MANILA, Philippines — Hacienda Luisita farmers were forcibly evicted from their huts late Sunday night by more than 100 men led by a barangay captain allegedly connected to the Aquino-Cojuangco family, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
The KMP said the men also fired gunshots.
In a statement Sunday, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) Chairperson Florida Sibayan said that the men, all drunk, attacked them and shot at them around 9 p.m. The men are currently occupying their huts, Sibayan added. In another statement, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) Secretary General Danilo Ramos said the tensions between the group of Lourdes Barangay Captain Edison Diaz and farmers at Sitio Silangan, Barangay Mapalacsiao began last November 25.
Ramos said that Mapalacsiao farmers have been threatened by men sent by Cojuangco aides "to justify and effect the reconcentration of lands back to the control of landlords."
In 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita, a prime sugar estate in Tarlac owned by the Cojuangco clan, to farm workers after it earlier declared illegal the stock distribution option implemented in the hacienda during the term of former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.
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UMA also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take a concrete action on the Hacienda Luisita issue. The group asked the president to investigate the controversial raffle scheme conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) during the previous administration to implement the SC order.
Meanwhile, the KMP called on current DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano to "decisively act on the ongoing volatile situation in Hacienda Luisita."