“We mark this day to warn Aquino and the Cojuangco-Aquino family against their schemes of getting back Hacienda Luisita. Justice may not be served during this Aquino regime but their names in history as a family that persists on massacre and rights abuses would never be erased and the day of retribution would definitely come.”
Thus declared Joseph Canlas, who chairs the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), during a protest launched by various progressive organizations led by AMGL and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre which took place on November 16, 2004.
The activity began with a mass in Baclaran, Parañaque for the martyrs of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI). It was attended by members of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Luisita Peasant and People’s Alliance, church people and other supporters. They called on the people to support their struggle for justice.
The next day, on November 15, up to 300 peasants protested in front of Aquino’s house at Times St., Quezon City, joined by other members of KMP and UMA, PAMA-LAKAYA and Partidong Anakpawis. They burned huge portraits of Aquino and his uncles Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco.
They later marched to Mendiola, where they were met by members of other organizations. In the afternoon, they launched a caravan towards Hacienda Luisita where they were met by more than a thousand farm workers from AMBALA and the United Luisita Worker’s Union. They protested at Barangay San Roque, where a violent demolition took place in October, and in front of the Northern Luzon Command camp. By nightfall, they held a program and vigil at Barangay Balite, inside HLI.
On November 16, they launched another caravan in the ten barangays of Tarlac City covered by Hacienda Lui-sita before holding a program at Gate 1 of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the actual site of the massacre that claimed the lives of seven farm workers.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) strongly supports the peasants and farm workers of HLI in commemorating the bloody massacre. The CPP supports their cry for justice and recognizes the deep significance of this commemoration in the peasantry’s struggle for genuine land reform.
Progressive organizations within HLI have won a number of solid gains. They have been able to assert their right to collectively till a portion of the hacienda lands to support themselves economically. They have been doing so, conscious of the limitations posed by such a form of struggle. They have maintained their strong solidarity and are aware of the need to sustain their efforts to consolidate their ranks in order to continue overcoming the various maneuvers of the reactionaries to destroy their strength and fighting spirit.
The Cojuangco-Aquino clan has held the hacienda for close to six decades. They have persistently maneuvered and used state power to deprive the peasants and farm workers of the land that used to be theirs.
Utilizing its control over the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has surreptitiously included its house servants and stable hands in the list of beneficiaries. The farm workers have also been saddled with so many documentary requirements in order to sabotage the distribution of the vast estate’s land.
The farm workers face a difficult and complicated struggle before they could achieve social justice.