Farmers’ huts razed, crops destroyed in Hacienda Luisita

February 9, 2014

16-year old Rey Flores (left, in black) as he was hauled away from disputed land after he tried to take a video of the destruction of crops using a cellphone camera. (Contributed Photo/Ambala)

16-year old Rey Flores (left, in black) as he was hauled away from disputed land after he tried to take a video of the destruction of crops using a cellphone camera. Contributed Photo/Ambala

A combined force of the police, military, and security guards of a company owned by President Aquino’s kin yesterday set fire to huts and bulldozed crops of three farmers occupying land supposedly covered by land reform.

According to reports by Ambala (Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita), the huts of farmers Ricky Flores, Rudy Pineda and Florida Sibayan in Brgy. Balete were razed to the ground at the same time Pres. Benigno Aquino III was celebrating his birthday.

The group also reported that Rey Flores, a 16-year old son of a farmer, was threatened at gunpoint when he tried to capture the destruction of their hut and crops on his cellphone camera. He was hauled to the local police precinct, and subsequently turned over to social welfare representatives.

The bulldozing of crops continued today under heavy guard by members of the 3rd Mechanized Batallion of the Philippine Army, which has set up camp in the middle of the disputed area, according to the farmers.

“Malacañang, the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Justice (DOJ), Supreme Court, Commission on Human Rights, and all other concerned government agencies are all mum about this issue…Are we all waiting for another Hacienda Luisita massacre before we open our eyes?,” Ambala said in a statement.

Hut of farmer Eddie Castro that was razed to the ground. Ambala

Hut of farmer Eddie Castro that was razed to the ground. Contributed Photo/Ambala

The Cojuangco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) has been trying to fence in 260 hectares of land in Brgy. Balete and Brgy. Cutcut, which have also been cultivated by farmers since 2005. Tadeco guards have employed violent tactics against farmers since last year.

This, despite an order issued by the DAR last December 17 that the said land is covered by land distribution.

The farmers lament that they have filed criminal complaints for threat, harassment, destruction of crops and property, illegal arrest and detention, and robbery against Tadeco guards with the DOJ.

Last January 18, they also filed a case with the SC, citing the company for contempt of the high court’s 2012 decision awarding Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers.

The farmers also filed a cease and desist order against Tadeco with the DAR last December 16.

The DOJ, SC, and DAR have yet to act on their petitions, Ambala said.

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