According to both the Manila Standard and Pulse Asia Surveys, Aquino and Villar are in a statistical deadlock – given the +/- 2 margin of error, the two are practically tied in the presidential race.
Having squandered a 30 percentage point lead over Villar in just three months, Aquino now takes on a self-led offensive against the Nacionalista standard bearer. The accusation: Villar is GMA’s secret candidate.
Failing to inflict serious damage to derail the Villar juggernaut with the C5 issue, Aquino must however respond to several questions about his own credibility before he can effectively question another’s:
Q1. The ZTE, Hello Garci, North and South Rail controversies among others – issues against President Arroyo and her administration – were all investigated during Manuel Villar’s stint as Senate President. Why did Aquino ally himself with Juan Ponce Enrile, a known palace hatchet man, in a coup that replaced Villar with an administration lackey?
Q2. No major issue of corruption or abuse of authority, for which the Arroyo administration has been accused on several occasions, was investigated after Enrile became Senate President. Instead, Arroyo and her ally Enrile turned the tables on Villar and investigated him on the C5 issue. Why did Aquino participate in the inquisition of a colleague and fellow oppositionist, in an alliance that would have Noynoy following the lead of his parent’s traditional enemy, Enrile, the self-confessed author of Martial Law?
Q3. Supposedly running on a platform of change and principled politics, why does Aquino immerse himself in the filth of political persecution? Moreover, why does he condone political turncoatism, and allow known palace allies access to his Liberal party?
It will be remembered that on November 2009, the Liberal Party said it has sworn in about 125 local officials and other key administration allies that have left Lakas-Kampi-CMD.
These include Alaminos, Pangasinan Mayor Hernani Braganza, Pangasinan Rep. Victor Agbayani, North Cotabato Rep. Bernardo Pi ñol Jr., Cavite Gov. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi, the Osmena clan of Cebu, and Cesar Montano – the actor who ran for senator in the 2007 elections under the administration party, but lost. Noynoy’s girlfriend Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, also comes from the same Lakas party, and despite the absence of solid legislative credentials is now the LP official congessional candidate for Valenzuela.
Noynoy’s uncle, Jose “Peping Cojuangco,” current president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, is a founding member of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), the political party of Arroyo, and is associated with the infamous “Kamag-Anak Inc.’’ or relatives of the late former President Corazon Aquino who allegedly made hay during her term from 1986 to 1992.
Q4. How does he explain how many of his relatives are / were in Arroyo’s employ? These include his aunts, former Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, who is the head of the Early Childhood Care and Development Council under the Office of the President, former Gov. Margarita Cojuangco, president of the Public Safety College under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, President Arroyo’s image consultant. Paul Aquino, who is now the chief political officer in Noynoy’s campaign, is the CEO of Energy Development Corp. under the state firm Philippine National Oil Co. The present Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Eleazar Quinto, is married to Kashiwahara’s daughter.
Q5. How did his family benefit from the Aquino administration specific to the SCTEX issue?
How does he explain this bit of history that has now come back to haunt his candidacy and prove his accusation to Villar more applicable to himself?
5000 Landworkers to lose jobs in Cojuangco-Arroyo Land Plan
PUBLISHED ON FEBRUARY 6, 2005
A land use plan which contains the comprehensive land conversion of the entire Hacienda Luisita into a commercial and industrial complex will likely force more than 5,000 plantation workers out of their jobs. The LUP includes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTE).
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
A land use plan (LUP) which contains the comprehensive land conversion of the entire Hacienda Luisita into a commercial and industrial complex will likely force more than 5,000 plantation workers out of their jobs. Designed by the SWA Group for the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) in 1998, the LUP includes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTE).
The LUP is touted by its owners as the next important commercial and industrial hub in Central Luzon .
But the plan itself could hit some snags.
Officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon City, however, said that except for the 500 hectares that were allowed to be converted into industrial and residential park in 1995, no other application for land conversion plan or the SCTE itself has been received by their office.
Interviewed by Bulatlat Feb. 3, Marichu Mariano, legal officer of DAR’s Center for Land Use Policy Planning and Implementation (CLUPPI), said the SCTE plan cannot be implemented unless the landowners (the Cojuangco-Aquino family) apply for its conversion.
The DAR official also said Hacienda Luisita’s farm workers should be consulted whether they agree to the new conversion. If the farmer beneficiaries say no, they could file a protest at the DAR office.
Mariano warned however that any protest could only delay the project but could not stop the conversion. At most, she said, the farmer beneficiaries who stand to lose their jobs could only expect a “just compensation.”
The Hacienda Luisita land use plan, a copy of which was obtained by Bulatlat, shows that the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino plan to convert all its agricultural lands in Tarlac into commercial, industrial, residential and recreational parks.
Located 120 kms north of Manila , the 6,443-ha sugarcane plantation, mill and refinery lies in the tri-boundary of the municipalities of Tarlac province – Tarlac City , Concepcion and La Paz .
Approved for re-classification by the Office of the Sangguniang Bayan on Sept. 1, 1995 through Resolution No. 280, Hacienda Luisita has been included in the zoning map of the municipality of Tarlac .
On the other hand, the LUP submitted by its developer, LRC – a subsidiary of the Jose Cojuangco and Sons, Inc. or JCSI – covers 3,290 hectares of the 4,915-hectare sugarcane plantation. The plantation is also owned and operated by another JCSI subsidiary, the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI).
The SCTE, on the other hand, is part of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s pet project, the Global Gateway – an inter-modal transportation park using the Subic Container Port Terminal and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport .
The Global Gateway project is under the Subic and Clark Economic Zones which the president included in the 10-point agenda she aims to achieve in her new six-year term.
In a recent speech, the President admitted that she has spearheaded this project since she was secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) several years ago.
The P18.7-billion SCTE will stretch 90 kms from Concepcion and will exit northward between La Paz and Tarlac City . The 60-meter-wide expressway will pass through sugarcanes in the middle of the hacienda slicing through six of the hacienda’s 11 barangays (villages) – Balete, Central, Cut-Cut II, Lourdes (Texas), Mapalacsiao and Bantog.
The ambitious project will rip up around 66 hectares of sugarcane and is being implemented by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) through a loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). BCDA pronouncements say it is expected to operate this year barring any problems from acquiring the right of way.
The President’s SCTE is planned to provide the shortest, direct and efficient artery linking up economic areas in Central Luzon, particularly the Subic Bay Special Economic Zone and Freeport Zone in Zambales, the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and the Luisita Industrial Park in Tarlac, the BCDA further said.
The proposed road alignment will cut across rivers and lahar watersheds, and will include the construction of 35 bridges and minor drainage structures.
Meanwhile, a Tarlac city councilor, Abel Ladera, said the construction of the expressway in the heart of the sugar plantation only confirms what many farm workers fear: that Hacienda Luisita is being designed to be part of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s commercial and industrial program.
“Sinasabay ng mga Cojuangco ang lupain ng asyenda sa comprehensive plan ng bansa,” said Ladera, who chairs the city council’s committee on labor and employment.
A check into the LUP shows that the Cojuangcos do not intend to retain parcels of land for agriculture. Consequently, more than 5,000 sugar farmers face to lose their jobs and worse, their right to Hacienda Luisita as farm beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the centerpiece program of the post-dictator administration of Cojuangco-Aquino.
Ladera however explained that the LUP as a whole is long-term since the entire agricultural land (4,415 hectares out of the original 6,443 hectares) is still under contract for 30 years through the Stock Distribution Option (SDO).
The SDO is a scheme under the CARP that allows the landowner to form a corporate farm and distribute stocks instead of land to tenants.
The scheme has been denounced as an instrument used by landlords and allowed by government to evade CARP.
Hacienda Luisita was formerly owned by the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco). It formed a spin-off corporation, the HLI, in order to operationalize the SDO in 1989. It essentially made the farm beneficiaries part-owners of the corporate farm over 33 percent of its stocks that are supposed to be distributed to more than 5,000 of them within 30 years, the life span of the stock scheme.
In a previous interview with Bulatlat, lawyer Vigor Mendoza, HLI’s vice president for external affairs, in effect, confirmed the farmer beneficiaries’ fears of losing their right to the hacienda when he said that they are to benefit only from the gross sales of the agricultural lands. Once the land is converted to other uses and sold to other companies, the farmer beneficiaries will cease to benefit from it, he said.
Getting ready for the full-blast conversion, several parts of the hacienda have been converted to industrial, commercial, residential and recreational purposes since 1989, for instance: the Luisita Industrial Park 1 (120 has.), the Aqua Farm and Homesite Phases I and II (50 has.), the Luisita Business Park (20 has.), the recently-converted Luisita Industrial Park 2 or the Central Techno Park (500 has.).
Exclusive residential areas include the Family Park Homes Subdivision, the Don Pepe Cojuangco Subdivision (Phases 1-4) and the Las Haciendas Industrial Subdivision. The St. Luis Subdivision is also under development.
Part of the provisions set by the re-classification of the hacienda land is for the Cojuangcos to “establish a vocational training center to provide residents free and affordable means of acquiring technical skills required by prospective investors.”
Councilor Ladera said the owners of the hacienda have established training centers to condition the minds of the farmer beneficiaries and their kin to accept the land use plan. “Their target is to shift them from agricultural to industrial workers,” he said.
However, Ladera belied the Cojuangcos’ claim that the hacienda farmers will be given preferential jobs. While, for instance, the LIP-1 houses 15 medium-industries, only 20 percent of its 6,000-workforce comes from the hacienda.
Plantation workers who are trained into industrial workers cannot expect better opportunities, Ladera also said. Presently, whether as farm workers or industry laborers, the people suffer from low wages and job insecurity.
In fact, he said, the semi-conductors in LIP 1 are starting to retrench regular workers and are hiring casual workers. From 3,500, the number of regular workers at LIP 1 is down to 2,800 at the end of last year with about 1,500 hired as casuals. They have also introduced an early retirement scheme since September last year.
Who’s to gain?
Rene Galang, president of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), said in an interview with Bulatlat that plantation workers stand to gain nothing from the land conversion program of Hacienda Luisita.
Although he said their union welcomes the President’s intervention to have the labor dispute solved peacefully, Galang said their union still holds the president accountable for the Nov. 16 massacre of seven strikers, accusing her of colluding with the Cojuangcos to break the strike by force.
Aside from hundreds of policemen from all over Central Luzon , Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas deputized several companies of soldiers from the Tarlac-based Northern Luzon Command to end the strike.
In two recent Senate hearings over the Nov. 16 massacre in Tarlac, opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said that only the President, as commander in chief, can deputize the military. The senator insisted that the labor secretary’s deputization of the military to effect her assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) order had the blessings of the President.