MANILA, Philippines— Members of Ambala (Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita), a union of framers working the land of the Hacienda Luisita, on Friday filed several criminal charges against relatives of President Benigno Aquino III, the owners of the land, for alleged abuses against them.
The farmers came before the Department of Justice to file 41 criminal complaints against the President’s kin, sister Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, uncle Jose “Peping”
Cojuangco Jr; as well as against board members of the Tarlac Development Corporation, former Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres, Tarlac Provincial Police Director Alex Sintin and former Tarlac City police chief Bayani Razalan.
Jobert PahilgaTlegal, counsel of the Ambala group, said that the farmers filed chargers for purported incidents of abuse and harassment suffered in recent months.
Tlegal detailed the charges levied by the farmers as: attempted murder, arson, child abuse, physical injuries, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, theft, robbery and malicious mischief.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the actions of the farmers may be nothing more than a “smear” campaign against the President, and challenged the Ambala group to show evidence to substantiate their allegations.
“Given the range of crimes being alleged, the accusers must prove all of their accusations with evidence that will withstand legal scrutiny. Otherwise, it is a mere attempt to smear the President through his relatives and will clearly be a PR stunt,” Valte said via text message.
The recent set of charges filed by the Luisita farmers comprises the third batch of complaints against the landowners. The first two batches of complaints have not progressed since their filing.