In March, Fernando Cojuangco, the HLI’s chief operating officer and an uncle of President Aquino, told The New York Times that the family had no intention to part with the hacienda.
“No, we’re not going to,” Cojuangco replied when the paper asked him if the family intended to part with the hacienda. “I think it would be irresponsible because I feel that continuing what we have here is the way to go. Sugar farming has to be; it’s the kind of business that has to be done plantation-style.”
Cojuangco’s comment, which he never denied, became controversial, coming as it did on the heels of President Aquino’s promise to distribute the land in the next five years. Aquino repeated the promise shortly after he took office in July.
Just Another Maneuver
In an interview with Bulatlat, KMP national auditor Antonio Flores said the new scheme as reported by the Inquirer does not differ from the SDO, an option that was inserted in the CARP law by the administration of President Aquino’s mother Cory. “It is just another maneuver. We know from history that the Cojuango-Aquinos never fulfill their promises,” Flores said.
Flores recalled that then President Corazon Aquino promised land reform and make the HLI a model of her program. “Six months later, the farmers were shot at in what is now known as the Mendiola Massacre. Then, the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in 2004 happened. We have lost trust in them.”
“If they are sincere, why not just distribute the land for free and without conditions?” Flores said. “Why did they have to file a TRO in the first place?” Flores asked.
Pahilga said it is important for the Supreme Court to continue with the oral argument so that issues — such as who are the real beneficiaries of the hacienda and whether the stock distribution option is constitutional and beneficial to the farm workers — will be resolved.
He added that the issue of justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and of the extrajudicial killings that happened thereafter should also be considered.
Flores also criticized President Aquino for opting for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper). “Carper is junk. What we want is genuine land reform. After one year of Carper, no land has been distributed. What we witnessed instead are cases of displacement of farmers such as the case in Hacienda Yulo and elsewhere,” Flores said. (Bulatlat.com)