Saturday, November 27, 2004

Reviving the Aquino-Galman Murder Case: Smokescreen to the Hacienda Luisita Massacre - Beltran

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release/November 26 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602931-6615
Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Solon critical of motives behind moves to revive Aquino-Galman murder case; pushes for the reopening of investigations into Olalia-Alay-ay murders and Mendiola Massacre, among others.

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the moves to reopen the Aquino-Galman murder case were connected to the ongoing investigations on the Hacienda Luisita Massacre last November 16 which claimed the lives of 14 farmwrorkers and wounded scores of others. Beltran said that the Cojuangco family led by former congressman Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, former president Corazon C. Aquino and Tarlac 2nd District. Rep. Benigno C. Aquino III were trying to divert the public's attention from the brutality they ordered to be unleashed against the workers and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac, and turn the spotlight once more on the martyred Ninoy Aquino.

"It's impossible not to see a connection between these two developments. The investigations on the Luisita Massacre have been gaining headway and moving on towards the divulging of reasons why there is widespread discontent among the farmworkers and workers of Hacienda. The massacre is deeply rooted in the decades-long struggle for land and the Cojuangco's refusal to surrender what rightfully belongs to the thousands of farmworkers and their families. The Cojuangcos are deliberately trying to illicit sympathy from the public by reviving the Aquino-Galman case," he said.

Beltran said that if the martyred senator and acknowledged hero of the anti-dictatorship struggle were alive today, he would not have condoned what the Cojuangcos have done to the farmworkers.

"What is most important now is that not only should the perpetrators and masterminds of the Luisita Massacre be sacked and punished - among them labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas - but the roots of the land conflict in the Hacienda be arrived at.

The Stock Distribution Option (SDO) program in the Hacienda should be reviewed and then abolished, and the land genuinely and evenly distributed among all the farmworkers of the hacienda," he said.

The labor leader turned lawmaker said that if the Aquino-Galman case would be revived, then he is also pushing for the revival of the double-murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia and his aide, worker-activist Leonor Alay-ay who were both killed by the military in November 1996, a few months after Cory Aquino was installed in Malacanang.

"Ka Lando was became the president of the KMU after his father, Ka Bert Olalia died in 1983. He became the legal counsel of National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU). He also became the president, both of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), and Partido ng Bayan.

Because of his unflinching criticism of the continued exploitation that workers suffered even under the supposed 'revolutionary government' of President Corazon Aquino, Ka Lando like his father before him was targeted by military forces allied with the government.

Together with Alay-ay, Ka Lando was abducted on the night of November 13, 1986. The following day, their dead bodies were found. They bore signs of vicious torture. Ka Lando sustained four gunshots in the head, and six stab wounds in his torso. His mouth was stuffed with newspapers, his hands tied closely together with his own belt.

On the day of his burial, more than 600,000 workers and people from all walks of life joined the funeral march and demanded justice for his brutal murder. Work stoppages took place in 217 workplaces.

Beltran also said that the Mendiola Massacre case has not been resolved either - "Pres. Aquino did not push as hard as she should have for the resolution of the Mendiola Massacre, not even when it was made known that a large number of the participants to the rally that was attacked were from Tarlac and other provinces in Central Luzon." #

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