By Jay Cuesta, Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Gerry Albert Corpuz
Manila, Philippines- Four of the biggest rural-based organizations—the activist farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the peasant women federation Amihan and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) on Monday assailed the sisters of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III for blaming the lack of family planning among tenants and farm workers as the reason why poverty is widespread in the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate.
In a joint press statement, the groups said Noynoy sisters- Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Pinky Aquino Abelleda are politically arrogant, mentally disoriented and morally inept for putting the blame on farm workers lack of family planning as the ultimate cause of their poverty and sorry state.
“Noynoy and her sisters are twisting the truth and distorting the life and struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers. May the God of truth and justice teach these political bitches the lessons of a lifetime,” the groups said in their joint statement.
“More than 8,000 farm workers were denied of their rights to land. More than 8,000 farm workers were kept as slaves of the Cojuangco-Aquino family and that Luisita workers were compelled to believe that the P 9.50 per day salary for each worker is just in exchange for nominal ownership under the blasphemous Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme. This is stupid. Pinky and Ballsy are stupid political animals acting like feel good politicians,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
The Aquino sisters joined the LP delegation in Candelaria, Quezon on Sunday to meet supporters of their brother in the May 2010 presidential elections.
Cruz denied allegations that the management of Hacienda Luisita did not give farmer-shareholders their just share of over P80 million paid by the government for the 83-hectare right-of-way through the Luisita estate in constructing the Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Expressway.
She said the money was spent by the corporation to pay off debts.
Cruz said Hacienda Lusita is a corporation. It has lots of debts. The money was not divided among shareholders and instead, it went to the trasurer.
In defending the stock distribution option, which has been criticized for effectively exempting the Cojuangcos from agrarian reform, Cruz said the farmers were able to have their land without the government paying even a single centavo for it.
Cruz said they own only 11 percent of the 67 percent shares controlled by the Cojuangco clan.
Pamalakaya, KMP and UMA earlier dared Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case involving SDO and the massacre which happened on Nov.16, 2004 that claimed the lives of 7 farm workers and injured 100 others.
The groups reminded Enrile that on June 8, 1989, the senator, then Senate Minority Leader of the Corazon Aquino controlled Senate delivered a privilege speech questioning the late President Aquino’s insertion of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) in her outline for the land reform law.
They said 21 years ago, Sen. Enrile accused former President Aquino of usurping powers by signing Executive Order No. 229 to preside over the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the body that placed and approved to place the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita under the SDO scheme.
“Will the Senate leadership under the Enrile presidency find time to re-open the long-running story of Hacienda Luisita and the controversial SDO in the name of farmers’ right to land and social justice? Is there a guarantee from Enrile that he will re-open the still unresolved cases and issues surrounding the sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino family upon the request of Luisita farm workers?” the groups said in their joint statement.
In his speech, Enrile, then Senate Minority Floor Leader assailed the Aquino presidency for withdrawing the government case against owners of Hacienda Luisita, adding that the Arroyo presidency circumvent land reform to stay control of Hacienda Luisita.
“It is about time to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case. It will be moral and politically upright to have this case closed ahead of the 2010 elections with the free distribution of lands to 8,000 farmer beneficiaries and the punishment of those involved in the Nov.16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre,” said UMA spokesperson Lito Bais.
The groups lamented that Noynoy and her sisters believe Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them.
The United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is relying on the strength of SDO to prevent the free land distribution of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to some 8,000 farmer beneficiaries. ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the SDO which transformed farmworkers into nominal stockholders, also compelled Luisita workers to accept the P9.50 net pay daily. With reports from Sugar Hicap and Viva Regala-Alonzo