Luisita farm workers welcome SC decision, call on Aquino to respect ruling
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Farm workers of the Hacienda Luisita lauded the Supreme Court final decision affirming the distribution of 4,916 hectares of Hacienda Luisita land to the original 4,296 original farm-worker beneficiaries.
In a unanimous vote, the high court upheld its ruling of November 22 last year on the half-century-old land dispute. Since the 50s, the 6,443-hectare sugar plantation has been controlled by the family of President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III. The Supreme Court ruling, if and when it got implemented, would start transferring that control to the farm-workers.
“We are happy and sad at the same time. This is the fruit of our long, arduous struggle. We dedicate this victory to the martyrs of Hacienda Luisita and to all our supporters,” Rodel Mesa, secretary general of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) and one of the beneficiaries, told Bulatlat.com in a phone interview.
Mesa was remembering the seven farm workers killed during the violent dispersal on November 16, 2004, in what is known now as the Hacienda Luisita massacre. Seven others, including supporters, were slain in the aftermath of the massacre.
“This victory is long overdue. Lives should not have been sacrificed if only the Cojuangco-Aquinos had returned our land to us many years ago,” Mesa said. He joined the hundreds of farm workers who went to Baguio City to await the high court decision.
In 1957, the Cojuangcos purchased the Hacienda Luisita through a loan from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Central Bank with the condition that the land would be distributed to the farmworkers after ten years. But the Cojuangco-Aquinos never gave up control of the vast sugar estate in the decades that followed.
“The Supreme Court decision is a big leap forward for the Luisita farmworkers and the Filipino peasantry’s life-and-death struggle for genuine agrarian reform,” said Randall Echanis, deputy secretary general of the Kilusang MAgbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), in a statement. “Their victory will inspire other farmers to pursue with the struggle,” Echanis said..... MORE
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(Without Fear or Favor)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
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