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Filipinos in the U.S. support genuine justice for Hacienda Luisita workers by intensifying call to oust Arroyo: Statement of BAYAN USA on 1st anniversary commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre November 16th, 2005

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On November 16th 2005, BAYAN USA, Filipinos and allies across the US memorialize the 7 martyrs of the Central Luzon Hacienda Luisita massacre along with the 4,207 Filipinos throughout the nation who were documented victims of severe human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime (GMA). BAYAN USA vehemently denounces the actions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and paramilitary units under Arroyo’s command who one year ago today opened fire on 5000 unarmed and legitimate strikers with machine guns and rifles killing Jhavie Basilio, Jun David, Juancho Sanchez, Jesus Laza, Jimmy Pastidio, Adriano Caballero and Jessie Valdez. The massacre, which is the most violent picket line dispersal in Philippine history, is not an isolated incident and is a crimson representation of the state repression that has intensified throughout the nation under the Arroyo regime. It is a regime that must and will come to an end in order for genuine justice for the Hacienda Luisita workers to be made possible.

The recent career and deployment of Brigadier General Jovito Palparan to central Luzon confirms the Arroyo regime’s belligerent and dictatorial character in response to the mass protest of the Filipino people. Palparan’s incorrigible record is numbered red accounting for 30 victims of killings in Mindoro Oriental during his assignment as commander of the 204th IB in May 2001 to April 2003; 25 deaths in Eastern Visayas heading the 8th ID from February to August 2005, and 19 from September up to present directing the 7th ID in Central Luzon. The most recent occurred on October 25th, where Ricardo Ramos, president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU)in Hacienda Luisita was shot in the head by a still unidentified gunman at his home. CATLU issued a statement exposing the Arroyo government and Gen. Jovito Palparan leadership in the spate of killings inside the hacienda. Arroyo continues to promote and reassign Palparan despite numerous cases filed against him with the Joint Monitoring Committee between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Arroyo’s intent is clear. She aims to suppress dissent by murdering mass organizers and justifying her actions claiming the victims are members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). The post 9/11 placement of the NPA on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list feeds the illusion that the GRP’s violent and indiscriminate campaign against the NPA is just. The United Nations Philippine Human Development Report attacks the U.S. listing stating the NPA’s “historical record of armed struggle has not engaged in terrorism or acts of terrorism” The reality is parallel to the U.S. led “War on Terror.” There is no legitimate justification. The real intent is to assert military control to maintain the interests of a morally bankrupt and falling president over the organized legal mass protest of struggling people. Palparan, serving under his commander and chief, is not targeting the NPA; he is targeting civilian mass organizers like Ricardo Ramos and the numerous other victims who play a crucial role in leading Filipinos to rise above the Philippines long standing state of oppression and government sponsored terror.

One year after the massacre at Hacienda Luisita, the situation has not improved and the strike continues. But the people’s movement against Arroyo and the Cojuanco clan is stronger than ever before. CATLU along with the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) are united in their fight against one of the lowest take home pays ever recorded in world history; P9 a day (U.S.$0.16). After Aquino replaced Marcos, the sham of resolving the nation’s primary domestic issue, widespread landlessness, placated the militancy of the Filipino people. In1988, Aquino approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act (CARP) which stipulated the land of Hacienda Luisita be redistributed to the farm workers. Instead, Cory Cojuangco Aquino, whose family owns the sugar estate, implemented the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which distributed shares of stocks to the farm workers instead of following the law and distributing the land to the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita. Almost two decades later, the people are still fighting for their right to a decent livelihood against GMA and her oppressive minions.

Arroyo’s desperate claim to her illegitimate power responds to popular 85% disapproval rate with intensified killings and 20 recent abductions in Hacienda Luisita. It is clear that Arroyo’s blood-hungry appetite for new leadership aims particularly at ULWU president Rene Galang, whose life is under the constant and clear threat of military abduction, torture, and assassination. Without the unbreakable resolve and thirst for justice put into action by the striking workers integrated with the Filipino people’s movement, Arroyo’s true anti-people character would cease to be vigilantly exposed. It is this movement that is rapidly blocking air to her suffocating regime.

The struggle of the workers in Hacienda Luisita is one with the struggle of oppressed peoples all over the world. It is a struggle Filipinos in the US– whose history is forever linked to the struggle for land and wage carried by US Filipino farm workers Bulosan, Itliong, Mensalvas, and Vera Cruz–support wholeheartedly. From joining the ranks of the hacienda picket lines to organizing the ranks of our Filipino workers here in the US, Filipino-Americans will not cease to actively participate in the Filipino people’s call for justice by intensifying its call to oust the number one enemy of the workers of Hacienda Luisita and the Filipino people–Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We further intensify our demand for complete withdrawal of US support–moral, economic, and military–to this murderous dictatorship.