WHO IS USING THE HACIENDA LUISITA 'CONTROVERSY' AS A TOOL FOR POLITICS?
Alexander Martin Remollino
When I interviewed 32-year-old Maribel Valdez on Nov. 16, 2009, during the fifth anniversary of what is now known as the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, she was not saying national candidates and "left-leaning groups" were using the issue as a "black propaganda ploy" against Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, the Philippines’ leading presidential candidate, whose family claims ownership of the 6,453-hectare land encompassing several villages in Tarlac. She was not saying she and her family were "beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita."
Hacienda Luisita was, in late 2004, the scene of a bloody confrontation arising from its supposed owners’ refusal to grant farm and mill workers’ demands for higher wages and additional work days, hospital benefits, and land redistribution. Seven strikers –- Jesus Laza, Jhaivie Basilio, Juancho Sanchez, Jessie Valdez, Jun David, Jaime Pastidio, and Adriano Caballero –- lost their lives on Nov. 16 that year, when a combined police and military contingent fired upon the picket line. A hundred and eighty-one more were wounded.
Maribel was pregnant with their fourth child when her husband Jessie was killed. During our interview, she said she had become the sole breadwinner for herself and the children, earning a living by planting rice in her native Isabela, where they moved shortly after the massacre... READ FULL ARTICLE