fear & loathing in/for hacienda luisita

12 August 2010

so hacienda luisita inc. has started buying off, i mean, paying off, i mean, distributing initial financial aid to farmers ranging, acc to anc, from 500 to a few thousand bucks.   grabe.   can’t blame the farmers (for caving in) but can’t say the same for the cojuangcos who are clearly defying the law.   mr. president?   hello?

from The Politics of Fear in Hacienda Luisita by Lisandro “Leloy” Claudio:

“Takot ang mga tao dito kaya hindi namin sila ma-organize. Mahirap na pag presidente ang kalaban mo (The people here are afraid, so we can’t organize them. It’s difficult when you’re up against a president),” says Kuya Bembol (pseudonym). Earlier that month, Kuya Bembol tried to take fellow farmers to an apolitical seminar on farming techniques hosted by the Katarungan NGO of Ricardo Reyes, who ran as the LP’s mayoral candidate in Pasig. Nobody took up the offer. They were afraid of any action that could be considered “political.”

This fear is not unwarranted. As I mentioned in my previous piece “Prinsipyo o Caldero: Why Noynoy won in Luisita,” the Liberal Party has the allegiance of the hacienda’s barangay captains. Since formalwork stopped in 2005, farmer-residents have been dependent on the captains to allot them plots of land to independently farm. Residents are afraid to do anything that might antagonize their respective captains.

But the fear in Luisita is more deep-seated; it has its roots in a historical trauma. The last time a Cojuangco became president, the family was able to eliminate calls for land distribution through implementing a broken and illegal Stock Distribution Option (SDO). Luisita management (and even Cory) claimed this was a valid move because the farmers voted for it in a referendum. However, according to Danny Carranza, a community organizer in the hacienda during the late 80s, farmers voted for the SDO under duress. Management told them that their jobs would be at risk if they voted against it.

According to FARM leaders, Luisita residents are afraid that the SDO or something similar to it will be implemented now that Noynoy is president. Should this happen, the Cojuangcos will once again completely control who works and who doesn’t. Put yourself in the position of a farmer. Based on what happened in the past, you believe that a Cojuangco as president will likely enable the family to have control over your livelihood once more. Should this happen, you will want a job from that family because life is hard. In a situation like this, would you risk antagonizing your landlords?

. . . Of course, P-Noy should put pressure on his family to withdraw the temporary restraining order that prevents the distribution of Luisita. He should also investigate the atrocities of the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the current trend towards the hacienda’s remilitarization.

Unfortunately, however, agrarian reform does not seem to be a priority for our new president. It also isn’t likely that he will investigate crimes associated with his family. And with the residents of Luisita scared to death, I doubt there will be significant pressure from below.

Ironically, the beacon of hope for the Luisita workers is the heavily criticized Renato Corona who will lead the Supreme Court as it decides on the legality of the SDO. If the SC scraps the SDO, it will pave the way for the distribution of the hacienda’s land to those who till it. God save the Chief Justice. The fate of farmers living in a perpetual state of fear is in his hands.

from Farmers got short end of the stick by Solita Collas-Monsod:

Let’s face it: The Luisita farm workers — the 6,296 men and women who should have been the beneficiaries of the CARP that was passed during President Cory Aquino’s term — have been getting the short end of the stick since 1989. The so-called “Compromise Agreement” the last nail in that coffin of exploitation (pardon the mixed metaphors).

The first nail in that coffin of exploitation was when, in 1989, they were either encouraged or enticed or intimidated or manipulated — remember, most of them had worked there for all of their lives in a patriarchal setting — to opt to own shares of stock in the Hacienda Luisita corporation — the so-called Stock Distribution Option (SDO), rather than to get a share of the land. The argument that they bought, or was shoved down their throat at the time, was that if the land were divided, each farm worker would be getting at most 0.78 hectares (of the 6,443 hectares of Luisita at that time, only 4,916 hectares were classified as CARP-able); while if they were own shares in the corporation, the workers would not only be getting wages, but also a share of the profits. It sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, since then, the corporation never showed any profits, and claims it has become burdened with enormous debt (which then required selling land to help pay off some of it).

The second nail in the farmers’ coffin of exploitation was pounded in almost simultaneously: The farmers got only 33% of the corporation, while the Cojuangcos, through the Tarlac Development Corporation or TDC got 67%. Why only 33% for the farmers, when their contribution to this agricultural corporation was its principal resource, mainly the land? Three reasons: the amount of land included in the CARP was only 76% of Hacienda Luisita; that “CARPable” land was undervalued; and third, the TDC contribution was overvalued. . . .

from Portent of things to come? by Rene Azurin:

. . . Actually, all this ado about a “compromise” just continues to obscure the main issue about the whole Hacienda Luisita case. The main issue — lest we forget — is that Jose Cojuangco Sr. was provided a government loan of P5.9 million and given a government guarantee (for a foreign exchange loan of US$2.1 million) to allow him to acquire the sugar estate and the sugar mill in 1957, with the express condition that the agricultural land “would be distributed to the agricultural workers” after 10 years. Well, it wasn’t.

Ten years after the hacienda was acquired, the Cojuangcos — probably not wanting to give up the enormous wealth and power that the sugar business had given them (because of the preferential prices then enjoyed by Philippine sugar in the US market) — argued that they could not comply with the distribution condition because “the place did not have a single tenant.” They then cited a law, the Land Reform Code (R.A. 3844), that exempted from expropriation agricultural lands like the sugar hacienda “where large scale operations would result in greater production and more efficient use of the land.” The scamming, not just of the farmer-beneficiaries but also of the Filipino public, began then. Clearly, it continues to this day and the fact that the land distribution was a straightforward loan condition has now been all but forgotten.

Beyond the legalities, a great injustice has been perpetuated for almost half a century against the poor farmers who’ve worked for the Cojuangcos. Many have passed away without realizing their dream of owning the tiny parcels of land that should have been divided and distributed to them in 1967. Those who survive find themselves today “already too old to till the land.” What options are realistically left to them except to take whatever is offered?

Mr. Lacierda says that Mr. Aquino “welcomes the agreement because… ang mahalaga ay ang ninanais ng farmers [what’s important is what thefarmers want].” This shows incredible insensitivity to the actual aspirations of the poor who are, once again, being taken for a ride by members of a ruling class who seem bereft of any sort of social conscience. If this is a portent of things to come, the poor might just have to abandon their hopes for social justice in a Cojuangco-Aquino administration.

29 Responses to fear & loathing in/for hacienda luisita

  1. August 12, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    Bert

    One thing is clear in this Luisita brouhaha. The tenants/farmers directly affected by the agreement and therefore should be the ones airing their concerns, are not complaining. The onlookers, the audience, who most probably are not for Noynoy during the election, are crying foul. Hehehehehe.

  2. August 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    not so, bert ;) leloy claudio, who wrote ‘the politics of fear in hacienda luisita’ campaigned for noynoy.

  3. August 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    “The tenants/farmers directly affected by the agreement and therefore should be the ones airing their concerns, are not complaining.”

    Because they are scared. It is really that simple explanation. Sabi nga ni UPnn, they were starved; they were cowed. Beggars can not be choosers.
    Some were bold to stand up for themselves. SLN na sila.

    I say, they are desperate. But let it be known that there is indeed injustice in the HLI.

    Sometimes, bert, blind loyalty makes you cross eyed :)

    These people are Cojuangcos, not Aquinos. Even Noynoy is a Cojuangco.

  4. August 12, 2010 at 9:45 pm
    Bert

    “Sometimes, bert, blind loyalty makes you cross eyed :)”

    The Ca t, can we say that also of blind hatred? Perhaps worse, it will make you astigmatic, too, :).

  5. August 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm
    GabbyD

    @cat

    yes, the farmers responses are desperate. BUT is land distribution BETTER?

    yan ang tanong.

    @bert
    my big problem is why arent 100% of the land eligible for distribution, as monsod says.

    no article i’ve seen addresses this.

  6. August 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm
    Bert

    GabbyD,

    I’m not familiar with the land reform law, but it’s easy to assume that no one in a democratic government would be so brutal as to be so bias against the landowners to pass a law that would totally deprived them 100% of their land in favor of their tenants.

  7. August 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    bert ;) “their land” hmm.

    “The main issue — lest we forget — is that Jose Cojuangco Sr. was provided a government loan of P5.9 million and given a government guarantee (for a foreign exchange loan of US$2.1 million) to allow him to acquire the sugar estate and the sugar mill in 1957, with the express condition that the agricultural land “would be distributed to the agricultural workers” after 10 years. Well, it wasn’t.”

    as i understand it, government meant that land for parceling out to farmers, kaya lang napakalakas ng mga cojuangco sa gobyerno, pumayag ang gobyerno na pautangin sila from the kaban ng bayan i presume, pumayag ang gobyerno na pagkakitaan nila ng sangkatutak na yaman how generous, but only for 10 years. they have been reneging on the agreement since 1967. they have not been rightful owners since 1967.

  8. August 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    “so bias against the landowners to pass a law that would totally deprived them 100% of their land in favor of their tenants.”

    now i believe you are not only cross eyed, :} you need some reading glasses too. 250 siguro ang dapat para mas mabisa.

    angela wrote:

    is that Jose Cojuangco Sr. was provided a government loan of P5.9 million and given a government guarantee (for a foreign exchange loan of US$2.1 million) to allow him to acquire the sugar estate and the sugar mill in 1957, WITH THE EXPRESS CONDITION THAT THE AGRICULTURAL LAND WOULD BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE AGRICULTURAL WORKERS AFTER 10 YEARS.”

    2010 na ngayon. Yumaman na ang mga Cojuangco sa HL.

    CARP was issued during the administration of Cory except that it exempted her very own Hacienda Luisita from distribution of the land.

    No I do not hate anyone. I hate the act.

    Ninoy is still my hero but not the Cojuangcos.

  9. August 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    @cat

    yes, the farmers responses are desperate. BUT is land distribution BETTER?

    yan ang tanong.

    Ang question din ay mas profitable ba ng ginawa nilang corporate farm? The FS showed losses.

    Ang issue doon ay hindi profitable o hindi, ibigay mo sa tunay na may-ari, then the farmers can just form cooperative which is also provided in the CARP.

  10. August 12, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    “@bert
    my big problem is why arent 100% of the land eligible for distribution, as monsod says. ”

    kasi nga kinonvert nila ang ibang portion para sa mall at golf. tapos yong natira lang ang agricultural farm na subject to agrarian reform.

    strategy. definitely. tama ba. HINDI.

  11. August 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm
    Bert

    angela,

    What I was saying is, if we are talking about the land reform law, it’s unfair for a law to give 100% of the landowner’s land to the farmer/tenant, leaving the landowner with nothing.

    However, going by your argument that the cojuangcos are not the rightful owner of Hacienda Luisita since 1967, then therefore, who is now the owner, is it the government? If so, are you implying that tenants of government land such as Hacienda Luisita have the right to claim ownership of lands they are occupying/farming? Or, do you think the government, being now the owner of HL, is duty-bound by law to distribute the said land to its tenants?

  12. August 13, 2010 at 5:45 am

    “being now the owner of HL, is duty-bound by law to distribute the said land to its tenants?”

    bert, basahin mo kaya ang CARP para hindi mahirapan si angela mageessplain. Sus. :)

  13. August 13, 2010 at 8:29 am
    RegularJoe

    Hmmm…

    I wonder where the government will get the money to pay the Cojuangcos for the land. If I’m not mistaken property owners of land identified for CARP distribution are entitled to “just compensation”. Not sure what the going rate for agricultural land in Luisita is but I would think 4,000+ hectares would go for several billion at least. That would surely be more than enough for Kris Aquino to fund her own presidential campaign in 2016 from her share of the spoils. The point is – it’s easy to say distribute them the the farmers, question is – are the farmers ready and do they have enough support to ensure that they can have a fair shot at a decent living after they acquire ownership of the land. Standing on principle is fine but moral victories won’t lift the farmers out of poverty. Let’s think this through.

  14. August 13, 2010 at 10:18 am
    UP nn grad

    The Cojuangcos already have a track record with regards administering the Hacienda Luisita land. I don’t believe that 60-percent of the farmers and farmers’ children are high school graduates nor has there been reports the dividends have been so generous that 20% of the households have their own pick-up trucks nor jeeps.

  15. August 13, 2010 at 10:27 am
    UP nn grad

    Just pause for a moment and consider that thought.

    Why would a farmer want the Cojuangcos to administer the Hacienda?
    The farmers are extremely poor while the administrators? The Cojuangcos as H/L administrators — the Cojuangcos are extremely rich, and the farmers are extremely poor.

    Some thing is very wrong with that picture, don’t you think so, mister regularJoe?

    Wasn’t that one of the reasons why DAR ruled against the Cojuangcos — that the Cojuangcos were “administering” this SDO-thing as a sham? What is the evidence of the sham? The farmers are extremely poor.

  16. August 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm
    manuelbuencamino

    Give the 7000 farmers what they want. We have to respect their choice because we respect them. Let’s not call them cowards or gullible because they chose the compromise deal. They are more courageou than we are because they have to live with their choice. And they are more intelligent because it is they who are living the experience everyday. The arguments of those cited saw-saweros appeal to academics not to the farmers in Luisita, except for the small minority. Anyway the way I understand it, those who want land will get land and those who want stocks and cash will get stocks and cash. So what’s the problem?

  17. August 14, 2010 at 3:50 am

    I haven’t yet seen a factual accounting of the comparative value of land vs. stock. If the fair value of the stock is low (for whatever reasons) relative to the value of the land to be given up or acquired, then it is reasonable for the tenant farmer to ask for land. But it could be the other way. Courts may not have the expertise to decide that, in which case they will have to rely on independent for that purpose.

  18. August 14, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Ang assumption ng iba rito, talagang malinaw at matapat na ipinakita ng mga Cojuangco kung ano ang reporma sa lupa. Pero ang reporma sa lupa ba ay pamamahagi lang ng lupa? O dapat may tulong ng gobyerno?

    Sabi ng mga lider-magsasaka, hindi rin sinabi kung aling lupain sa LUisita ang ipapamigay. Pero may mga lumaganap na tsismis na sa malalayong baryo daw. Eh talagang mahirap para sa mga magsasaka iyun.

    Hindi maaasahan ang mga gahaman-sa-lupang panginoong maylupa katulad ng mga Cojuangco at Aquino na maging patas sa pagpapakilala sa reporma sa lupa. At hindi sila maaasahang sikaping gawin ang mga kailangang hakbangin para magkaroon ng tunay na reporma sa lupa.

    Ito ang desisyong gustong igalang ng mga maka-Noynoy. Ito ang ginagawang batayan ni manuelbuencamino para sabihing hindi nakakahatak sa mga tao ang argumento ng mga pabor sa reporma sa lupa. Baka naman nagpapa-cute lang siya kay Kris. Hehe.

  19. August 16, 2010 at 11:31 am
    manuelbuencamino

    Teo,

    Pinakamagandang solusyon sa problema ay bilihin ninyo ang HLI sa mga stockholders pagkatapos ipamahagi ninyo ang lupa sa mga workers sa gusto man nila o hindi tapos pondohan ninyo ang pangangailanagan nila.

    Puta your money where your loud mouth is. Madamin naman kayong pera nakolekta mula sa revolutionary taxes at sa pagsuporta kay Villar kaya walang problema ang gastos sa inyo.

    Ngaw-ngaw ng ngaw-ngaw wala naman nagagawa. Put up or shut up. Sabihin mo kay Joma dumukut naman sa bulsa niya!

  20. August 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Angela,
    The details are merely illustrative, but there is a “fair division” solution to the issue. Inspired by the Old Testament story of Solomon and the baby.

  21. August 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    hmm interesting, orlando ;) so much seems to depend on the cojuangcos’ and the aquino admin’s good faith and political will

  22. August 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Angela, I suppose it’s a constitutional rights issue also, as there is a right to due process of law before any deprivation of life, liberty, or property, and that right is subject to equal protection (Art. III, Sec. 1).

    One of my law school profs once said that Philippine law is very protective of private property – more so than of contract. This proves his point.

    Of course, the President can do a King Solomon and confront the two claimants in a wise way. One hopes.

  23. August 18, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    As someone says beggars can’t be choosers; MB says let them 7000 choose and let us respect their choice…oo nga naman, who is to say who are beggars. I am telling you people MB would make better spokesperson for Noynoy than Edwin Lacierda.

  24. August 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    On the other hand, if we should reflect deeply, SDO was not so bad an idea at all, at least on the academic/theoretical level. The devil is in the details, as they say. Were the Cojuangcos wise men instead of “wais”, it would be altogether different. Ang kaso, the heroic and saintly qualities that we made of Ninoy and Cory, we have mistakenly reflected back on them. Mas malapit pala sila sa qualities and attributes nung mga ibang ninuno: mga magugulang.

  25. August 18, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Hus, saksakan ng yaman at saksakan ng hirap na iyang nakikita, yung iba diyan parang wala lang… hahaha. Galit na galit sa NBN-ZTE scandal jueteng scandal, le cirque dinner scandal at marami pang iba, pero walang nakikitang diperensya sa Hacienda Luisita, sus! Hacienda Luisita is how much?

  26. August 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Even for President Noynoy’s very “minuscule” 1% share, let us hear it from him: magkano ang dividends mo diyan yearly?

  27. August 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    im out of here.

  28. August 18, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    @ ricelander ;) mismo3 di ko nga maintindihan kung bakit kung kelan nag SDO e saka naman daw nagkalugilugi at nagkautangutang…

  29. January 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm
    Toby Valdeabella

    Reaction about the shared stocks of hacienda luista to the tenants is it legal or illegal fair or not fair?

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