Ulwu chairman Lito Bais said the financial package from Hacienda Luisita management was meant to lure farm workers into the compromise-agreement bait. “They exploited the poverty of the farm workers and used money to deceive them,” he said. Bais also accused the Cojuangco-Aquinos of “hoodwinking” farm workers of hundreds of millions from earlier land deals.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — A leader of the United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu) has denounced Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) for using the initial P20-million cash package to lure and deceive the farm workers of the hacienda into agreeing to the controversial compromise agreement.
The P20 million is part of the P150-million financial package stated in the so-called compromise agreement between the HLI management and individuals who claim to represent farm workers.
The HLI management said it is a “sign of goodwill” and that the remaining P130 million will be given to the farmers once the deal is approved by the Supreme Court.
Ulwu chairman Lito Bais, however, said that the financial package was meant to lure farm workers into the bait of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, owner of the Hacienda Luisita estate.
“They exploited the poverty of the farm workers and used money to deceive them,” Bais said, adding that the HLI management spent much money for the referendum, in which farm workers were given two options: land or shares of stocks.
Hacienda Luisita management has defended the financial package. (Click here to read more of their side.)
To evade land distribution, the Cojuangco-Aquinos implemented the stock distribution option (SDO) in 1989 as one of the non-land transfer schemes indicated in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).
Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, executive trustee of the Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and lawyer of the farmers’ group Ambala, said the P150 million is “miniscule” amount compared to what the Cojuangco-Aquinos actually owe the farm workers.
Pahilga cited the sale of the 500-hectare land in 1995 to be used for medium-cost and low-cost housing and an industrial estate. He said that as shareholders under the SDO, farm workers are entitled to 33 percent of the P2.5 billion, or valued at P750,000 per hectare. “The farm workers were supposed to receive P666 million but they were only given three percent of the sale amounting to only P33 million.” “Meanwhile, the HLI management got 97 percent.”
Pahilga argued that the Cojuangco-Aquinos manipulated the determination of shares of stocks of the farm workers, saying that what remains of the agricultural land have been undervalued while the HLI management’s assets were overvalued.
“Even based on an unfair computation, the farm workers were shortchanged,” Pahilga said. (Related video: Economist Winnie Monsod Shows How Cojuangco-Aquinos Deceived Luisita Farmers All These Years)
Bais, meanwhile, related that from the P84 billion paid to the HLI for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), the 10,000 farm workers were only given P2.4 million.
“Some of us got 50 centavos, others 25 centavos,” Bais said, adding that that the Cojuangco-Aquinos gave them were “mumo,” or discarded rice.
Under the compromise agreement, farm workers will waive and agree to withdraw any and all claims, including those arising from employer-employee relationship, complaints, petitions filed, or to be filed, with the DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform], PARC [Presidential Agrarian Reform Council], administrative, quasi-judicial and/or judicial bodies, or any other matter arising from or incidental to the MOA [memorandum of agreement], or any dispute between HLI and the farm workers, and hereby release and hold harmless each other from any and all other liabilities or claims, of any form and kind, which one may have against the other and its officers, or which may arise now or in the future between HLI and the farm workers, or as a result of or incidental to the implementation of the MOA.
Pahilga said this is a violation of the law as it insulates the HLI from any future cases.
“This provision makes the farm workers virtual slaves, as they were and are already regarded as such by the Cojuangcos,” Pahilga said. It strips the farm workers the right to question any criminal, illegal and unjust acts of HLI management, he pointed out. (Bulatlat.com)