Friday, March 19, 2010

Aquinos Have No Right To Sell Hacienda Luisita

Sentro para sa Tunay na
Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA)
20-C Maaralin St.,
Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City Telefax 434-6957

March 16, 2010

Reference: ATTY. JOBERT ILARDE PAHILGA, Executive Trustee

Noynoy is either confused or lying; Aquinos have no right to sell Hacienda Luisita

The statement of presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino that they would have earned billions of pesos if they had sold Hacienda Luisita belies his claim that he has only less than 1% share in it. This only shows that Aquino has not been upright all along on the Luisita issue according to Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, the Executive Trustee of Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA) and lawyer of the farm workers of the hacienda.

As owners of the land, the Aquinos would have been paid by the government for its value but they opted to place the same under the Stock Distribution Option. This only shows that they have no intention to let go of their control of the land.

According to Pahilga, since the hacienda has been covered by the agrarian reform program, ownership over the same should have been transferred to the farmworkers. Hence, the family of Senator Aquino could not just sell the land without the consent of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the farm workers.

"The farm workers' equity in the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated is the land, which constitute 33% of the total equity of the corporation. As such, Aquino has no right to claim ownership of the land much more that they are entitled to 70% share if the land is sold" said Pahilga.

So where did Noynoy base his claim that they will have 70% share in the proceeds of the sale of the hacienda? Did he forget his earlier claim that he and his family have only minor share in the hacienda?

"The problem with Senator Aquino is that he is evading the Hacienda Luisita issue and his act of evasion has only immersed him in statements that indicate that he is either confused or lying.

If he said that they can sell the land, then they can very well have it distributed to their farm workers who have been tilling the same for years. The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) has already ordered the distribution of the land to the farm workers and the revocation of the stock distribution option (SDO), yet, the family of Noynoy prevented the implementation of the order by going to the Supreme Court and asking for an injunction.

And if Senator Aquino has forgotten, it was the peoples' money that was used by his family to buy the hacienda with the condition that it should be given to the farm workers. He should not therefore claim that his family is the rightful owner of the land because it is the farm workers." Added Pahilga

"Before Senator Aquino presents his self as saviour of our country, he should first clean up the mess in his own backyard. He should first settle the Hacienda Luisita issue. His decisiveness on this issue will reflect his political will on the age-old problem of landlessness and unequal distribution of wealth besetting the country.

If he is truly concerned of the plight of the farm workers as he made himself out to be, he would have held no escapist thought about selling the land. He would have seen that their only choice is to give the land to the farm workers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Call to Stop the Distortion and Commercialization of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Festival

Press Statement
12 March 2010

Katribu Partylist – Northern Mindanao, an indigenous peoples sectoral party, expresses disappointment over the distortion of Lumad culture during the recently concluded Kaamulan Festival held last February 18 – March 10, 2010 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The inappropriate and insensitive use of rituals, dances, and costumes and the prevalent commercialization in the Kaamulan has been a blatant mockery of Lumad culture and the festival’s history.

Rituals that are considered sacred and private are shown publicly at the city streets and the provincial plaza. To cite some, the Igbabasok and Pagologdok are rituals done before harvest and hunting respectively. These are supposedly observed at appropriate venues such as ricefields and forests and not on the streets. Pamalas or the lumad wedding ceremony was depicted with actors playing as husband and wife which bastardizes the rite and is strictly prohibited under the Lumad law.

Some non-lumad locals and tourists were seen wearing traditional indigenous garbs. These costumes and accessories were supposedly exclusive garments for traditional leaders such as the Datu and the Bai. Regrettably, these were commercially sold at booths around the festival grounds.

Street dancing, being one of the major crowd drawers of the festival, has showcased dances with inappropriate choreography. The Saot or war dance was depicted out of context. This wrong presentation has highlighted lumads as violent and barbaric people.

Traditionally, the Sibog and Bayle are the only accepted traditional dances for festivals.
“Kaamulan” is from the Lumad word “amul” which means “to gather”. It is an ethnic festival that annually celebrates the customs and traditions of the seven tribal groups that originally inhabited the Bukidnon region, namely, the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon.

Yet through the years, the festival has increasingly become more commercialized and less ethnic. Bazaars, concerts with celebrities, motocross, basketball and airsoft tournaments are just a few examples of events that have nothing to do with the celebration of the culture of the lumads.

Any inappropriate use of indigenous culture not only offends the sensitivities but also demeans the integrity of indigenous customs and traditions which lumads passionately defend together with their rights to ancestral land and self-determination.

Katribu Partylist – Northen Mindanao strongly calls for the rectification of the errors and the restoration of the real essence in the Kaamulan Festival that would not only celebrate indigenous culture but would contribute to address the real concerns of the IPs for recognition, self governance, and economic sustainability. ###

Datu Jomorito Goaynon
Regional Coordinator, Katribu Partylist – NMR