Friday, December 10, 2004

NR1130: Withdraw troops from Luisita

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release November 30 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran demands that PGMA order withdrawal of troops from Hacienda
Luisita; chides president for bias for Cojuangco-Aquino family

On the resumption of the congressional and senate hearings on the Hacienda
Luisita Massacre and the issues surrounding the labor dispute within the
Cojuangco-owned sugar plantation, Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran once more
challenged former Pres. Corazon Aquino to do more than just pray for the
victims of the massacre and their families. He also demanded that Pres. Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo immediately call for the withdrawal of all police and
military forces from the Hacienda.

"Despite the ongoing instigations, the Hacienda and the immediate surrounding
communities where the workers and farmworkers and their families live are
still militarized," he said. "Pre. Arroyo should order the Philippine National
Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to withdraw from
Luisita. They have no business protecting private property - nevermind if the
property belongs to the family an ex-president."

Beltran said that the Hacienda Luisita massacre is a stark reminder of how the
powerful and influential families in the country continue to use their wealth
and influence to protect and secure economic interest even to the extent of
violating inalienable human and labor rights. "The Cojuangcos will not submit
to even the modest agrarian reform laws passed by former President Cory
Aquino's own regime in 1988. They have manipulated and twisted one of the few
laws that aimed to give the land back to the tillers," he said.

"Luisita is a symbol of the determination of the entrenched elite and wealthy
minority to perpetuate the inequality of poverty of the Philippine peasantry.
The massacre of November 16, 2004, demonstrates how far the ruling class will
go to protect their privilege and wealth, using the armed forces of the
police and military as their private army in this task," he said.

Clip the powers of the Labor Secretary

Beltran said that the members of the Committees on Human Rights, Labor, and
Agrarian Reform should express their opposition to the re-appointment of
Patricia Sto. Tomas to the Department of Labor. He said that the DOLE led by
Sto. Tomas was instrumental in sending in the Tarlac police under the command
of Chief Supt. Quirino de la Torre and elements of the 69th and 703rd Infantry
Battalion of the Philippine Army, backed by three armored personnel carriers,
several fire trucks and 10 military trucks against unarmed and peaceful workers
expressing their legitimate demands.

The veteran labor leader said that he will file a bill clipping the powers of
the labor secretary, particularly his/her authority to impose assumption of
jurisdiction orders (AJs) indiscrimination; as well as the DOLE's authority to
deputize police and military to interfere in labor disputes.

"It's long overdue that the office of the DOLE secretary be subjected to full
investigations because of its record of abusing power. Sto. Tomas, in
particular, has abused her authority countless times- settling labor disputes
in grossly in favor of employers, regardless of the damaging impact on the
labor rights and job security of workers," he said.#


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