Saturday, December 11, 2010

PNoy belies Hacienda Luisita to hold Balikatan exercises

President Benigno Aquino III over the weekend branded as “propaganda" reports claiming he had allowed the holding of joint RP-US military exercises in 2011 in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.

While Aquino said some of the soldiers taking part in the exercises are billeted at a hotel in the area, he stressed there are no military exercises in the hacienda which is owned by his family.

“Ang involvement lang dito sa Luisita, naka-billet daw ang ibang sundalong magpa-participate sa Microtel. Pero walang exercises sa Luisita. Propaganda na naman yata ‘yan (Some of the soldiers taking part in the joint exercises are supposedly billeted at a hotel inside the hacienda. But there are no exercises in Luisita. That’s just propaganda)," he said.

Luisita is the site of a deadly confrontation between peasants and state security forces in 2004. In the May elections, Aquino’s critics had used the bloody confrontation and land reform issues in the hacienda against him.

Militant groups had pressed Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to scrap a reported deal between Malacañang and the US military command in charge of the RP-US Balikatan exercises to hold joint military exercises inside the 6,453-hectare sugar estate.

Hacienda Luisita-based groups Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, United Luisita Workers Union, and Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita also asked Aquino if it was true that the hacienda would be the next venue of the scheduled Balikatan exercises. — MRT/VS, GMANews.TV

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