Friday, December 10, 2004

NR1117: Fire Sto.Tomas for Luisita Massacre

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release November 17 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Fire Sto. Tomas for issuing unjustified return-to-work order against
Hacienda Luisita Workers; Rep Noynoy Aquino a disappointment as he tries to
justify attack against strikers that led to eight deaths

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today demanded the immediate
resignation of Patricia Sto. Tomas, saying that the return-to-work order she
issued against the striking workers and farmworkers of the Cojuangco-Aquino
owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac was used as the basis for the army assault
that left eight workers dead and tens of others seriously injured. He demanded
the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should in no uncertain terms remove Sto.
Tomas from her post.

"Sto. Tomas has once more proven her mettle as a viciously anti-worker
bureaucrats protector of the economic interest of employers and capitalists,
including land owners. She has played an infamous role in this massacre, and
she should be made responsible, along with the Cojuangcos led by
ex-Congressman Peping and current Deputy speaker Noynoy Aquino," he said. "She
should be investigated for this latest anti-worker caper of hers that resulted
in so many deaths. She has blood on her hands, and she is as responsible for
the deaths as the Cojuangcos."

Beltran said that Sto. Tomas' decision to lay down the return to work order
was out of line, and cannot be justified. "The negotiations between the
Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) crashed and burned because of
the stubbornness and hard-heartedness of the Cojuangcos. Sto. Tomas' RTW
order was deliberately and transparently biased in favor of the Cojuangcos,
disregarding the stand and position of the workers who were still very open
to negotiations and a principled, dignified compromise."

Beltran said that as labor secretary, Sto. Tomas has also turned a blind eye to
the deployment of troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and
the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the strike area. He said that no
doubt, Sto. Tomas was invoking the recently drawn memorandum of agreement
(MOA) between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department
of Interior and Local Government (DILG) allowing LGUs to take action regarding
labor disputes that take place within the areas of their jurisdiction.

Last September 6, 2004, the DOLE signed the implementing rules and regulations
(IRR) operationalizing the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that defines the terms
of cooperation between the agencies in supposedly promoting industrial peace and
labor standards in workplaces nationwide.

"In short, it was the Cojuangcos who called for police and military back-up.
What right have they to call on and order the AFP and PNP to protect their
property and violate the labor and human rights of strikers ? Sto . Tomas
and the Cojuangcos colluded against the strikers and should be roundly
denounced for being the masterminds of the violence that erupted yesterday,"
he said.

In the meantime, Beltran shook his head at the conduct of Deputy Speaker Noynoy
Aquino and his words yesterday in plenary when he defended his family's stand
against the strike. "Rep. Aquino has been acting as the spokesperson of the
Cojuangcos and as part of the management. There is no other way to interpret
his words last night but as a defense and justification of the violence the AFP
and PNP unleashed against the unarmed workers. As a representative of his
district, it should have been his duty to protect the interest of his
constituents, who also happened to be workers in his family's hacienda. Last
night, Rep. Aquino was a true disappointment as he sought to discredit the
strike, malign the union, and justify the army assault against the
workers," he said.#


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