HUMAN Rights Commissioner Dominador Calamba III deplored the bloody dispersal of striking workers of the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita last Nov. 16.

“Hindi maganda ang handling ng case (Hacienda Luisita massacre), so much so that the rights of the laborers were violated,” Calamba said in the forum,”Hacienda Luisita Massacre: What is the Way to Peace?” last Feb. 4 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex seminar room.

Calamba encouraged the hacienda workers to be aware of their labor rights and to stand up for them.

“Kayo’y may karapatan, ang karapatang ito ay para sa lahat,” he told Hacienda Luisita laborers and union members, and students from St. Scholastica’s College and Philippine Maritime Institute. “I hope and pray that you will succeed in your fight for human rights. Fight for it dahil ito’y inyo.”

In addition, Rep. Rafael Mariano of the Anakpawis Partylist group and Rene Tua, Central Azucarera de Tarlac labor union adviser, reiterated the laborers’ call for justice.

“Totoo kayang kung makapagsasalita lamang ang mahigit anim na libong ektarya ng Hacienda Luisita at ‘yung mga tubong nakatayo doon, para kanino kaya sila sisigaw ng katarungan, para sa mga manggagawa o para sa pamilyang Cojuangco?” said Mariano.

The Hacienda Luisita Massacre left seven laborers dead, 100 others injured and 116 detained during a dispersal operation by anti-riot police following a protest staged Nov. 16 last year by the laborers who demanded higher pay.

The participants later signed a pact called “Solidarity for the Advancement of Social Justice and Peace” to affirm their stand on justice for the victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

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The forum, organized by the UST Center for Contextualized Theology and Ethics, aimed to build unity among different sectors on the issue. Lady Camille L. de Guia

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