New York — On Monday, November 16, 2015, members of BAYAN USA, an alliance of 20 progressive and anti-imperialist grassroots Filipino organizations, delivered “coffins” to the Philippine Consulate in New York City to commemorate the 11th Anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. For over a decade, no one has been held accountable for the violent atrocities that occurred when Philippine police and military forces opened fire on thousands of striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita, one of the largest sugarcane plantations owned and operated by the Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s family, killing seven people and wounding hundreds. The demonstrators broadly demanded justice for the fallen victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and all victims of state and political repression, and an overhaul of the feudal agricultural economy of the Philippines through genuine agrarian reform.
In addition to honoring the martyrs of the massacre, the coffins symbolized the dead promises of good governance that President Aquino made when he stepped into office almost 6 years ago. “Throughout his administration, he and his big landlord family have continued to trample on the people’s basic human rights with deadly violence and neglect and wreaked havoc on peasant communities all over the nation and in Lumad communities in Mindanao,” said Jackelyn Mariano, Chairperson of New York Committee of Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). During Aquino’s administration alone, there have been nearly 300 extrajudicial killings of unarmed activists and community members, mostly from the peasant sector of the Philippines which makes up 75% of the country’s population. Peasant and indigenous communities are often targeted with military violence for the purpose of silencing dissent against foreign large-scale mining, logging, and agribusiness operations, to which the Aquino administration has granted priority access to land and development.
Mariano added, “We are here to demand justice for the people of Hacienda Luisita who have been denied their land by Aquino and his family the Cojuangcos for over half a century, at the expense of the majority of Filipinos’ rights to a decent livelihood. We are also here to demand justice for the indigenous Lumad people in Mindanao who face similar abuses today, as multinational corporations speculate and steal their land.”
“The Hacienda Luisita Massacre is one example of how globalization, capitalism, and neoliberal economic policy exploit the masses in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Felipe Asuncion, Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA Northeast.
Such neoliberal policies are continued to be pushed today by the Philippine ruling elite and the US puppet master. On November 18-19 the Philippines will be hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. This is where 21 world leaders and big business magnates decide how to liberalize and globalize policies in the Asia Pacific region of the world.
Asuncion added, “The decisions made by state and business leaders at APEC make significant and violent impacts on the migration of people and resources, turning public services over to private control, and loosening regulations that protect the environment, workers’ rights, and the sovereignty of countries in the global south.”
The rally ended with a solemn moment of silence for all victims of state repression in the Philippines. BAYAN USA Northeast calls upon the New York community to continue the fight against imperialism and to join their anti-APEC demonstration in front of the Philippine Consulate on November 17th at 5:30 PM.
Justice for the Victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre!
Redistribute Hacienda Luisita to the Farmers Now!
Genuine Agrarian Reform Now!
Defend Indigenous Rights to Ancestral Land!
Stop Lumad Killings!