How terrible to read Shelley’s poem (not to mention the Egyptian peasant songs of 3,000 years ago), denouncing oppression and exploitation. Will they be read in a future still filled with oppression and exploitation, and will people say: “Even in those days”. –Bertol Brecht
Peping Cojuangco is right. There are non-workers in the picketline of Hacienda Luisita. But these “outsiders” are wives, sisters, brothers, children and family of the striking workers. When a worker loses his job in the city, he can find another employment that matches his skills. When a peasant is deprived of his land or when a peasant worker is subjected to the most depraving renumeration, his whole family will die. Land is literally their life.
Such is the uniqueness of the protest in Hacienda Luisita. Families and friends cannot detach themselves from the struggle of workers in the Hacienda.
Noynoy Aquino is also correct. Violence could have been avoided. But it was his ilk who provoked the farmers to launch a strike. The moment they began paying farmers P10 a week (after salary loan deductions) or disallowing farmers to pick even a single kamote crop in the estate, peace is no longer possible. When Mikee’s horses have airconditioned stables while the farmers live in filth, it would not take long for the toiling people to cry for better living conditions. After all, they are humans too.
The management should not complain that strikers were hard-headed during negotiations. They should be grateful that the workers agreed to negotiate in the first place. After being treated as slaves, the farmers were noble enough to agree to a dialogue with the management.
In a brazen display of landlord might, the Cojuangcos dispatched the police and military to disperse the picket. The first family of feudal Philippines hoped to show the farmers and every dissenting group that they still hold sway in this part of the world. The law protects people like them. The military does their dirty work.
Yes, there is democracy in the country, but only when the landlords need it.
It is during these times that sympathizers become active participants of the anti-feudal struggle. Soft-spoken activists become hardened combatants. Sober, peace-loving people suddenly transform into a raging battalion of peasant warriors. It is better to fight and die than to live and die of hunger, as one peasant bellowed in a TV interview. Some will disappear to seek justice in the hinterlands.
The massacre in Hacienda Luisita will finally disprove the peddled illusions of the respectable civil society groups that the state can be engaged to protect the interests of the marginalized or that we have a modernizing democracy. What state-civil society relations? What modern democracy? What crap.
The traumatizing memories of decades-long oppression under the hands of the “benevolent” Cojuangcos stirred the peasants into dynamic action. Finally, they can reclaim their humanity.
Kris Aquino was wrong when she boasted on national TV that her designer clothes were “katas ng Hacienda Luisita.” Now we witness the hardworking people who produce the wealth of Hacienda Luisita displaying extraordinary force, anger and devotion which only the most oppressed and exploited can ever show.