MANILA, Philippines — The government has failed in giving justice to victims of the violent dispersal of protesting farmers eight years ago at Hacienda Luisita, a sugar plantation in Tarlac owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, a leftist umbrella group said Friday.
“To this day, not one of the perpetrators of this crime has been made accountable. Not one has been formally charged in court,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.
“A crime was committed yet, for the Philippine government, there seems to be no criminals. Our institutions, from the Ombudsman, to the Department of Justice, and even Congress who probed the incident, have all failed the victims of this brutal incident,” he said.
In Nov. 16, 2004, around 4,000 farmers staged a strike calling for fairer wages from the management of the 6,435-hectare sugar plantation.
Police and military personnel reportedly opened fire at the protesters to disperse them, leaving at least seven farmers killed and hundreds injured.
Reyes blamed Aquino for the lack of justice on the incident that happened eight years ago.
Several groups have been repeatedly calling on the government to find out those responsible for the violent incident and make them accountable.
“As president, Aquino is duty bound to enforce the laws and see to it that justice is rendered for those who were killed. Instead of whining about the media coverage of his regime, Aquino should instead work to address the many human rights abuses committed in the past and present,” Reyes said.
“There can be no positive spin in an incident which reeks of gross injustice. There is no ‘good news’ for the families of the victims still crying out for accountability. There can be no ‘balanced presentation’ when the scales of justice are tilted in favor of the big landlords and the state security forces,” he said in the statement.