Four wounded as guards assault Luisita farmworkers

At around 8: 30 a.m. of June 15, RCBC guards, together with 20 men, threw stones at the farm workers.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Four women were wounded as security guards of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) attempted to fence the 184 hectares being claimed by the bank, according to the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL).

At around 8: 30 a.m. of June 15, RCBC guards, together with 20 men, threw stones at the farm workers guarding the makeshift office of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) located within the disputed land at barangay Balete inside the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.

Four women were wounded. Flor Sibayan, Analyn Martinez, Rowena Flores and 16-year-old Wendy Flores were brought to the nearest hospital for treatment.

In a statement, Rodel Mesa, Ambala chairman, said the fencing was illegal.

The RCBC is claiming ownership of the 184-hectare land inside Hacienda Luisita. In November 2004, a few days after the infamous massacre, the Luisita Industrial Park Co. (Lipco) awarded the land to RCBC as payment for its loan obligations.

Mesa said the RCBC has not shown any court order to initiate the fencing. Ambala filed a petition for the revocation of the conversion order on the disputed land with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) central office.

Mesa said the RCBC should respect the fact that Ambala has a pending case with the DAR. In its petition, Ambala said the disputed land has not been developed after five years since the DAR issued its conversion order.

“The recent attack of RCBC is another hopeless act to evict farmworkers and dismantle the camp-out,” Mesa said.

Farmworkers have camped out at barangay Balete since July 2011 and have been tilling the land for survival. “Since then, incalculable rights abuses and various trumped up cases were crafted by RCBC to demoralize the struggling farmworkers,” Mesa said.

The RCBC filed numerous criminal charges against leaders and members of Ambala.

Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairman, said the latest assault is part of a bigger plan dubbed as Oplan April Spring aimed at threatening the leaders and members of Ambala and to undermine the said organization. “Definitely, this machination of RCBC is similar to that of the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ and its only desire is to control the vast land of Hacienda Luisita and to rake up profits from land speculators” Canlas said.

AMGL and Ambala called on the DAR to issue a cease and desist order against RCBC immediately and implement a status quo to avoid any further violent confrontation.

In a separate statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) criticized President Benigno Aquino III’s marching orders to mobilize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police for the so-called distribution of lands.

With Aquino’s marching order, KMP said, the “bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is now a full-blown counter-insurgency program.”

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general, said they expect additional deployments of state security forces and escalation of human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita and in other parts of the country.

“Today, after the Supreme Court ordered Hacienda Lusita’s distribution, the ball is now in the hands of Aquino’s executive department and the Cojuangco-Aquinos are now using the very same CARP to again evade Hacienda Luisita’s distribution,” Marbella said.
The KMP vowed that “the Filipino peasantry will fight tooth and nail to frustrate Aquino and his yellow gang’s continuing exploitation and deception of farmers using the bogus and anti-peasant CARP itself.” ()

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