Hacienda Luisita workers asks Congress to reopen frustrated murder case vs. Noynoy

November 11, 2009 11:27 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 12 –- A group of workers from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac on Thursday appealed to the House of Representatives for the reopening of the investigation of a frustrated murder case of three farm hands of the estate.

The victims’ co-workers also said they were willing to testify that it was a security aide of Sen. and presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who had shot them at the gate of the disputed sprawling farmland.

At a press conference called by the embattled farmers at the Serye Restaurant at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City the other day, they accused Aquino of politicking in the 15,000-hectare farmland.

The farmers were supported by officers of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Kilusang Magbubid ng Pilipinas-Central Luzon (KMP-CL) and the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU).

They also accused the young Aquino of doing nothing to resolve the case and was even present when one of his security aides shot George Loveland, Ernesto Ramos and Malou Ricardo at the west gate of the hacienda on January 5, 2005.

According to Joseph Canlas, chairman of AMGL, and Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of KMP-CL, on that day, Loveland, Ramos and Ricardo were manning the west gate leading to the hacienda when Aquino, aboard his Nissan Patrol sport utility vehicle along with his security aides, passed through their picket line.

“Since they have to pass through our picket line going inside the hacienda, the Nissan Patarol had to pass through a checkpoint manned by Loveland, Ramos and Ricardo, and we saw Sen. Aquino inside the vehicle,” Canlas recalled.

He said the Nissan Patrol is also known to the workers as one of the service vehicles of Aquino, who was still a congressman then.

After a few minutes, Canlas said the same vehicle went out of the gate and after passing through the picket line, one of Aquino’s security aide alighted from the car and approached Loveland and his group while holding a .45 caliber pistol in his hand.

“What is it that you want to happen? Why are you blocking our car?” the security aide said in the vernacular, Canlas alleged.

He said the unnamed security aide then shot Ramos point blank, hitting him in the right side of his body and then turned on Loveland and Ricardo and also shot them before going back to the car which went inside the property.

Ocampo said he will talk to the farm workers and ask them if they are willing to issue a sworn affidavit and file it in court or in the House.

“They could make their statements official through a sworn affidavit which we could file with the proper court or even here at the lower House,” he said.

Ocampo, along with Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño, former Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador, Gabriela women’s party-list group Rep. Liza Maza, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Belran, had filed Resolution 583 during the 13th Congress, seeking an investigation into the shooting of Loveland and his group.

Such a violent incident is not an isolated case as several other cases of “harassment” allegedly staged by the estate’s armed guards, with picketing farm workers being shot and killed, has happened in the past.

These incidents stem from the dispute the farmers and the management of the hacienda have been locked on over the right to own the land after a court had ruled for the 15,000-hectare estate to be distributed to the workers in line with a law – the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) – that was ironically laid down during the term of President Corazon C. Aquino.

The owners of the Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuangco family, of which the late President Aquino is a member, has been making every effort to legally stall their compliance with the court ruling.

Meanwhile, the farmers also scored Noynoy for promising to resolve the land dispute once he is elected President next year.

In one of his recent speeches, the senator had promised to abide by the court ruling and distribute the lands in Hacienda Luisita to the farm workers "if he wins the presidency." (PNA)V3/JCA

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