Thursday, December 15, 2011

Luisita farmworkers ask CBCP for support, prayers

MANILA, December 15, 2011—Various groups of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are seeking the support and prayers of the Catholic hierarchy for the successful implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision to distribute the 4,916 hectares of HLI to farmers.
Luisita Peasant and People’s Alliance (LUPPA); Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA); Hacienda Luisita Peasant Supporters Network; and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikutltura (UMA) are asking the influential Catholic Bishops Conference to include them in their prayers and homilies.
“The power of prayer makes us stronger and braver most especially [in the face of] our latest information that the Luisita management is using a supervisor group to reverse [its] 14-0 decision,” said Lito Bais, Chairperson, United Luisita Workers Union- Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (ULWU-UMA), in a recent forum.
Bais added that the death of their fellow farmers and farmworkers is an inspiration for them to be more aggressive in pursuing the HLI case.
Likewise, Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, Executive Trustee of Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo and a Founding Member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) also asked the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) to visit and celebrate a Eucharistic Mass in Tarlac.
“The visitation of the different Church communities, especially our beloved Bishops [to celebrate Masses in Tarlac], will be a big help to boost the moral aspects of the HLI victims,” Pahilga added.
Pahilga also hopes the CBCP-NASSA chaired by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo will continue to support the HLI farmers and persists in urging the Supreme Court to be always on the side of truth.
Also present in the forum and pledged their support for the farmers were Sr. M. Francis Añover, RSM, national Coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines –Mission Partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP); Lay missionary Conrad Esemple of Columban Missionaries; and ANAKPAWIS Partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano, who also discussed the legislative Initiative for Land Reform.
Meanwhile, a Holy Mass was offered at the National Shrine of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Parañaque City, on December 14 in thanksgiving for the partial victory of the five-decade struggle of the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita for land and justice.
Free land distribution
“Our position is irrevocable; we want Hacienda Luisita be distributed [for free!],” this was the statement given by Felix Nacpil Jr, Chairman of the Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) on the alleged attempt to convince the Supreme Court, to reverse its early decision on the Hacienda Luisita row.
The Luisita farm worker alliance and its mother federation said petitioners of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) have been highly misinformed and gravely misled by Hacienda Luisita Inc. to pursue the scheme in vain attempt to reverse the 14-0 decision of the Supreme Court to distribute the 4,916 hectares of land to qualified farm worker beneficiaries, according to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
The Supervisory Group had filed a motion for reconsideration and clarification asking the court to nullify its November 22 decision.
However, UMA secretary general Rodel Mesa questioned the motion filed by HLI supervisory group and cited that this action is the opening salvo of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to challenge the SC 14-0 decision on Luisita.
“They (HLI supervisory group) are also workers like us being exploited by the Cojuangco-Aquino. We asked them not to be used as pawn against their farm worker counterparts,” Mesa said.
“We urge them not to be deceived by the management and their cohorts among their ranks promising them fool’s gold in exchange of their support for the reinstatement of the Stock Distribution Option” Mesa added. [Yen Ocampo/CBCPNews]


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