Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) lambasted President Benigno Aquino 3rd and members of the Cojuangco family for the arrest of farm workers who tried to stop the bulldozing of farmlands in Hacienda Luisita.
“The recent illegal arrest of eight Hacienda Luisita farmers concretely shows the continuing resistance and defiance of the Cojuangco-Aquinos to the distribution of the lands,” says KMP chairman Rafael Mariano.
He added, “At the same time, it proves the Department of Agrarian Reform’s ineptitude and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as fake.”
“The landlord President and his family will never let go of Hacieda Luisita. The farm workers must continuously assert their rights to land,” Mariano further said.
Reports said that on Saturday at about 3:30 p.m., Special Weapons and Tactics personnel led by acting Tarlac City Police Chief Bayani Razalan and 30 security guards of the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), with a bulldozer in tow, went to the hut of a certain Raymund Alcaide in Barangay Balete in Hacienda Luisita where farm workers converged to block the security forces.
During the confrontation, security guards of Tadeco told farm workers that they would continue the bulldozing of farmlands which started on December 12.
The farm workers asked for a copy of a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) order sanctioning the bulldozing.
They then showed the police officers and the security guards the notice of land reform coverage from the Department of Agrarian Reform, arguing that what the “Cojuangcos” are doing is “land grabbing.”
The police officers and guards brushed off the arguments of the farm workers and proceeded with bulldozing the rice fields of the family of a certain Melchor Ramos, one of the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.
In the resulting tussle, police ordered the arrest of the farm workers who tried to stop the bulldozing of the said farmlands.
Those who were arrested include Vicente Sambo, Rod Acosta, Eufemia Acosta, Ronald Sakay, Jose Baldiviano, Elsa Baldiviano, Manuel Mandigma and Mamerto Mandigma. The police eventually released Eufemia and Elsa after more than for hours in detention.
Tadeco started its bulldozing on December 12 on the rice fields of farm workers in Barangay Balete despite DAR’s issuance of a notice of coverage of the said farmlands. The said notice was published in a major newspaper on December 17.
“We demand the Aquino government to immediately release the Hacienda Luisita farmers now,” the KMP said.