Don’t hide behind sisters’ skirts, NP tells Aquino
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—If Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his three sisters were really sincere in saying they wanted to divest their holdings in Hacienda Luisita, then why don’t they withdraw the family’s court motion to stop the distribution of the land to their tenants?
Cavite Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla hurled this challenge after recent media reports quoted Aquino’s three sisters—Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Pinky Aquino-Abellada and Viel Aquino-Dee—as saying they wished to sell their holdings in the sugar plantation but were unable to do so because of pending cases, large debts and labor problems.
“The three Aquino sisters are too economical with the truth when they say they want out of Hacienda Luisita. And yet they have not lifted a finger to withdraw the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court that would effectively pave the way for the farmers to claim ownership of the property,” Remulla said in a statement.
At any rate, Remulla said Noynoy himself should answer the issues squarely and “not hide behind the skirts of his sisters.”
According to Remulla, 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province were sold by Noynoy’s family in 1996 for P2 billion after then Governor Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco “shepherded Tarlac officials into reclassifying 3,290 hectares of Luisita from agricultural to mixed use,” said Remulla.
Out of the P2 billion, the thousands of tenant-farmers at Luisita were only given P37.5 million, he added.
Noynoy and his sisters should disclose to the public how much they pocketed out of the P2 Billion, said Remulla.
“If only 500 hectares of the 3,290 hectares were approved for reclassification into the Luisita Industrial Estate, we have the Department of Agrarian Reform to thank. Because if the Cojuangcos and Aquinos had it their way, as seen by the action of the Tarlac local government under then Governor Cojuangco, they would have transformed the entire 3,290 hectares from farmland to industrial, commercial and residential,” said Remulla.
“The Aquinos and the Cojuangcos have blood on their hands for the massacre of unarmed and hapless farmers protesting what had been going on for a long time in Hacienda Luisita. Now they want to disarm critics by saying that they really want out of the property but they have not done anything to translate their words into action,” Remulla said.
Problem they created
Regarding the debts of Hacienda Luisita, Remulla said “this was a problem they (the owners) created.”
He said the “farmers had nothing to do with such debts” and Noynoy should not use it “as a convenient excuse to justify its non-distribution to its tenants.”
On claims that the Aquino-Cojuangco family had nothing to do with controversial right-of-way payments in the SCTEx, Remulla claimed Don Pedro Cojuangco and other close relatives negotiated with the Bases Conversion Development Authority on the matter. The family was eventually paid P100 per square meter while surrounding properties were paid only P75.