Probe human rights violations in hacienda in Pampanga – Party-list solon

MANILA – Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap has called for a joint congressional inquiry into the spate of human rights violations in Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga.

In House Resolution No. 734, Hicap said the House Committees on Human Rights and Agrarian Reform should dig deep into the violence perpetrated against the members of the Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (ANMHD) who till the 2,099-hectare land planted with sugarcane, rice, banana and other crops.

“Spate of human rights violations in Hacienda Dolores bears similarities to human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita and other parts of the country wherein the farmer-victims were merely fighting for their right to own the land that they have been tilling for a long time,” Hicap said.

Hicap cited the death of ANMHD member Arman Padiño, the wounding of ANMHD members Noel Tumali, Jessel Orgas and Modesto Posadas and the arrest and imprisonment of ANMHD chairperson Antonio Tolentino and his son, Ener, as among the cases of human rights violations perpetrated against the farmers in Hacienda Dolores.

According to Hicap, Padiño was killed after security guards and goons allegedly employed by Leonardo Lachenal Leonio Holdings Inc. (LHI), FL Property Management Corp. (FL Corp.) and Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) fired at him, Tumali and another ANMHD member Reynold Tumali on January 12, 2014 while they were on their way to the farm in Upper Balukbuk, Hacienda Dolores at around 4 a.m.

Padino died in the hospital while Noel Tumali sustained gunshot wound on his leg, Hicap said.

Hicap said a security guard identified as Larry Sabado fired at Tolentino, who is also the Barangay Captain, and some village watchmen when they arrived at the place of the incident. Tolentino tried to grab the gun from Sabado but the latter overpowered him and hit his head with the gun.

Sabado was arrested by the barangay officials and brought him to Tolentino’s house. Sabado, however, escaped and was allegedly fetched and brought to the hospital by the members of the Philippine National Police.

On January 13, 2014, Tolentino and his son filed a complaint against Sabado at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office only to find out that the corporations claiming ownership of Hacienda Luisita have filed a complaint of slight physical injuries and three counts of grave threat against them. Tolentino and his son were arrested and subsequently detained at the Pampanga Provincial Office in the City of San Fernando.

On January 8, 2014, Tolentino’s son Ener was also arrested by two police officers while on his way to his farm, Hicap said.

In December 2013, Hicap said Orgas sustained wounds when a grenade was lobbed at his house. In the same month, Posadas sustained gunshot wounds when motorcycle-riding men shot him, Hicap added.

Prior to these, Hicap said, several cases of human rights violation have been committed against the farmers at Hacienda Dolores.

“It was revealed that since 2011, there were incidents of destruction and divestment of properties, illegal arrests, harassment, intimidation, coercion and recruitment of local folks and Aetas as goons,” Hicap said citing the fact-finding mission conducted by Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Karapatan – Central Luzon and other organizations in October 2013.

Hicap said there are also about five to ten checkpoints and some security posts with signage of “No Trespassing, Private Property” in the area.

Quoting the AMGL, Hicap said the human rights violations in Hacienda Dolores are rooted from the agrarian dispute between the farmers and land-grabbers.

“LHI is claiming ownership of over 298 hectares of land of Hacienda Dolores while FL Corp. is claiming ownership over 456 hectares of land of the hacienda. The two corporations, together with ALI, wanted the farmers to leave the hacienda to give way to an eco-residential and tourism project catering rich foreign and local businesses similar to Nuvali project in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna,” Hicap said.

Hicap said the farmers are fighting it out because they and their ancestors “have been cultivating the hacienda since 1835 and LHI and FL Corp. only asserted their claim of ownership over the land in 2005.”

“The two corporations prohibited the farmers from tilling their land for several months. Allegedly, the two corporations were mere dummies of ALI,” Hicap said. (PNA)

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