Thursday, March 03, 2005

NR0305:Probe Cojuangcos in Ladera killing

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release March 4, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Councilor Ladera murder a desperate crime against Tarlac's toiling masses,
Investigation should probe possible link of Cojuangcos, gov't to killing

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran said that the cold-blood murder of Tarlac City councilor Abelardo Rosal Ladera yesterday in San Miguel, Tarlac City is a crime against all underrepresented and disenfranchised Filipinos. Ladera, 43 years old and a resident of Barangay Balite, Hacienda Luisita, was felled by a single bullet shot into his chest by still unidentified assailants.

"Councilor Ladera's death is an immense loss not only to his family, but also to his community, and the entire Filipino masses. He was a progressive public servant staunchly committed to defending the demands of the toiling masses who comprise the majority in this country. He was one of the few elected leaders who supported the struggles of the farm-workers and workers currently on strike at the Hacienda Luisita, taking an active part in the negotiation process and sponsoring resolutions at the City Council pushing for a Congressional review of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme at the Hacienda Luisita," he said.

Beltran said that the crime committed by Ladera's murderers is not simply a case of unjustifiably taking away the life of one man: it is likewise a crime against the Filipino masses who deserve to have their rights to land, life, and wages justly represented and defended by their elected officials.

"It seems to be a crime of desperation by entities that would greatly benefit from the silence and complicity of local politicians in projects and policies that privilege profit and power over the welfare of the province's poverty-stricken population. Ladera's murder is a grim sign that the Luisita-related bloodshed has not ended," he said.

"Who are the masterminds? Who stands to benefit from the elimination of a progressive local leader such as Ladera? These are the points that the current investigation should expose. The fact that Ladera was felled by a precise, single shot to the heart clearly points out that this was not an accidental or reckless crime. On the contrary, it seems to be an extension of the bloodshed trailing the Hacienda Luisita's picket lines: from the internationally-condemned massacre of seven strikers on November 16, 2004, to the killing of local peasant leader, key witness to the massacre and Anakpawis provincial Vice-Chairperson Marcelino Beltran, to the shooting of two strikers by suspected Cojuangco aides at the picket line last January," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that Ladera's murder is an ominous sign of more crimes to come. "It underscores the wave of violent repression faced by progressive individuals and organizations under the current administration. As a party list duly elected by the Filipino people, Anakpawis registers the apprehension that such murders and harassment of local elected leaders will escalate as part of the repression against progressive and militant organizations. This is a fear founded on concrete historical events.'

"We recall previous declarations by Northern Luzon Command commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo early this year that the Hacienda Luisita strike was now an issue of "national security", citing magical "military intelligence" reports of infiltration by communist rebels under the New Peoples' Army -conjuring an entire "list" of supportive groups and individuals who have expressed support for the strike, including Anakpawis Party List and Councilor Ladera. It is not easy to dismiss as sheer coincidence that already, the Anakpawis Vice-Chairperson for Tarlac and and Councilor Ladera himself have died under extremely suspect circumstances. It is not easy to shrug off the fact that many Anakpawis leaders and progressive local elected leaders have suspiciously been murdered one after the other in other regions and provinces, such as Mindoro in the Southern Tagalog region," he concluded.#


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