By CPP Information Bureau
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the brutal murder last 31 October of one of the leaders of the peasant workers of Hacienda Luisita. The body of Dennis dela Cruz, an official of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA, Alliance of Farm Workers in Hacienda Luisita), was found bludgeoned inside a hut he was fixing in Barangay (village) Balete.
“The murder of dela Cruz could only have been perpetrated by the armed goons of the Cojuangcos who are determined to drive away the peasant workers who have been actively exposing the fakery in the so-called land distribution scheme being implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform in connivance with the Cojuangco’s Luisita Realty Corp. and the Tarlac Development Corp.,” said the CPP.
Prior to dela Cruz’s murder, TADECO and the Luisita Realty Corp. deployed armed guards to fence off 100 hectares of land in Barangay Balete and 400 hectares in Barangay Cutcut to drive out peasant farmers who have long been tilling the land in the area. Peasant workers in the area have engaged in “bungkalan” or collective tilling of land to assert their ownership of the land and produce food stuff for their consumption and retail.
According to AMBALA and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, Peasants Alliance in Central Luzon), the armed guards threatened dela Cruz several times over the past few days. The armed guards occupied four other houses in Barangay Balete, and prevented its owners from repairing their homes. They have been telling the residents who have been tilling the land that they should cease from planting rice and vegetables. Charges of trespassing have been filed against 82 farmers in Barangay Cutcut.
Peasant organizations in Hacienda Luisita have also complained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is increasing its deployment in the different barangays. There are reports that the AFP has deployed at least four tanks in the area.
Hacienda Luisita is a 6,500 hectare land owned by the Aquino-Cojuangco clan that was taken from the peasant workers in the 1950s. It has avoided land distribution through various legal and corporate schemes. In 2011, the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of the Luisita land under the government Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER).
No land distribution, however, is actually taking place. Instead, peasant organizations have exposed that what is being distributed are certificates of land amortizations which are to be paid for by supposed beneficiaries for the next 225 years. They have also exposed how the scheme has displaced a number of long-standing claimants to the land who have been excluded from the list of beneficiaries prepared by the DAR in collaboration with the Cojuangcos.
“Over the past 25 years under the CARP and CARPER, this commercial real estate scheme has resulted in the reversion of land ownership to the original or new landlords and the complete failure of land reform.”