Tuesday, March 08, 2005

They killed a peacemaker

The Peacemaker
Councilor Abelardo R. Ladera
[January 24, 1960-March 4, 2005]

Tarlac City Councilor Abelardo R. Ladera, the ninth victim in the series of killings connected with the Hacienda Luisita labor dispute, was shot and killed at about 1 pm on March 4, 2005.

Ladera, 43, a former barangay chairman of Barangay Balite inside Hacienda Luisita, was on his way home from the Tarlac City Hall and was buying vehicle spare parts at a store along Mac Arthur Highway in Barangay Paraiso, Tarlac City when a single bullet fired by still unknown assailants entered his upper left breast and pierced his heart.

His driver, Edwin Arocena, and a companion rushed him to the Central Luzon Doctors’ Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

His death is the ninth in a series of killings since the November 16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre.

Ladera, on his second term as a city councilor, is a leader of the BAYAN MUNA Tarlac provincial chapter. He is a well-respected and popular local legislator and was No. 2 councilor in the last local elections.

He grew up in an ordinary worker family in Barangay Balite, one of the ten barangays comprising Hacienda Luisita where he served as a former barangay council member and a barangay chairman. He also worked as warehouse man at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac.

He is survived by his wife, Elma, and their two children Maybelle and Juan Miguel, and by his parents Leonardo Ladera and Rosalina Rosal.

He consistently and courageously championed the rights and welfare of the people of Hacienda Luisita and the working people of Tarlac City. As chair of the city council committee on human rights, labor and employment, he was able to pass several resolutions among which are:

Support for the campaign for a P125 daily wage increase for workers in the private sector and a P3,000 across-the-board increase in the wages of government employees Strict implementation of all wage orders and labor standards in Tarlac City Sympathy and support for the 327 terminated plantation workers of Hacienda Luisita Numerous resolutions declaring the intention of the Tarlac City council to mediate in labor disputes, not only in Hacienda Luisita, but in other establishments in Tarlac City Support for House Resolution No. 155 which calls for a congressional inquiry on the implementation of the stock distribution option in Hacienda Luisita

Councilor Ladera was appointed to be an official delegate of the panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines [GRP], observer status, in the peace negotiations between the GRP and the National Democratic Front [NDF] in Oslo, Norway. He attended the last round of back door talks between the two panels held in Utrecht, The Netherlands on December 2004.

BAYAN-Tarlac condemns the treacherous killing of Councilor Abel in the strongest possible terms. We hold the US-Arroyo regime, the Northern Luzon Command and the Cojuangco family for his senseless and brutal death.

Only the Cojuangco family, the Northern Luzon Command and the US-Arroyo regime has the motive and the capacity to kill Councilor Abel Ladera. He has no personal enemies and is well loved by his constituents, not only in Hacienda Luisita, but in the entire Tarlac City.

To condition the public mind and justify the killing of Councilor Ladera, the Northern Luzon Command in a press briefing held last January 22 at NOLCOM headquarters in Camp Aquino, Tarlac City, declared Hacienda Luisita a “matter of national security” and falsely branded Councilor Abel as “the contact person of the CPP-NPA in Hacienda Luisita.”

In several pamphlets issued by NOLCOM, Councilor Ladera was falsely portrayed as a nephew of New People’s Army spokesperson Rogelio Rosal and directly accused him of involvement in NOLCOM’s fabricated story that members of the New People’s Army shot and killed the striking workers at the picket line in Hacienda Luisita in the afternoon of November 16, 2004.

This lie has been proven

After January 22, NOLCOM made the rounds of government offices in Tarlac, including a meeting of the Association of Barangay Captains in Tarlac City where the Power Point Presentation used during the NOLCOM press briefing was presented to barangay leaders of Tarlac City.

Among other bare-faced lies and shameless accusations contained in the presentation, Councilor Abel was among ten [10] persons branded as either NPAS or leaders of CPP/NPA front organizations.

Needless to say, those in the list, which included Rene Galang and Ildefonso Pingol, president and vice-president of the United Luisita Workers’ Union, respectively, KADAMAY chair Elmon David, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Tarlac chair and concurrent BAYAN secretary general Pol Viuya , former International Wiring Systems Employes Union president Angie Ladera and four others, are potential targets of attack by government forces, as what NOLCOM would like to devilishly convey.

The NOLCOM presentation was even used among the ranks of the academic community like the Tarlac State University.

Like Hitler’s Goebbels, NOLCOM spokesperson Preme Monta abided by the dictum :”lies when repeated often enough will pass for truth.”

But the propaganda aspect is not what is really alarming about the NOLCOM tapestry of lies. The real weight of the presentation is that it is a prelude to cold-blooded murder as proven by the death of Councilor Abel Ladera.

The Cojuangco family have everything to gain by the death of Councilor Ladera. The fearless champion of the hacienda people will be put to rest. In their satanic dreams, the elimination of Councilor Abel Ladera will mean the success of their evil design to drive the hacienda people from the land, even at the cost of countless, precious lives.

What they failed to achieve through the deaths of the martyrs of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the death of Ka Marcing Beltran on December 8, 2004, they hope to achieve through the death of Councilor Abel. But sure as the sun will rise each day over the fields of the sugar plantation, the enemies of the people will fail.

The US-Arroyo regime is no less innocent. At stake in the hacienda strike is, in a sense, the survival of her government. The multi-billion peso Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway [STEC] will traverse the hacienda. Along with it will rise the businesses of the foreign and local big comprador bourgeois—the project being one of the pillars of her 10—Point program. The hacienda strike has put all this at a dangerous risk for her government.

If the deaths of the Hacienda Luisita martyrs, the death of Ka Marcing and the death of Councilor Abel will insure her 10-Point program, then, the killings will simply be part of the cost of the project, and the viability of her government. Thus, she regularly unleashes her murderers and assassins against the brave people of Hacienda Luisita--the AFP and the PNP.

And who laughs loudest while all this is taking place? George Bush and his imperialist government. Once more, since the time when US imperialism slaughtered more than one million Filipinos during the Philippine_American War, the US government is using its most effective way of controlling a government and its people: the force of arms. The Arroyo government’s capability to do harm to its people comes from the US. This partnership was actually the gun that killed the nine martyrs of Hacienda Luisita.

At the height of the tension at the picket line resulting from the Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) issued by Patricia Sto. Tomas on Nov.10, 2004, Councilor Ladera was in the midst of opening negotiations between the striking workers and the Cojuangco family.

On the night of Nov.14, Councilor Ladera wrote and faxed letters to Peping Cojuangco and Noynoy Aquino offering his intention to act as mediator to open negotiations and avert another bloody dispersal. The letters were received on that same night but no encouraging reply was forthcoming.

In the afternoon of Nov. 15, right after the failure of the third attempt by the Cojuangco family and the Arroyo government to forcibly disperse the striking workers, their families and their supporters in gate 1, Councilor Ladera again wrote and faxed letters to the two members of the Cojuangco family which paved the way for a possible breakthrough in the negotiations.

On the morning of Nov. 16, the day of the infamous massacre, Councilor Ladera was at the gates of the residence of Peping Cojuangco in Dasmarinas, Village Makati along with union leaders, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and regional leaders of various people’s organizations for the first ever direct negotiations.

Hoping against all hope for a peaceful solution to the labor dispute, Councilor Ladera and the group practically knocked on the door of Peping Cojuangco to be let in and for the dialogue to commence. That sincere attempt on the part of the hacienda people was swept aside by Peping Cojuangco.

Councilor Ladera and the group hurriedly went home to the hacienda to report the bad news and help man the picket lines because the attempt at negotiations have failed. He has just arrived and was resting when screams of anguish awakened him. The people of Hacienda Luisita are being slaughtered by the AFP and the PNP.

But the massacre did not in any way dampen Councilor Ladera’s resolve to settle the labor dispute through negotiations. The following days and months will see him talking with people who might, in any way, help to amicably settle the dispute, visiting the picket lines and rendering any assistance at his disposal. He went on despite the smear campaign and veiled murder threat NOLCOM have foisted over him.

In the afternoon of March 4, 2005, on his way home to his beloved people of the hacienda, a single bullet pierced his heart. The enemies of the people killed a peacemaker.

Reference: Pol Viuya
Secretary General
Tel No. 0921-264-6814

1 comment:

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