The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) yesterday condemned the “compromise deal” forged by the management of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), calling it “a devious scheme to preserve the decades-old Cojuangco land monopoly in Tarlac and continue subjecting the peasants and farm workers to semifeudal exploitation and oppression.”
“The so-called deal was deviously cooked up and is being vigorously pushed by the Cojuangcos through bribery, coercion and political maneuverings,” said the CPP in a statement.
“By having one of their own in Malacañang, the Cojuangcos are now brazenly pushing through with all possible arrangements, however odious and malevolent, to protect their vast landholdings and preserve their wealth accumulated through power, theft and the exploitation and oppression of their tenants and farm workers.”
The CPP accused Benigno Aquino III of pretending to distance himself from the issue. “It is obvious that Aquino has been totally in, minutely following the issue, and strongly pushing for the phoney deal,” said the CPP.
“The hypocritical president is now also trying to win over Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom Aquino earlier said he would not recognize for having been an illegal midnight appointee of the Arroyo administration.
Aquino now wants to win Corona’s favor and that of the other justices in the forthcoming hearing set by the Supreme Court based on appeals of peasant organizations to junk the spurious Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and immediately distribute the Hacienda Luisita lands,” the CPP added.
“The Cojuangco deal is the complete opposite of the long-standing
clamor for social justice,” said the CPP.
“By continuing to ignore the demand of the masses of peasants and farm workers to subject Hacienda Luisita and all other monopoly-owned
haciendas to land reform, the Aquino regime only succeeds in exposing
the plain truth that breaking the feudal and semifeudal system in the
Philippines can only be achieved by waging an agrarian revolution through armed struggle,” said the CPP.
Calling the Cojuangco deal “callous,” the CPP went on to say that it will only push more and more peasants and farm workers into joining the armed revolution as the only means to achieve their long-standing demand for social justice.”
The SDO scheme was contained in an executive order of then president
Cory Aquino, issued even before the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program (CARP) was made into law in 1988. The SDO scheme was introduced by the Cojuangco clan itself to preempt the actual application of land reform to large plantations such as their Hacienda Luisita.
The new Cojuangco “compromise deal” which was made public over the
weekend claims to give peasants an option to choose between retaining their company stocks under the SDO or receiving a much reduced size of land. The HLI now “offers” for distribution only 1,366 hectares out of the 4,915 hectares of what remained as agricultural land in the hacienda.
The CARP requires all agricultural lands to be distributed, with only five hectares to be retained by the landlord, and with the beneficiaries also receiving a share of the income of those lands already converted to other uses. More than 1,500 hectares also originally claimed by the peasants and farm workers had already been converted for industrial and commercial use during the years the hacienda was supposed to have been covered by CARP.
The Cojuangcos skirted CARP by using the contested SDO provision.
They reportedly created a shadow corporation in the form of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated to avoid including in the SDO all the land and other
assets of the original Central Azucarera de Tarlac. They also increasingly converted parts of the hacienda for industrial and commercial use, and gave only a nominal 30% share of HLI, purportedly to correspond with the ‘value’ of the entire remaining agricultural land.
The CPP said that “With further convoluted logic, the Cojuangcos are only now claiming that the peasants and farmworkers’ 30% share of HLI stocks is equivalent to just 30% of the agricultural land. The phoney deal would then leave each peasant or farm worker opting for land with just a tenth of a hectare.”