Injustice, continuing peasant killings and prevailing landlessness mark 14th year of Hacienda Luisita massacre

“Justice remains elusive for the seven farmers massacred at the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita on November 16, 2004.  The fact that nine sugar farmworkers were also massacred in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last month is not lost on us. This is a glaring indication of the prevailing landlessness in the country and the worsening situation of our farmers and farm workers, as well as the climate of impunity carefully preserved by those in power. Gloria Arroyo is sitting comfortably in Congress while the Aquinos are careful not to draw any more attention to themselves; the victims’ relatives and the Hacienda Luisita farm workers, however, are still shouting for justice and accountability,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Today marks the fourteenth year since state forces conducted a bloody dispersal of more than 5,000 sugar farm workers and 500 sugar mill workers fighting for their rights to decent wages and their rights to the land they tilled and made productive for decades. This has resulted to the deaths of Jun David, Jaime Pastidio, Jhaivie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Juancho Sanchez, Adrian Caballero, and Jessie Valdez.

Palabay noted that “this system will kill again. The massacres and rights violations will continue so long as big landlords, coddled by those in government, are protected and are free to trample on the rights of the poor. This is a long-standing collusion that deliberately blocks any attempt to freely distribute the land to its tillers. These cases, while fourteen years apart, provide a clear picture of landlessness and poverty in the country, and how the peasant sector have courageously chosen to take a stand and fight for their right to land amid the loitering of private goons and state forces.”

Karapatan’s secretary general also took swipe at the Duterte government and its supporters who only seem to remember cases of rights violations such as the Hacienda Luisita massacre as an arsenal to isolate the Aquino regime. “If you are going to ask for government accountability, be consistent. The Hacienda Luisita massacre happened during the time of the Arroyo regime, conspiring with the Cojuangcos and Aquinos. Yet, the killing of farmers is a trademark of every repressive government, ruled and dominated by hacienderos. Take the side of the farmers and you will see how every government wielded the tool of repression against them and other basic sectors,” said Palabay. 

“We must not forget past and recent atrocities by all governments. The thread of repression continues. Only by addressing the root causes of landlessness and poverty will there be justice for those who offered their lives in the struggle for land and genuine systemic change. Justice for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and all victims of State terrorism!” Palabay concluded.


Reference:

Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580