14 DEAD, 133 ARRESTED, HUNDREDS MISSING IN THE VIOLENT DISPERSAL OF HACIENDA LUISITA STRIKE All they wanted is to own a piece of land to till for a living. What they got was a piece of mound to lay their bodies to rest till eternity. In a violent strike dispersal in Hacienda Luisita last November 16, 2004, 14 people were killed, including two children aged 2 and 5 years old who died from suffocation from teargas lobbed by the police and army dispersal teams. One of the victims was allegedly strangled after being shot and his dead body hanged in the factory’s gate. At least 35 people were reported to have sustained gunshot wounds, 133 were arrested and detained, hundreds were wounded and another hundred still missing. The carnage is a gruesome reminder of the infamous Mendiola Massacre and Lupao Massacre, which also arose from the peasants demand to own their land. Nine (9) of those killed in what is now called as the Hacienda Luisita Massacre were identified as Jun David, Adriano Caballero, Jhaivie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Jaime Pastidio, Juancho Sanchez, Neng Balete, Boy Versola and Jessie Valdez. Of the 133 arrested, 117 were detained at Camp Macabulos in Tarlac while 16 people were detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) - Tarlac. Majority of those arrested were released only yesterday. The melee erupted at around 3:20 p.m., after the dispersal team of the Tarlac police under the command of Chief Supt. Quirino dela Torre and with the support of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) forcibly broke the workers’ picketline in front of Hacienda Luisita. The police said they merely followed the order of Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas who deputized the Nolcom in enforcing at all means the Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (D0LE). The DOLE order calls for a return-to-work order and a free ingress-egress. It deputized the Tarlac police to implement the order. As if in a war zone, three (3) armored personnel carrier (APC), several fire trucks and 10 military trucks were stationed in the area to allegedly assist the police in enforcing the AJ. Elements of the 69th and 703rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were also deployed in the area. Combined elements of hundreds of military and police forces with high-powered firearms attacked the picketing workers and thousands of its supporters. As the APC rammed into the workers’ barricade, the military and police repeatedly used water cannons, high-powered rifles, truncheons and teargas to disperse the strikers and their supporters and to eventually open the factory gates. Workers’ strike for land, wages and jobs
More than 5,000 sugar mill workers and sugarcane farmers of Hacienda Luisita went on strike last Nov. 6. Members of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) barricaded the factory's Gate 2 while members of the United Luisita Workers' Union (ULWU) simultaneously locked up the mill's Gate 1. CATLU is the employees union while ULWU is the farmworkers union. The strike arose from the deadlock in the negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between CATLU and Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) and the illegal dismissal of 327 farm workers belonging to ULWU last Oct. 1. Among those illegally dismissed were ULWU president and vice president, Rene Galang and Ildefonso Pingul, respectively, and eight other union officers. On its part, CATLU demands a P100 (US$ 1.78) salary increase and hospitalization benefits. But the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) management said that it can only provide a measly P12 wage hike and a P12,000 bonus. Series of negotiations ensued between CATLU and the management but the latter stood pat on its decision thereby resulting in a deadlock. More than the issue of wage and jobs, land distribution remains to be the major demand of Hacienda Luisita workers. The workers, led by ULWU, are calling for the scrapping of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), which...
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