian reform beneficiaries” as the DAR vowed to distribute some 360 hectares of the contested property to bonafide residents and tillers. The DAR issued a Notice of Land Reform Coverage (NOC) for the TADECO areas, published by the Philippine Star on December 17, 2013.

AMBALA chose to protest DAR’s inaction on the first day of its application process for Cutcut residents on March 24. Balete residents, meanwhile, were advised to start applying for lot allocations on April 1.

During the March 24 picket-dialogue, PARO Chief Ileona Pangilinan assured AMBALA Chairperson Florida “Pong” Sibayan that the DAR will look after the interests of so-called “farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs)” but said that her office cannot do anything to stop the aggressive steps of TADECO against Hacienda Luisita farmers.

Pangilinan claimed that she was not aware that Sibayan was just recently released from police custody. Sibayan is respondent to a number of “harrasment suits” directly filed by TADECO and the local police in Tarlac, meant to silence farmers’ dissent in Hacienda Luisita. Dozens of other farmers and their supporters also face harassment suits.

A few hours after the dialogue, violence erupted in Barangay Cutcut. Local AMBALA leader Rudy Corpuz, 59, sustained six stitches due to head injuries after an assault by a certain Faustino Corpuz (not related to Rudy), one of the men hired by TADECO to fence the agricultural lots in Cutcut. AMBALA members tried to reason with the contract workers that the area is subject to land reform coverage and must not be fenced by the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Thugs hired by TADECO turned violent instead and attacked AMBALA leaders.

Two days after on March 26, residents noticed the build-up of TADECO security personnel, along with the unusual deployment of police forces in Barangay Cutcut. Fifteen policemen in two official vehicles and an 8-man Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team armed with high-powered rifles were deployed to assist TADECO guards in fencing agricultural lands. Ten soldiers from the 3rd Mechanized Battalion were also reported spotted.

On March 27, police officers identified as S/INSP. GALICIA and SPO3 GARCIA, bluntly told AMBALA leaders to let TADECO personnel “peacefully do their job” of fencing off agricultural land from farmers. Farmers who trooped to the scene told the police that there is a standing agreement to maintain “status quo” forged before local village officials last January, between TADECO security and Cutcut farmers represented by AMBALA. Other police personnel on the scene were identified as SPO3 BALOT, SPO1 ABELLA & PO2 BERNARDO.

On March 28, about 2 pm, around 20 TADECO security personnel led by MAURO DELA CRUZ, JOVITO SUELEN and a certain PALOMAR attacked farmers with hammers and shovels. Police and soldiers were at the place of incident while the farmers were being beaten up.

Farmer Jerry Mesa, 45, who was hit by a hammer on his head, was rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital for treatment. Other farmers suffered various injuries.

Instead of intervening to stop TADECO men who instigated the attack, police started arbitrarily arresting farmers. Those nabbed by police were identified as Marcelino Lugay, Pia Hernandez, and Fernan Corpuz. Lugay and Hernandez were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Tarlac City , while Corpuz, brother of Rudy, was also rushed to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital due to heart problems. Corpuz is currently confined at the hospital with police escorts.

TADECO security guards then proceeded to dismantle AMBALA’s “kubol” or farmhut serving as local headquarters in Barangay Cutcut. Farmers have yet to report the extent of destruction and looting of the organization’s belongings, tools, and crops. Police and soldiers served as “security” while TADECO guards demolished AMBALA’s farmhut.

Police and soldiers terrorized the entire community as they roamed around Barangay Cutcut hunting down AMBALA leaders. They conducted warantless raids and randomly confiscated cellular phones of residents.

TADECO personnel now continue to set up fences to bar farmers from tending to their crops. AMBALA asserts that around a thousand hectares of prime lands including contested TADECO property were cunningly excluded by the DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos from land distribution, but is covered by the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to distribute all agricultural land in Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers. ##

Photos: (“R”) injuries of AMBALA leader Rudy Pineda

Tarlac police / SWAT deployed in Hacienda Luisita

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

(Agricultural Workers Union )

Philippines

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-011-2014

3 April 2014

[Re: AHRC-UAC-036-2014 PHILIPPINES : One farmer killed, three others wounded after they were shot for harvesting crops they cultivated on disputed land]
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PHILIPPINES : A peasant leader who was defending his land was hurt in a confrontation with thugs

ISSUES: human rights defenders; land rights
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a peasant leader was hurt after protecting his land from perpetrators that set up markers on disputed land. The disputed land is covered by a notice of land reform coverage dated December 17, 2013 issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

UPDATED INFORMATION: (Based on the documentation by the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights -KARAPATAN-)

In our appeal in March 20, 2014 (UAC-036-2014) we reported the violent confrontation on a piece of disputed land in Central Luzon that led to the death of Arman Padino. He and his colleagues were on their way to harvest their fruit and vegetables but were prohibited by the security guards of LLL Holdings.

On 24 March 2014, Rudy Corpuz (59), a leader of the Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) from Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita, suffered head injuries after an attack by a certain Faustino Corpuz (no relation to Rudy), a worker contracted by Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) to set up markers on disputed property. Local AMBALA members in Cutcut have been standing vigil over a hundred hectares of agricultural land planted with rice grain and vegetables due to threats of bulldozing and fencing by TADECO.

TADECO filed ejectment charges against 81 farmers from Barangay Cutcut who have been planting foodcrops in the said area since 2005. The charges were recently dismissed by local courts. The said property is also covered by a notice of land reform coverage (NOC) dated December 17, 2013 issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

On the same day, farmers led by AMBALA Chairperson Florida “Pong” Sibayan confronted local DAR officials headed by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) Chief, Ileona Pangilinan, for failing to act on AMBALA’s urgent cease and desist petition against TADECO filed since December.

Pangilinan reportedly told the farmers that “the DAR is on their side,” but Sibayan dared the officials to put their words into action. The NOC that the DAR issued for TADECO property is useless if they cannot even issue a cease and desist order to stop the Cojuangco-Aquino family from fencing off these lands from the farmers.

Sibayan’s hut and crops were among those destroyed by thugs, allegedly hired by the Cojuangcos in another village, Barangay Balete last February 8. Twelve farmers including Sibayan’s husband Willy, filed new complaints of malicious mischief, grave coercion, illegal detention before the Department of Justice (DOJ), March 20. Barangay Balete is now literally surrounded by concrete fences on all sides except that which faces the Luisita Access Road .

Sibayan was recently released from police custody after posting bail for a fabricated criminal charge filed by a TADECO security guard. Dozens of farmers and their supporters have also been laid with fabricated criminal charges by filed by local police and TADECO with intention to harass and to suppress the dissenting farmers.

The company headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Mechanized Battalion is located inside the fenced TADECO area in Barangay Balete, where bulldozers owned by the Cojuanco’s are parked. Preceding TADECO’s move to set up markers on disputed land, soldiers conducted a medical mission in Barangay Cutcut.

Another detachment of the paramilitary CAFGU was transferred from Barangay Lourdes to an area nearer Barangay Central and Mapalacsiao, where the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and TADECO have been bulldozing and fencing off some 214 hectares of agricultural land. Kris Aquino, sister of the President, is now a board member of CAT.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights defenders.

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAU-011-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: A peasant leader who was defending his land was hurt in a confrontation with thugs

Name of the victims:
1. Rudy Corpuz, 59 years old, resident of Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita. He is a leader of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA).
2. Florida “Pong” Sibayan, She is a resident of Barangay Balete, Hacienda Luisita.
She is the chairperson of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA).
Alleged Perpetrators:
1. Faustino Corpuz, a worker contracted by Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) and other individuals who are alleged to be hired thugs
Dates of incident:
1. March 24, 2014
2. February 8, 2014
Place of incident:
1. Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita
2. Barangay Balete, Hacienda Luisita

I am writing to raise my grave concern regarding the case of Rudy Corpuz. On 24 March 2014, Rudy Corpuz, (59), a leader of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) from Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita suffered head injuries after an attack by a certain Faustino Corpuz (no relation to Rudy), a worker contracted by Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) to set up markers on disputed property. Local AMBALA members in Cutcut have been standing vigil over a hundred hectares of agricultural land planted with rice grain and vegetables due to threats of bulldozing and fencing by TADECO.

TADECO filed ejectment charges against 81 farmers from Barangay Cutcut who have been planting foodcrops in the said area since 2005. The charges were recently dismissed by local courts. The said property is also covered by a notice of land reform coverage (NOC) dated December 17, 2013 issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

On the same day, farmers led by AMBALA Chairperson Florida “Pong” Sibayan confronted local DAR officials headed by Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) Chief Ileona Pangilinan, for failing to act on AMBALA’s urgent cease and desist petition against TADECO filed since December.

Pangilinan reportedly told the farmers that “the DAR is on their side,” but Sibayan dared officials to put their words into action. The NOC that the DAR issued for TADECO property is useless if they cannot even issue a cease and desist order to stop the Cojuangco-Aquino family from fencing off these lands from farmers.

Sibayan’s hut and crops were among those destroyed by thugs allegedly hired by the Cojuangcos in another village, Barangay Balete last February 8. Twelve farmers including Sibayan’s husband Willy, filed new complaints of malicious mischief, grave coercion, illegal detention before the Department of Justice (DOJ), March 20. Barangay Balete is now literally surrounded by concrete fences on all sides except that which faces the Luisita Access Road .

I learned that Sibayan was recently released from police custody after posting bail for a fabricated criminal charge filed by a TADECO security guard. Dozens of farmers and their supporters have also been laid with fabricated criminal charges by filed by local police and TADECO with intention to harass and to suppress the dissenting farmers.

The company headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Mechanized Battalion is located inside the fenced TADECO area in Barangay Balete, where bulldozers owned by the Cojuanco’s are parked. Preceding TADECO’s move to set up markers on disputed land, soldiers conducted a medical mission in Barangay Cutcut.

Another detachment of the paramilitary CAFGU was transferred from Barangay Lourdes to an area nearer Barangay Central and Mapalacsiao, where the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) and TADECO have been bulldozing and fencing off some 214 hectares of agricultural land. Kris Aquino, sister of the President, is now a board member of CAT.

I urge you to properly investigate the case of harassment on Hacienda Luisita farmers. Please also, ensure that the local agrarian reform office act on the pending petition filed by AMBALA last December.

Furthermore, President Aquino III and his family should refrain from intervening in the issue of disputed land and ensure that the farmers can claim the land that they have been farming for decades.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Police Director Alan LM Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City , Philippines
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

5. Atty. Virgilio R. Delos Reyes
Secretary
Department of Agrarian Reform
Elliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City , PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 920-03-80
E-mail: gildlr2010@gmail.com; secgildar@gmail.com

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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