Commemorating Luisita massacre: No justice for peasants aspiring, struggling for genuine agrarian reform

As we commemorate the 13th year after the Hacienda Luisita massacre today, we express our solidarity with the struggle of the Filipino peasants against decades-old feudal exploitation and State fascism. 

On November 16, 2004, seven farmworkers were killed by State forces of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime and paid mercenaries of the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan, when the brutal and violent dispersal of the farmworkers demanding just and living wages occurred. For big landlords, compradors and governments, lives of peasants and the poor are cheap, that they can easily be discarded, as long as they have delivered profits for the rich while for years, they were denied of land and resources that they harness. And when they fight back to uphold their rights, they are considered necessary collateral damage to “keep the peace.” 

Under the BS Aquino III regime, Karapatan documented seventeen incidents of massacres of peasants, with 133 victims killed including seven children and 19 indigenous peoples. The Lianga massacre of two indigenous peoples’ leaders and an alternative executive is among these incidents. 

Rodrigo Duterte continues this bloody tradition, with 91 peasants killed out of the 98 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the regime’s counter-insurgency program. Four incidents of massacres recorded, from July 2016 to September 30, 2017. The incidents are as follows: 

July 12, 2016: Higaonon farmers Rogen Suminao, Remar Mayantao, and Senon Nacaytuna, all members of the Sitio Inalsahan Indigenous Peoples Organization in Sumilao, Bukidnon, were killed by 13 armed security guards of the Tagbani Security Agency employed by RAMCAR (Ramon and Carmen Agustines), a ranch owned by Ramon and Carmen. 

September 3, 2016: Suspected State security forces killed farmers Eligio Barbado, Gaudencio Bagalay, Emerenciana Mercado Dela Rosa, and Violeta Mercado De Leon, all members of Alyansa ng mga Mamamayang Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 (ALMANA 3,100), an organization of farmer-beneficiaries in Laur, Nueva Ecija, of the 3,100-hectare land which was already mandated for distribution since 1991. 

April 20, 2017: At around 5:30am, at least forty-two (42) soldiers from the 3rd Scout Ranger unit and 903rd Brigade of the Philippine Army fired at four (4) houses of farmers in Sitio Lubugan, Barangay Pananawan, Kawayan, Masbate province. Seventy year old Lolita Pepito and her grandchildren Rechely Luna, 12, and Reden Luna, 9, were instantly killed, while at least two others were wounded. 

August 25, 2017: Treasure hunters and farmers Marcelo "Mar" Perico, and elderly Arthuro Galvez, along with cook Crisologo Alambra, 60, and his wife Thelma Albanio, 67, were tortured before they were killed by the Philippine National Police – Pangasinan Public Safety Battalion, during clearing and military operations in Pangasinan. The four were accused as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). 

Not one perpetrator and government official responsible for these massacres have been punished and made accountable. Charges against the Cojuangcos, Aquinos and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Hacienda Luisita massacre were dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2010. Warrants of arrest against paramilitary group members responsible for the Lianga massacre have yet to be enforced as the AFP continues to protect and coddle their paramilitary minions. 

Meanwhile, aggressive landgrabs by hacienderos, compradors and local and foreign corporations continue, while seven out ten farmers could not afford to amortize the land awarded to them, with the US-Duterte regime’s continuation of neoliberal policies that intensify the poverty and exploitation of peasants. 

We call on the Filipino people to continue to support aspirations and struggle for peasants for just and lasting peace, for genuine agrarian reform and against state fascism in the country, especially amid Duterte’s all out war against the people.

Reference: 

Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

 

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