Aquino: Prove Luisita land overprice and I’ll quit Senate

Aquino: Prove Luisita land overprice and I’ll quit Senate
By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vowed to resign from the Senate if it could be proved he used his influence to benefit his family’s sugar estate in the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

Speaking to Inquirer reporters and editors earlier this week, Aquino accused his critics in the SCTEX controversy of “mental dishonesty” and said he would soon reveal who really benefited from the roadway’s construction.

Earlier, Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla of the rival Nacionalista Party (NP) claimed the government had bought overpriced land from Hacienda Luisita—which is owned by the Cojuangco side of Aquino’s family—for the expressway.

Show me proof

“When you look at the body of everything (Remulla) said, I don’t think he ever accused me of doing anything or failing to do something,” Aquino said.

“Show me genuine (proof and) I’ll resign as senator,” he added.

Aquino is in his first term in the Senate and could return to the chamber if he does not win the presidency.

He said there were people who benefited from engaging in land speculation in the SCTEX project and he would soon come out with documentary evidence to prove it.

“There is an issue in SCTEX and we’ll bring about the real issue soon. We’ll point out the people who really made money with complete documentation,” he said.

No overprice

Aquino denied any overprice in the Hacienda Luisita land sale to the government, pointing out the bank had valued the land at P150 per square meter, but the government paid only P100 per.

He said the C-5 controversy that NP presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar was embroiled in could not be compared to the SCTEX project.

“I challenge anybody—when did (Remulla) ever say that I wrote a letter to (the Bases Conversion Development Authority) asking for (a favor), or put my pork barrel in SCTEX, or that we diverted the road to Luisita?” he said.

Aquino said the expressway was intended to connect the Subic free port and the Clark airport to the industrial zones in Central Luzon.

“The only industrial zone in Tarlac is Luisita,” he said.

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