Monday, June 07, 2010

Alexander Martin Remollino

Now that Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino is inexorably bound for the presidency, it is an opportune time to revisit his varying – sometimes, conflicting – campaign statements and commitments regarding Hacienda Luisita, the 6,453-hectare hacienda in Tarlac of which the Cojuangco clan claims ownership.

Hacienda Luisita, the country's second biggest family-"owned" plantation, will be an acid test for Aquino and how he will position himself on the matter of land reform – a major policy issue affecting some 75 percent of the country's population.

Near the beginning of the national electoral campaign, Noynoy said he is open to talking to his relatives about redistributing Hacienda Luisita. The he claimed there is nothing much he can do about the issue since he "owns" only 4 percent of the hacienda. Then he promised to redistribute it by 2014, the deadline for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (CARPER) Law. He next said the family does not want to redistribute the land pending the payment of all the landholding's debts. Now he says he is leaving the courts to decide on the matter.

In the first place, it is not a mere option for Noynoy to be "open" to talking to his family about redistributing Hacienda Luisita. How much of the hacienda he really owns is not an issue. The redistribution of the hacienda need not – and should not – wait until 2014. The family can, and should, redistribute the land without passing on the debts to the beneficiaries. And the Hacienda Luisita question, in the final analysis, is not something that Noynoy can just leave to the courts... READ FULL ARTICLE

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