Reference: Gi Estrada, UMA Media officer, 09166114181
Attached are pictures of the destruction of the house of Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan
Duterte challenged to end Cojuangco-Aquino reign in Luisita
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the most recent incident of violence against farmers in Hacienda Luisita which occurred last May 30, when agents of the Cojuangco-Aquino family was said to be yet again involved in the foiled demolition of a farmers’ home in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Tarlac City in Hacienda Luisita.
The home of victim, Charlito “Tatang Gerry” Catalan, was reportedly destroyed by a “demolition team” sent by barangay captain Edison Diaz of nearby village Lourdes (formerly Texas), even without showing any court order. Farmworkers were able to identify some members of the team such as Ronnie Reyes, a certain Junior Baul, and Andong Basa, known employees of AGRICULTO, a sugarcane planters organization connected to the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Farmworkers from the alliance AMBALA were able to stop the men before they completely destroyed Catalan’s home.
According to UMA secretary general Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, this latest attack against farmers appears to be a grave insult from the Cojuangco-Aquinos to the to the incoming Duterte administration.
“Is BS Aquino’s family sending Duterte the signals that they can still do whatever they please in their hacienda?” asked Ramos. The Luisita problem is also a concrete challenge for Duterte, who just enlisted Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano to helm the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Ramos said that the victims, Tatang Gerry and his family, have experienced a string of injustices, atrocities and rights violations since the DAR implemented what farmers call “fake land distribution” under the BS Aquino administration since 2013. Tatang Gerry has cultivated this parcel of land in Mapalacsiao since after the Hacienda Luisita strike more than a decade ago, but the farmlot was raffled off by the DAR to other farmworker-beneficiaries residing in nearby Barangay Lourdes. The farmlots were immediately seized by the “aryendo system” brokered for the Cojuangcos by local officials such as Diaz.
Tatang Gerry was among farmers illegally arrested and detained by a team of fully-armed police led by no less than the local Tarlac police chief Felix Verbo in April 2014. They were slapped with harassment suits by DAR personnel –violation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657), an absurd complaint which was later junked.
A few months after, DAR employees, police and local barangay officials destroyed Tatang Gerry’s rice and vegetable crops to drive away his family from the land. Before this most recent incident, more than 20 hectares of collective farms or “bungkalan” areas, including Tatang Gerry’s farm, were destroyed using eight tractors manned by goons allegedly hired by known Cojuangco-Aquino farm administrators last March.
Ramos expressed that more of such incidents might occur in Hacienda Luisita and other areas “to show the incoming Duterte administration how powerful the hacienderos are still.”
“We call on President-elect Duterte to immediately conduct a complete and thorough investigation of BS Aquino’s bogus implementation of the 2012 Supreme Court decision for total land distribution in Hacienda Luisita. The decades-long injustice against the thousands of Luisita farmworkers and the millions of peasants nationwide must now be reversed with genuine land reform. Farmers must continue to be vigilant and fight back,” said Ramos.
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
Federation of Agricultural Workers | Philippines
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