Aquino kin: Luisita no garrison state
The owners of Hacienda Luisita on Wednesday said there had been no increase in military presence or abuse in the sugar estate, a claim that the military said was supported by certifications from village chiefs and Church leaders in Tarlac, President Aquino’s home province.
Reacting to reports that “militarization” was taking place inside the hacienda, Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) spokesperson and lawyer Antonio Ligon said there had been no change in the number of soldiers and policemen securing the estate.
“The number of individuals keeping the hacienda secured has been the same for years,” said Ligon in a statement.
“HLI has not asked for any additional military or police forces to keep the peace and order and no voluntary action has been taken by any of the government agencies to address that,” he said.
“In truth, we think security here is insufficient, but we recognize that the military institution is the correct party to determine and assess the amount of threat present in the area,” Ligon said.
Ligon said the report was baseless and was an attempt to influence the outcome of Supreme Court deliberations on a decision that ordered the estate distributed to its farm workers instead of distributing just shares of stock in HLI.
“HLI has repeatedly stated its position that land distribution, as the Supreme Court has ruled, is the answer but HLI also wants justice for all including 4,000 other farmer beneficiaries who may be disenfranchised,” Ligon added. “There is also the issue of just compensation for the owners.”
Digital copies of the certifications, sent by e-mail by Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres Jr., head of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, attested on two claims: that the unit or any of its soldiers did not hurt any resident.
The certifications were dated March 16 to 20, the period when Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita clamored for the pullout of troops in villages inside the hacienda.
In similarly worded certifications, Fr. Kennedy Feliciano and Fr. John Perez, head and assistant head of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, said they “never heard any untoward incidents, abuses or violations involving the military present here.”
Barangay Captains Noel Pineda (Lourdes), Renato Luna (Balete), Emmanuel Galang (Asturias), Edgardo Aguas (Central), Leonardo Calayag (Mapalacsiao) Estrella Navarro (Bantog) and Rodolfo Supan (Sta. Catalina), all in Tarlac City, said the battalion has no record of abuses or violations.
Their views were shared by Barangay Captains Esmerandy Salas (Pando), Alfonso Macaspac (Parang) Manuel Pangilinan (Mabilog) in Concepcion town and Rolando Dizon (Motrico) in La Paz town.
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