“The land is my life” (Image via Harvey Keh’s blog)
The land is life for Filipinos and it’s more than just a metaphor. It is the source of their food, the clothes on their backs and the roofs on their heads. It sustains the family in more ways than one. And it can even be a source of hope. It is not at all surprising that every family in the country wishes to have a patch of land where they can plant rice, corn, sugarcane and other crops.
The farmers of the 6,443-hectare Hacienda Luisita, owned by the Cojuangco family through the money of the government, have been waiting so long for the patches of land promised to them. Many of them had or have been working in Hacienda Luisita almost all their lives. It was in 1988 that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP happened. Through CARP, they were given the promise of shares in the land holdings of Hacienda Luisita. Indeed they have every right to these shares. They’re the ones who worked and tilled the land every day with only meager wages. The government is doing the right thing when it declared that the lands be given to the farmers.
But what has happened to that promise now? By this time the lands should’ve been distributed to the farmers already. But yet the promise — CARP — remains unkept.
Yesterday marks the 8th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita where over a hundred farmers demanded and fought for their rights from the Cojuangcos. Cops and soldiers were sent to gain control of the perimeter. After throwing teargas at the picketlines of the farmers, the cops and soldiers started shooting and firing bullets at them. Thirty people were wounded by gunshots and around two hundred people were injured one way or another. Still, twelve men and two children were killed. Supposedly guards and saviors of the people in this country carried out this terrible and very brutal massacre. All these for the benefit of the few elites.
It has been 8 years and still, no justice has been served. According to an article in Bulatlat, “the problems that drove the Hacienda farmworkers into launching a strike in 2004 still remain” (Salamat 2012). These problems are “cheap wages, landlessness and trade union repression” (Salamat 2012).
When will they hear the cries for justice? (Image via Vince’s Photobaket)
There’s still a lack of stand and comment from the President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding this issue. His relationship to the Cojuangcos, being a Cojuangco himself, puts him in a very controversial spot. Yet the man still lacks action, and the rest of the Philippines is too enamored by Tito Sotto (who I also dislike, by the way) or by the imagology (see previous post here for definition) of the media.
Our claim of being a democratic country is becoming a joke. Or has it always been a joke? I have no idea. But for sure, if the government still has any ounce of humanity left in its system (and I refuse to think otherwise), it should serve justice. What use does it have if not for the protection of its people?
December 2004. Massacre of Sugar Plantation Workers in the Philippines. Retrieved from http://www.internationalist.org/philippinesluisitamassacre0412.html
Hacienda Luisita. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2012 from the Hacienda Luisita wiki. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacienda_Luisita#Jos.C3.A9_Cojuangco_period
Salamat, M. (2012, November 17). Trade union repression even worsened, 8 years after Luisita massacre – progressive labor. Bulatlat. Retrieved from http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/11/17/trade-union-repression-even-worsened-8-years-after-luisita-massacre-%E2%80%93-progressive-labor/