Letter to the Editor | Ericson Acosta on the arrest of activists, land reform advocates in Hacienda Luisita

September 18, 2013

(Mula sa Hacienda Luisita Campaign Facebook account)

(Mula sa Hacienda Luisita Campaign Facebook account)

Activists, including a militant legislator, cultural workers and church people, were arrested yesterday in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac while conducting a fact-finding mission there. Among those still detained as of this writing is artist and former political prisoner Ericson Acosta. The group that helped campaign for his release in Samar, the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC), released Ericson’s series of text messages narrating the arrest and their ordeal:

We were charged with malicious mischief, illegal assembly, direct assault, and trespassing. I lost my slippers during the violent arrest and we were only read the Miranda rights at the police headquarters where we are currently detained.

With me arrested are Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap, Danilo Ramos of Anakpawis party-list, Florida Sibayan, acting chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), Sister Patricia Fox of the Zion Sisters, Kerima Tariman, Rene Blazan, Karl Mae San Juan of Anakpawis, Ronald Matthew Gustillo, Luz Versola, Pong Sibayan of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA),

Walking back to Balete, where the picket line of the farm-workers is located, we were violently arrested upon the order Supt. Razalan. The arresting police force consisted of seven armed men in plain clothing and armed supervisors of Cojuanco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation.

Four women were injured during the arrest including AMBALA acting chair Florida Sibayan, who passed out and incurred a head contusion.

We were practically arrested by the Cojuanco-Aquino family to hide the anomalous and violent implementation of a flawed land distribution scheme.

If the police will not drop charges against us, we will remain here for the night as it is Makabulos Day.

In a desperate move to maintain its illegal and contested ownership of the more than 6000-hectare Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuanco-Aquino family mobilizes the repressive forces of the police and military to terrorize and inflict violence on land reform advocates and famers.

Hacienda Luisita has historically been the economic base upon which the Cojuanco-Aquino built and maintained its political power. With the Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution of this vast land to the farm-workers, the Conjuanco-Aquino family, through no less than President Benigno Aquino III, continues to wield its political power to enforce fascism against the farm-workers and advocates of genuine land reform advocates.