Beyond the Picket Line: Remembering the Hacienda Luisita Massacre
By Ruthie Tan
Hypocrisy in the Democracy
It has been 34 years after the Marcos regime. Everyone saw hope and democracy towards a lady with dignity and stand in building a new nation from the pile of blood. The nation believed that everything will change when they knew that a lady widow, whom her husband is considered a hero; beat a dictator. The sympathy of the Filipinos prevailed, and many grew complacent about what the administration has to offer. However, people never knew that each leader is only changing faces and never their intention. 18 years after, in November 2004, this dictator and the widow had no difference at all.
November 16, 2004 — The hypocrisy of democracy is proven. The late president Corazon Aquino is a Cojuangco — the Cojuangco that is one of the bureaucrat capitalists and landlords in the country, particularly in the province of Tarlac. Under the Corazon Aquino administration, the 1987 Constitution was established. A constitution that gave the Philippine nation human rights, protection, and national sovereignty. But behind this constitution is the oppression against the workers and farmers; laws such as (1) Comprehensive Agrarian Reform that only made the Hacienda Luisita farmers as stock-holder of the land but not as their own. Also, the Hacienda Luisita land grabbing is legalized. (2) Herrera Law, under this, is the Assumption of Jurisdiction order that served as the basis for the swift deployment of police and military forces in companies with labor disputes — a legal government crackdown that was demonstrated during the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Assumption of Jurisdiction is clearly a fascist government instrument to quell democratic actions of unions.
The Hacienda Luisita Incorporated implemented the Stock Distribution Order (SDO), which would purportedly distribute shares of the capital of the hacienda to the farmworkers. Farmers were forced to vote in favor of SDO since they were threatened to lose their jobs. Oppression arises when the hacienda was placed under the land-use conversion that meant massive job loss and the eviction of the people inside the hacienda. 500 workers have lost their job. Wages from 194.50 pesos a day, which is much lower than the minimum wage became 9.50 pesos because of various deductions and debts.
Consistent Reverse Triangle
The constant labor abuse of the Cojuangcos towards their workers and farmers strengthened the 5,000 farmworker’s unity and built their courage to established labor unions such as the Central Azucarera De Tarlac Labor Union with 500 laborers (CATLU) and United Hacienda Luisita Workers Union (ULWU). Their Collective Bargaining Agreement demands an increase of additional wages, benefits, and workdays for the farmworkers, the repeal of the SDO, and the termination of the land-use conversion inside the hacienda.
The Cojuancos never considered and hear out the formal requests of the workers, instead they terminated and dismissed 326 members of the unions, including its officers. The workers had no choice but to simultaneously strike-through picket lines and banners that demands their labor rights. Operations inside the sugar mill and plantation were decisively paralyzed. These actions proved that the farmers and workers are the real forces behind the production. But only violence, injuries, and deaths are the response of the bureaucrat capitalists.
In the socialist and classless society of Karl Marx on his reverse triangle of the society, workers are the first people who will prevail the society, and the second is the farmers. Socialism is best defined in contrast with capitalism, exploitation of workers, and alienation of products. The socialist’s principles that must prevail inside the society working-class: (1) Equality is construed by its opportunity in a luck-egalitarian way, as requiring the neutralization of inequalities of access to the advantage that results from people’s circumstances rather than their choices. Farmers and workers of the hacienda and azucarera have different consequences that they face in their work-life, depending on this, different versions of inequality must be possessed for their own good and able to function well as laborers and farmers. (2) Democracy, which the Corazon Aquino administration was prominently known for but never fulfilled, should be present in the socialist community not just in the governmental institutions but also in various economic areas such as within a private firm. Democracy should be implemented in any various forms may it be inside a business, private company, and institutions. (3) Socialism is also focused on self-realization by featuring people’s development and exercise their creative and productive capacities, especially at work. Lastly, (4) socialism affirms the idea of solidarity, to which people will organize their economic life, thus they treat the freedom and well-being of others as intrinsically significant.
Bringing back the past
The Cojuangcos are still alive and continuously exploits and oppressing laborers and farmers. Commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita and Mendiola massacre is the only thing that is happening, but the injustice is still present. Justice for the farmers and workers’ death was never served. The legal process must take place, but only a few dared to do so.