Farmworkers from four out of ten barangays in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac trooped to the Department of Justice yesterday, October 10, to file over a hundred criminal complaints against the Cojuangco-Aquino family and their henchmen in the local police, as well as officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The complaints totalled more than a hundred accounts of violent assaults against the declared farmer-beneficiaries of the sugar estate.
Members of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and lawyers from the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA), National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), and the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE) led the farmers in filing complaints of attempted murder, arson, child abuse, physical injuries, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, theft, robbery, and malicious mischief.
One of the complainants was Rosario ‘Rudy’ Corpuz, who was struck on the head with a hammer by Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) workers in March this year. “Sana pakinggan kami ng Department of Justice. Ang dami nang kasalanan ng mga Cojuangco-Aquino sa amin. Ang tagal na rin naming naghihintay, sampung taon na,” Corpuz said, referring to the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in November 2004.
The respondents in the criminal complaints are President Aquino’s uncle Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, Jr., sister Maria Elena ‘Ballsy’ Aquino-Cruz, other directors of TADECO, Aquino ally Virginia Torres, Tarlac PNP Provincial Director Alex Sintin, and former Tarlac City PNP Chief Bayani Razalan.
In January this year, DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan gave his promise of creating a special panel to investigate cases in Hacienda Luisita, but the said panel has not yet been created. In the nine months that have passed, crops have been bulldozed, huts have been burned, and farmers have been assaulted and arrested, while the Cojuangco-Aquinos continually file trumped-up harassment suits against the farmers.
“Nawala na sa publiko ang usapin ng mas malaking hacienda; ang napapag-usapan ngayon ang Hacienda Binay at Hacienda Purisima. Dapat hindi mawala sa madla ang usapin ng pinakamalaking hacienda sa pinaka-maimpluwensiyang mga tao ngayon sa ating bansa, ang pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino. Sana ay magkaroon na ng imbestigasyon at magkaroon na ng hustisya sa Hacienda Luisita,” appealed Atty. Jobert Pahilga of SENTRA.
Photos and text by Erika Cruz