Villar man says he has proof of Luisita overprice

Villar man says he has proof of Luisita overprice
By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Claiming that the family of Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had benefited from the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) project, the Nacionalista Party (NP) on Friday dared Aquino to make good on his promise to resign as senator.

In a statement, Cavite Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla said he had proof that Aquino had used his influence so his family’s sugar estate would benefit in the construction of the expressway that passes through Hacienda Luisita.

Remulla, an NP stalwart, claimed that the government bought overpriced land from Hacienda Luisita—owned by the Cojuangco side of Aquino’s family—for the expressway.

“I have it on good authority that it was Don Pedro Cojuangco and other close relatives who negotiated with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) on the pricing of the areas in Hacienda Luisita traversed by the right of way. Noynoy cannot deny this,” Remulla said.

The congressman, who was one of those who investigated the SCTEx issue, challenged Aquino to testify under oath that he had no relatives involved in the right-of-way payments for SCTEx, a 93.77-kilometer toll road from Subic in Pampanga to Tarlac City.

Remulla said the Aquino-Cojuangco family wanted payment of P200 per square meter although the Bureau of Internal Revenue pegged the zonal valuation at P8 per sq m.

Eventually, the Aquino family was paid P100 per sq m, although the owners of the surrounding properties were paid only P75 per sq m.

“The evidence is very clear that the Aquino-Cojuangco family made money from the transaction to the disadvantage of the government, therefore, Noynoy should make good on his promise to resign as senator,” Remulla said.

Of the P83 million paid by government for the 80 hectares affected by the SCTEx tollway project, P80 million went to Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and P3.9 million went to another Cojuangco-owned corporation, Tadeco, he said.

“And despite owning on paper, 33 percent of the 4,915-hectare hacienda, the farmer-shareholders of Hacienda Luisita received only a total of 3 percent,” Remulla said.

On top of the P83 million, the government built a P170-million interchange which connected Luisita to the SCTEx “without [the Cojuangcos] paying a single cent, unlike other subdivisions,” he said.

Remulla also challenged Aquino to disclose the total debt of Luisita as “this was a problem they created.”

“If Noynoy is sincere, he should have the TRO of Luisita in the Supreme Court lifted so land could be distributed to the farmers as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that Aquino was only using the alleged debt of Hacienda Luisita as a convenient excuse to justify its non-distribution to its tenants.

“Noynoy should disclose the actual debt of Hacienda Luisita and explain why this would stop them from distributing the land, when as a matter of fact, the farmers had nothing to do with the debt,” Remulla said.

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

The ProPinoy Project