Labor NGO, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) hailed the Supreme Court’s unanimous vote in favor of total land distribution of the 4914.15-hectare Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to more than 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries saying that the decision released on Wednesday is a ‘dramatic victory’ for HLI farmers in their protracted struggle for land and justice.
CTUHR Executive Director Daisy Arago said, “It is a success for the farmers of Luisita and the unanimous vote of the magistrates only highlights the justness of the farmers’ demand for their right to land. It is a dramatic victory for the Luisita farm-workers in their fight for land and justice especially for those who have sacrificed their lives during the half-century struggle.”
On its ruling, the SC junked the stock distribution option and unanimously agreed that the Cojuangco-owned estate should be distributed to 6,296 farmer beneficiaries in accordance to an order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in 2005. The order also include the sales of Luisita Realty Inc. from the 200-hectare land converted to industrial land worth Php500 million [Read link].
“The farmers literally shed sweat and blood for the Luisita land. We are happy that after decades of struggle and many lives lost, the Supreme Court this time, sided with the farmers.”
At least seven farm-workers died during a violent dispersal in November 2004 following then Labor Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas’ order to assume jurisdiction over the strike of HLI farm-workers. In 1989, several farm-workers were also shot dead in the infamous Mendiola massacre as thousands of farmers rallied near Malacañang demanding then President Corazon Aquino to implement land reform.
Arago however noted that only until land is finally distributed to the farmers will justice be completely served especially to the martyrs of Luisita, “The SC ruling thus should be implemented immediately. The farmers have suffered long enough and the President’s family has no reason to delay the distribution of land.”
Aside from distributing the land, CTUHR also called for full government support to the farmers for developing the land distributed to them. “The government should provide access to support and subsidies to farmers so they can develop the land. If these are not made available to them, the lands may eventually fall again in the hands of big landlords once farmers are forced to sell or pawn their share of land because they are unable to afford the high costs of seeds and pesticides.”
Arago also said that the issue of HLI affects not only Luisita farmers but all the farmers in the country, “What the Aquino administration will do next and how fast it will respond to this ruling is a test case for President Aquino on how sincere his administration is in implementing land reform.”
25 November 2011
Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, +632.4110256, +63910.380.1897, ctuhr.org
- Challenge (1rgcruz.wordpress.com)