Farmers set to march vs Luisita vote
MANILA, Philippines—Militant farmers are set to stage a protest today (Monday) to seek the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) support against the Supreme Court’s order to hold a referendum on the land ownership dispute at Hacienda Luisita.
Farmers groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) also called on peasant groups across the country to hold “sympathy protests” in support of the Luisita farmers “to send the strongest political condemnation for the Supreme Court-ordered referendum.
“We reiterate our demand to the DAR not to insist on the high court’s referendum order. It should not be a party to the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ continuing injustice against the Luisita farmers,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a statement.
Some 100 militant farmers are set to march on the DAR offices in Quezon City today hoping to get its support for the farmers’ boycott of a referendum.
The groups earlier criticized President Aquino for keeping silent on the land dispute which involves his family. The sugar estate belongs to the Cojuangco family.
“The Supreme Court-ordered referendum in the Hacienda Luisita agrarian dispute defines the kind of agrarian reform under the Aquino administration. This prolandlord decision will definitely have a domino effect on all agrarian disputes across the country,” said Ramos.
UMA also scored the DAR’s silence on the issue, saying it “appears to be in collusion with the President” in keeping quiet.
“Hacienda Luisita farmers will fight tooth and nail to assert our rights to the land. We will defy the pro-Cojuangco referendum,” said UMA chair Lito Bais, also acting president of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu).
Ramos urged KMP chapters to support the Luisita farmers and stage protests in the run-up to Mr. Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 25.
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