Sunday, July 10, 2011

Evading land reform

I am really sad and mad of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on Hacienda Luisita. Consequently I have another post on Hacienda Luisita, this is shared to me by the farm workers, a brief chronology how the Cojuangco-Aquino acquired the property and how they evaded land reform.

Spanish colonization
  • The 6,474-hectare sugar estate was controlled by Don Antonio Lopez y Lopez and was named after his wife Luisa Bru y Lassus under the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas or Tabacalera.  
  • Hacienda Luisita was acquired by Tabacalera on November 26, 1881, together with Hacienda Antonio, Hacienda San Fernando and Hacienda Sta. Isabel in Cagayan and Isabela. 
American period
  • Hacienda Luisita was never taken from the Tabacalera; instead it supplied 20% of total supply of sugar in the US. 
  •  It upgraded its sugar central and Luisita sugar became popular in the US especially among Filipino elite migrants.  .
In 1957
  • The Hukbalahap rebellion pushed the Tabacalera into disposing Hacienda Luisita.  It was eyed by the Lopez’s who already owned Meralco, Negros Navigation, Manila Chronicle  and various haciendas in western Visayas and Pampanga. 
  • Former president Magsaysay blocked the sale as the Lopez’s control over industries was already towards monopoly.  
  • The Cojuangco showed intent and the sale pushed through after Magsaysay’s death in 1958 through a loan from the Government  Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Manufacturers’ Trust of Company of New York, guaranteed by the Central Bank of the Philippines.  This was under the condition that the lands would be under agrarian reform in 10 years time under the framework of the government’s social justice program
1985
  • A case was filed by the Marcos government in 1985 compelling the Cojuangco to transfer Hacienda Luisita to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform for subdivision and sale to farmers. The case was dismissed by the Court of Appeals in 1988 on the ground that Luisita would be covered by agrarian reform.
1988
  • Under the presidency of Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) was enacted. Aquino made land reform her administration’s centerpiece program, and even vowed to subject Luisita to land reform “to serve as an example".
  • She promised to distribute Hacienda Luisita but she never did, instead she implemented the notorious Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and deceived the farm workers of being ‘stockholders. To legalize it she signed Executive Order 229 that states “transfer of shares of stocks, rather than land, to workers and other qualified beneficiaries as the action is deemed compliance with the land distribution requirements of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)”. 
  • Subsequently, the TADECO created Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) as a company specifically for this purpose.
1990 to present
  •  The Cojuangco created several agribusiness-related companies such as sugarcane production and milling of which only the HLI dealt with agrarian reform. 
  • Declared only less than 5,000 hectares as land assets and reduced its value to only one-third of HLI’s total value. 
  • Pushed for the conversion of Luisita lands into non-agricultural ventures for profit.  These land-use conversions have reduced the hacienda’s agricultural lands to less than half its original size.
  • The Sangguniang Bayan ng Tarlac reclassified 3,290 agricultural hectares of Luisita for commercial, industrial and residential use: the Luisita Golf and Country Club, Las Haciendas Industrial Subdivision, Family Park Homes Subdivision, Don Pepe Cojuangco Subdivision and the St. Luis Subdivision. 
  • Of this, 500 hectares have been sold to two Japanese corporations namely Itutsu and Hasana.
  • Another 500 hectares were converted into the Luisita Industrial Park in August 1996. The conversion yielded over P2 billion for the Cojuangco.
  • The massive land-use conversion in Hacienda Luisita consequently led to lesser mandays, lower production, much lower wages and the eventual retrenchment of farm workers - the average take home pay of farm workers amounts only to P18 for the seasonal or P9 for the casual for a two-mandays week. 
Through the SDO, the Cojuangco-Aquino have distorted the essence of land reform for their benefit. It masqueraded as ‘co-ownership’ between landowners and farm workers.

And again, "new referendum" as ruled by the SC, a new deception to the farm workers, a new tactics to evade land reform.

Fifty-four years have passed since the Cojuangco acquired Hacienda Luisita at no cost except the promise to return the land to its rightful tillers. The promise remains unfulfilled.

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