Exhibit A of impunity: Hacienda Luisita massacre
“Twelve years after, justice remains elusive to the seven victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre, to the more than a hundred farmworkers and their families who were shot and injured during the bloody dispersal of the farmworkers’ strike, and to the thousands of farmers and farmworkers who are defending their right to decent and living wages and the right to reap the benefits of the land they tilled for decades. The case of Hacienda Luisita is one of the foremost examples of impunity in the Philippines,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, as Luisita farmers today led protest and commemoration activities in Tarlac.
From UMA Facebook Page
Karapatan said, “Justice also remains elusive to those who supported the struggle of the farmworkers, including Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente and Tarlac City Councilor Abel Ladera.”
According to the Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the original complaint was filed by 52 victims in January 2005. The Ombudsman’s first resolution dismissing the charges against civilian respondents DOLE Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas, Usec. Manuel Imson, Sherriff Francis Reyes and members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family, was released only a few months after—on July 2005.
President BS Aquino, who was both a Congressman and active administrator of his family’s sugar business during the Luisita massacre, was among the civilian respondents for charges of Multiple Murder, Multiple Frustrated Murder, Multiple Attempted Murder, Theft, and Malicious Mischief. Also charged was Aquino’s appointed AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., who held the reins at the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM). Catapang was responsible for the deployment of NOLCOM soldiers and armored personnel carriers (tanks) in the strike area as one of the ground commanders during the massacre.
A second resolution by the Ombudsman’s Military and Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) dismissing all charges against police and military respondents was released in December 2010, only a few months after BS Aquino assumed the Presidency. Cases were dismissed based solely on reports submitted by the NBI and without any other effort on the part of the Ombudsman to conduct a more thorough investigation.
In April 2012, the Supreme Court resolved that 4,915 hectares (originally 6,000-plus hectares) of the land covered by the hacienda should be distributed to 6,296 farmworker-beneficiaries. Farmworkers however opposed the manner of distribution via tambiolo (lottery drum) raffle implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform and the requirement that each beneficiary pay for the land at the 1989 price level — over 30 years — before acquiring ownership of just 6,600 square meters.
“In spite of the fact that the SC has unanimously ruled in favor of the farmworkers, at present, the Cojuangcos continue to question a DAR ruling to distribute some 500 hectares of HLI”s prime land, and have driven out the farmers tilling parts of the land. We welcome DAR initiatives under the leadership of Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano to distribute more than 300 hectares of HLI. However, there should be continued vigilance and assertion for genuine land reform,” Palabay said.
Karapatan supports #RememberLuisita, a People's Cultural Caravan for Land, Justice & Peace which commenced since November 14, 2016. Karapatan joins AMBALA and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and other people's organizations in our continuing struggle for land and social justice.