MABALACAT CITY -- Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao led the commemoration of the 12th anniversary of “Hacienda Luisita Massacre” by joining the solidarity vigil and witnessing the theatrical re-enactment of the violent incident in front of the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) mill on Wednesday.
The re-enactment was the culmination of the three-day cultural caravan that kicked off Monday in front of the office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
On Monday, Casilao delivered a privilege speech at the House of Representatives, demanding “land and justice” for the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.
“We will never forget about Hacienda Luisita massacre, may it reach its 20 or 30th anniversary, as long as the landlord Cojuangco family is not held responsible and farm workers continue to be deprived of their rights,” Casilao said during the activity.
During his privilege speech, Casilao named the the victims including Jesus Laza, Jaime Pastidio, Adriano Caballero, Juancho Sanchez, Jhune David, Jhaivie Basilio and Jessie Valdez.
He also cited the campaign promises of former President Corazon Aquino, assuring distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to the farm workers in 1986.
Casilao asserted that the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), implemented by the Cojuangco family through Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) since 1989, basically preserved their control and brought the farm workers into poverty and their survival under a P9.50 take-home pay for a day’s field work.
The lawmaker recalled that farm workers have expressed its opposition until 2003.
The farmers filed a petition before the office of Secretary of Agrarian Reform for the SDO’s revocation.
They were forced to launch a massive strike on November 6, 2004 when the Cojuangco family was implemented the union-busting measures against the United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu).
Ten days after, seven farmers were killed when elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) dispersed the striking farmers.
Some 121 farmers were wounded and 133 of them were arrested.
“On the Hacienda Luisita struggle, the key was the strong unity of the farm workers, which the Cojuangco family attempted to subdue, but with many sectors who side with the farm workers, the legitimate demand for land and justice continued to drum up, even reaching the international community,” Casilao said.
The Supreme Court decided to revoke the SDO plan and for the distribution of the lands, which under the Aquino presidency, was undermined through the implementation of “tambiolo” land reform and continued land grabbing by the Cojuancgo firm Tarlac Dev’t Corp. (Tadeco).
“We keep on saying that the Hacienda Luisita issue is a microcosm of the country’s feudal situation, where the rich landlord continues to enjoy the fruits of the labor toiled by the farmers, as long as landlessness continue to engross the tens of millions of rural population, the struggle for land and justice will never be silenced,” Casilao said.