Six years ago, seven farmworkers were killed and 121 were injured in what is now known as the Luisita Massacre.
Until now, we cry out for justice for our fallen comrades, workers who toiled hard in the azucarera of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan and helped them grow their wealth to become the powerful family that they are, and yet took home a measly P9.50 each week.
A call for justice has never been more timely, with no less than a Cojuangco scion at the helm. Indeed, we should not forget that the day following the massacre, the then Congressman of Tarlac Noynoy defended the violent dispersal of the protesting workers, stating that the police and the military were “subjected to sniper fire coming from an adjacent barangay.”
We also do not forget that in the heat of the campaign, Noynoy’s camp declared that his family wants out of Luisita, but has since shown his insincerity about implementing genuine land reform. In fact, two months after he was elected to lead the country to “The Righteous Path,” the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI) arranged for a vote to let the farmworkers decide on whether they would want the land to be distributed, or acquire shares under a stock distribution option (SDO) scheme.
The move was a shrewd one. After the vote, HLI says more farmers were in favor of having shares under the SDO system, instead of owning land. It is not a coincidence that before the vote, there were malicious reports that only the remote parts of the hacienda would be up for distribution. In addition, military forces were deployed to thwart the people around the hacienda, a six thousand hectare-property that should have been distributed long ago.
So today, on the sixth anniversary of the bloodbath, the Women Workers In Struggle for Employment, Empowerment, and Emancipation (Women WISE³) expresses solidarity with the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita who remain steadfast in the fight for labor rights and genuine land reform.
We urge Noynoy Aquino to stay true to his vow of public service, and put it above his family’s interests. We demand that Malacañang take steps to hold accountable the entities behind the Luisita Massacre. We say no to the SDO schemes and all such efforts to delay distribution of land to farmers. Finally, we call for land reform, an essential component of a true platform for national progress.#