By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Billy Javier Reyes
MANILA, Philippines-One of the groups supporting the fight of Hacienda Luisita workers expressed outrage on Tuesday over a controversial statement of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III that the family could have gained P 3.B in net profits from selling the large sugar plantation if his family did not care about the farmers and only care for their interests.
In a press statement, the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the Cojuangco-Aquino family has no right to claim ownership over the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation, and therefore has no right to dispose it to high bidders ad preferred clients of the Cojuangcos interested in acquiring the disputed land.
Aquino said the 4,500-hectare plantation could have been sold at P4.5 billion, with the real estate price of P100 per square meter. He said if his family decided to sell Hacienda Luisita, seventy percent of the proceeds will go the Cojuangco family or roughly P 3.15 billion, after payment of the company’s debts, adding at there would still be a big enough amount left in the family bank accounts.
“Noynoy and the landed aristocrats and oligarchs of the Cojuangco-Aquino landed mafia have no right to claim ownership over Hacienda Luisita. They should stop representing themselves as owners and benign proprietors of the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation. Hacienda Luisita belongs to generations of hardworking farm workers who were deprived of their rights to land by the passed on landed matriarchs and patriarchs of the exploiting Cojuangco clan,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said.
Hicap accused Sen. Aquino of misleading the Filipino public by trying to picture them as enlightened landlords in the countryside. “This presidential wannabe is a certified liar and a first-rate harbinger of lies and illusions. The farmers all over the country should reject this traditional politician and sugar-coated warlord in Central Luzon,” he said. According to Hicap, the Cojuangco-Aquino family acquired Hacienda Luisita through an endless campaign of coercion and deception on farm workers.
The Pamalakaya official said Noynoy should face the issues surrounding Hacienda Luisita fair and square and refrain from issuing statements that misrepresent or distort the real score in the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation that covers towns of Tarlac province.
Hicap stressed Hacienda Luisita should had been distributed to farmer beneficiaries in 1967 as part of the agreement between the Philippine government and the Cojuangco family in exchange for the P 7 million loan the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino obtained from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), aside from the 10-year loan acquired by the Cojuangcos from Manufacturer’s Trust Company in New York which was permitted by the Central Bank of the Philippines.
The loan obtained from New York and the GSIS loan were used by the Cojuangcos to buy the Hacienda Luisita from its former Spanish owners on the condition that the sugar estate will be awarded to farm workers in 1967 in pursuit of agrarian reform and social justice.
“Where is Noynoy’s sense of history and justice? He and his family are distorting everything to keep their unlawful and immoral control of Hacienda Luisita. Please do not vote for this political shenanigan in 2010. He poses extreme danger to the people,” added Hicap.
The Pamalakaya leader said Senator Aquino and other members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family should be declared illegal occupants and bogus owners of Hacienda Luisita. “In fact Aquino and Cojuangco clan should be charged of grave fraud and exploitation for transforming Hacienda Luisita farmworkers into long-time and long-running serfs over the last four decades. That is undeniably crime against humanity,” said Hicap.
Pamalakaya said the free distribution of 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm workers faces zero possibility in case Aquino wins the presidency in 2010. “Aquino and the Cojuangco clan will not relinquish their illegal and immoral control of Luisita. Noynoy will even use the presidency just like what his mother did to stop the farm workers from acquiring Luisita. It is all in the feudal mindset of the Cojuangcos and the rate things are going, even Noynoy sisters will cooperate to ensure gross denials of peasant land rights for another four to five decades or even a century more,” the group added.