MANILA, July 29, 2011—The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) urged the Office of the Ombudsman to re-open the seven year old Hacienda Luisita Massacre case and bring to justice those accountable for the killing of farmers.
On November 17, 2004, more than 10 people died when striking farm-workers and farmers of Hacienda Luisita were violently dispersed by the military and local law enforcers.
In a statement, AMBALA spokesperson Rodel Mesa said, it is about time to put a closure on the murder case, involving some elements of the local police and the military.
“Almost seven years had passed, not a single government and state forces official had been held liable on the demise of seven striking farm workers and for the wounding of a hundred more [farm-workers] when military open[ed] fire on the farm workers who held a picket line in front of the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac to demand the stalled CBA and the retrenchment of almost 320 members and newly elected ULWU officials,” Mesa said.
“Justice should be served on the seven martyrs of Hacienda Luisita who fought for the rights of 6,000 farm workers denied of their jobs and dignities at the costs of their lives on that fateful day of November 16, 2004,” he added.
Even though she had already stepped down from her office, former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez had been assailed for alleged inaction on the case, despite there were proofs that military had a hand on the massacre.
“For years never, she never took action in our case despite the countless protests and filing of motion to re-investigate it. She literally sat [on] our case and leaving it to produced dust in her office along with other cases we filed against her boss Gloria Arroyo, like the fertilizer and the ice making machines,” said Mesa.
Now, the farm-workers pin their hope to the newly appointed Ombudsman, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Conchita Carpio-Morales and they pray that the justice would soon be served as Carpio-Morales is known for her said to be “pro-people” decisions.
“We hope that former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales would make a difference. There is no closure and justice without accountability to those who are involved in perpetuating the massacre that includes primarily the former president Gloria Arroyo as the commander-in-chief, former labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, former police Chief Edgardo Aglipay, former army Chief Hermogenes Esperon and of course the Cojuangco-Aquino’s,” the peasant leader said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)