By Makisig Corrales, Lala Lichugas and Trinity Biglang Awa
Manila, Philippines-Rural based militant groups on Wednesday told Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his family– the landlord Cojuangco-Aquino clan they should distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries now and not on 2014 as proposed by the front running presidential candidate.
In a manifesto signed by the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Amihan peasant women federation, Anakpawis party list, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Aquino was merely taking Luisita workers into a roller coaster ride by making them believe that the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has decided to yield effective control of the sugar estate to farm workers by 2014.
“Why wait for 2014 if they can relinquish their immoral and unlawful control of Hacienda Luisita anytime today, tomorrow or next week? We will not buy this gimmick. He is politically hurt by issues ranged against him on hacienda, and he just issued this eyebrow raising, jaw dropping statement to stop the dropping trend in his ratings at the electoral box-office”, said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in behalf of the groups.
At a press conference held in his family’s ancestral home in Concepcion, Tarlac, Noynoy told reporters that he had convinced members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to prepare for the turnover of the sugar estate to farm worker beneficiaries by June 2014.
Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said his principal is committed to distribute the land to farm worker beneficiaries at the end of the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carper). Lacierda stressed that the decision was made because of principle and not just a campaign promise.
“That’s baloney. Where’s the logic behind that promise? The free distribution of Hacienda Luisita should take place now. The 2014 agrarian deadline is highly questionable and grossly unacceptable,” added Ramos.
Before Congress recessed on Feb.5, leaders of UMA, ULWU and AMGL trooped to Senate and sent a letter of appeal urging Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case particularly the controversial Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which was sneaked in by former President Corazon Aquino to gain effective control of Luisita.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said said on June 8, 1989, Enrile, then Senate Minority Leader in his privilege speech questioned Executive Order 229 allowing Hacienda Luisita to evade distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers by signing EO 229 placing the entire sugar estate under SDO scheme where farmers become nominal stock holders instead of having physical possession of lands.
“Hacienda Luisita is a history of long-running deception by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. It is time to end this prime time and triple platinum betrayal of peasant interest and welfare,” he said.