Hacienda Luisita: The Biggest Haul PNoy Cronies, Oligarchs Could Ever Make!
I was engaged in a very interesting, informative discussion in one Facebook group in which the main topic was the controversial
ruling of the Supreme Court on the Hacienda Luisita case. It’s now final: Hacienda Luisita is up for redistribution… and — here’s the killer– its valuation was artificially reduced to 1989 prices!
Someone made this post on Facebook: “Most of you won’t agree with me on this. This time I am for the Aquino family when it comes to receiving just compensation. I believe the majority of the SC justices made a frivolous decision with regards to the land distribution of HL. How I have wanted HL to be distributed to the farmers but not like this.”
As usual we tackled the history of the embattled land before issuing our own personal verdict. Some of the participants said that the ruling serves as a ‘just compensation’.
But many agreed that the property should have been distributed to tenants a long, long time ago. So we had to settle the issue- whether the Cojuangcos stole that property from its legal owners, or whether they used the government to enrich themselves.
So, I posted the following to start a new discussion:
I don’t know the exact, full facts of this case since I didn’t read the court ruling.
However, I have two questions for everyone:
1. Did the Cojuangcos STEAL, LOOT, GRAB that embattled piece of property from its actual, legal owners?
2.) OR: Did they use STOLEN MONEY in acquiring that property?
IF the real case were (1), then I think the most logical and rational legal remedy is to give back that property to its actual, legal owners. But did the supposedly legal owners file a case against the Cojuangcos? I think the answer is NO.
BUT IF it were (2), then the best legal remedy is not to redistribute that property to some group of individuals (although we know the Cojuangcos, thru Cory, promised to redistribute it because of her land reform program). The best remedy is to prove that they actually used an ‘ill-gotten’ wealth in obtaining HL. The existence of HL is not a prima facie evidence that the early Cojuangcos were guilty. After all, I believe that we ought to be a nation of laws, not of men.
BTW, I AM AGAINST LAND REFORM… any form of land reform.
Someone told me that the property “was supposed to be distributed to the tillers some time in the 60s” due to an agreement between the government and the Cojuangcos. So we learned that the oligarchic family got benefitted from the loan agreement, and the government demanded in return that the hacienda be redistributed to tenants.
Then someone shared the following ‘facts’:
August 1957: The Philippine government facilitated the Cojuangcos’ takeover of Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac by:
(1) Providing Central Bank (CB) support to help the Cojuangcos obtain a dollar loan from the Manufacturer’s Trust Company (MTC) in New York for the purchase of the sugar mill (Central Azucarera de Tarlac). The CB had to deposit part of the country’s dollar reserves with MTC for MTC to release Cojuangco’s loan. The CB’s intervention was done under the condition that Cojuangco would also acquire Hacienda Luisita, not just the sugar mill, “with a view to distributing the hacienda to small farmers.”
(2) Granting the Cojuangcos a peso loan through the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to purchase the hacienda.
November 25, 1957: The GSIS approved the loan made by the Cojuangcos amounting to P5.9 million, on the condition that Hacienda Luisita would be “subdivided among the tenants who shall pay the cost thereof under reasonable terms and conditions.”
However, four months later, Jose Cojuangco Sr. asked the GSIS to change the phrase to “…shall be sold at cost to tenants, should there be any.” (itals by ed.) This phrase would be cited later on as justification not to distribute the hacienda’s land.
April 8, 1958: Jose Cojuangco, Sr.’s company, the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO), became the new owner of Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac.
Ninoy Aquino, President Cory’s husband and President Noynoy’s father, was appointed the hacienda’s first administrator.
I argued that Hacienda Luisita is a product of injustice and cronyism/’oligarchism’. Since our political system and Constitution (during that period) legalized cronyism, the government had the leeway and authority to enter into an economic-political agreement with the Cojuangcos, a family that apparently became rich and powerful due to cronyism and political connection.
The story is that the Cojuangcos used the government to acquire more capital for the purchase of Central Azucarera de Tarlac. The very helpful and friendly regime of former president Ramon Magsaysay was ready to lend a helping hand to the then budding oligarchic family. Why not? He was a wedding ninong of Cory and Ninoy. But Magsaysay’s political help came with a single condition. So perhaps Magsaysay said: “OK. You can have the money, but you also need to acquire Hacienda Luisita, which you’re going to distribute to ‘small farmers’ later. Understood?”
Of course, the family patriarch Jose “Pepe” Cojuangco agreed- and smiled, with pleasure. I can also surmise he made the following line: “I will accept any condition, Mr. President. You know I’m an altruistic businessman like you. We also in business to help the little people. And I certainly agree with your slogan… ‘those who have less in life should have more in law.’ So let the little people have more… in law.”
Perhaps Magsaysay made that condition to help the little farmers in Tarlac. He must have thought: “I gave them what they came for. A million dollar loan to buy a sugar company? That’s a lot of money. That’s a huge business opportunity, too. But I need to help the poor, particularly the Hacienda Luisita farmers. I am a pro-poor leader. I am selfless. This is my way to help those little farmers.”
Of course I cannot simply put self-incriminating words into a dead man’s mouth. But whether or not Magsaysay actually entertained that idea, in whole or in part, reality has it that he was darn wrong! He was wrong from the very beginning.
Magsaysay’s intention in ‘somehow’ pressuring the political clan into purchasing Hacienda Luisita was crystal clear– to have that land redistributed to ‘small farmers’. That was his so-called ‘noble’ intention. But he was already a dead man when the Cojuangcos brazenly reneged on their promise. In fact, Jose Cojuangco double-crossed the government when he altered the condition.
So, the multi-million dollar deal was sealed, with the help of the government. The Cojuangcos became filthy rich over night. See? If you think you’re politically connected, you can easily get rich, just like Mike Defensor who used the helping hand of Mrs. Arroyo to acquire two mining companies in Zambales.
However, we all know that the Cojuangcos reneged on their promise to distribute Hacienda Luisita to those ‘small farmers’.
It now appears that the Cojuangcos were not just oligarchs! They were also double-crossers! Well, oligarchs are indeed double-crossers, but not all double-crossers are oligarchs. They are the hybrid of all double-crossers. The country’s most powerful political clan successfully double-crossed the government! After getting the money they needed to be so filthy rich and so politically powerful, they also got a very lucrative hacienda with the help of altruistic president Magsaysay who was later on killed in a plane crash. What a double whammy!
After the lapse of the ten-year window period stipulated in the agreement, the Cojuangco family refused to surrender the hacienda. Well, they could always refuse since:
- They became officially oligarchs and filthy rich that they could easily control the interventionist government with their money!
- Jose Cojuangco managed to change the wordings of Magsaysay’s condition.
- Some family members entered politics to protect the family’s growing empire. After all, they were elected by the very people they double-crossed! Isn’t that ironic?
- Magsaysay was already dead. That poor ol’ man must have been rolling in his grave. Poor, poor man. He was hoodwinked by his own delusion that his welfare government could actually help the little people.
Let’s not forget the craftiness of Jose Cojuangco who managed to alter the intent of the agreement. He was able to change the condition. From the original condition, which mandates Hacienda Luisita should be “subdivided among the tenants who shall pay the cost thereof under reasonable terms and conditions”, the man changed it to: “…shall be sold at cost to tenants, should there be any.”
The family then contended that “there were no tenants on the hacienda, hence no need to distribute land.” Well, it’s because Jose Cojuangco fooled the government… again.
When Marcos came to power, he tried to distribute the land to the ‘small farmers’, but failed. A case against the Cojuangco family was filed in 1980. The Cojuangcos responded a year later that Hacienda Luisita could not be distributed because it did not have tenants and that that sugar lands were not covered by existing agrarian reform legislation. Also, the family found strong allies and sympathizers in anti-Marcos groups that claimed the case was an act of harassment against Ninoy Aquino’s family. Were these the same groups that protested the family during former president Cory Aquino’s presidency?
But when Cory Aquino came to power everything changed! The Yellow regime dropped the Marcos case against the Cojuangcos.
A lot of protesters were killed during the January 22, 1987 “Mendiola Massacre.”
And here’s the most wicked, most corrupt Yellow political trick of all: the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) system embedded in Cory’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. What is this SDO all about? Well, it’s a mode of complying with the land reform law that did not require actual transfer of the land to the farmers.
But what does this political gimmick actually imply?
If it’s still not clear to many people, especially those who supported Cory’s land reform law, let me spell this out: the SDO legitimized, legalized, blessed the Cojuangco family’s ownership of Hacienda Luisita, which should have been distributed in 1967! Those who supported that oligarchic scheme were the Philippine’s early useful idiots!
The following events took place in 1989, a single year that defines the Supreme Court’s hilarious ruling:
The Cojuangcos justified Luisita’s SDO by saying it was impractical to divide the hacienda’s 4,915.75 hectares of land among 6,296 farm workers because this would give farmers less than one hectare of land each (or 0.78 hectares of land per person).
May 9, 1989
Luisita’s farm workers were asked to choose between stocks or land in a referendum. The SDO won 92.9% of the vote. A second referendum and information campaign were held five months later and the SDO won again, getting 96.75% of the vote.
Father Joaquin Bernas, a 1987 Constitutional Commission member, said Luisita’s SDO is inconsistent with the Constitution. “The [SDO] is a loophole because it does not support the Constitution’s desire that the right of farmers to become owners of the land they till should be promoted by government,” Bernas said in his June 27, 1989 column in the Manila Chronicle.
When the CARP was implemented in Hacienda Luisita in 1989, the farm workers’ ownership of the plantation was pegged at 33 percent, while the Cojuangcos retained 67 percent.
Luisita’s SDO agreement spelled out a 30-year schedule for transferring the stocks to the farm workers:
“At the end of each fiscal year, for a period of 30 years, the SECOND PARTY (HLI) shall arrange with the FIRST PARTY (TADECO) the acquisition and distribution to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers) on the basis of number of days worked and at no cost to them of one-thirtieth (1/30) of 118,391,976.85 shares of the capital stock of the SECOND PARTY (HLI) that are presently owned and held by the FIRST PARTY (TADECO), until such time as the entire block of 118,391,976.85 shares shall have been completely acquired and distributed to the THIRD PARTY (farm workers).”
November 21, 1989
Then-Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor-Santiago approved the SDO agreement of Luisita. However, Santiago’s tenure at the DAR only lasted two months. In 2005, Santiago, already a senator, said Cory allegedly removed her from the DAR because of a comment she made to the media—that Cory should inhibit herself from being the chairperson of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which approves SDO agreements.
What do these events suggest? They suggest that the Aquino-Cojuangco family FOOLED the government and the entire Filipino nation, not just once, not twice, certainly not thrice, but many times over. In fact, this nation is about to get fooled again… under the presidency of a Yellow regime
Now let’s have a recap.
It all started with that corrupt government-private partnership or agreement between the Cojuangcos and the welfarist Magsaysay regime. And this was made possible by the country’s welfare system that permits corporatism to flourish at the expense of the people’s future and freedom.
The spooky ‘social justice’ guy who sent, albeit unwittingly, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan to power was none other than Ramon Magsaysay. May he rest in peace. Magsaysay was the biggest Filipino kingmaker of all time. Yes, he was one of the country’s biggest useful idiots!
In regard to that so hilarious a decision of the Supreme Court, here’s my commentary:
THE BIGGEST, MOST LUCRATIVE INVESTMENT A PNOY CRONY COULD EVER MAKE!
We now know that the geniuses (well, not all of them) in the Supreme Court, in their controversial decision, pegged the embattled Hacienda Luisita on 1989 prices.
I say, what an injustice. What a very, very foolish decision! If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could theorize that some powerful cronies must be behind that SC collegial decision. Some people must have BETTED on this HL issue in order to make billions of profits after.
Now let’s do the Math…
1. The SC decision placed the 1989 value of the 4,335-hectare Hacienda Luisita at P173 million.
2. What’s the present-day value of HL? P9.75 billion.
3. That means anyone who’s lucky enough to make a P173 million loan with the government can become a billionaire overnight! Isn’t that great?
What are you waiting for, cronies and oligarchs?
Let’s make a fiction story out of this tragedy…
Let’s say a crony close to PNoy is interested in that property. This crony thinks he could make billions out of his investment overnight. Since he’s close to the President, he could easily borrow money from GSIS (or any government-owned bank or financing institution). Or: it could be a group of cronies close to PNoy. It could be PNoy or the Aquino-Cojuangco clan itself…This is possible! Of course everything is possible nowadays… with the current regime!