To be able to take over the Central Azucarera, Don Pepe Cojuangco took out from the Manufacturer’s Trust Co. in New York a 10-year, $2.1 million loan which was “guaranteed” in a way by the Central Bank of the Philippines. The CB was headed at that time by Don Pepe’s former business partner, Gov. Miguel Cuaderno, who deposited a significant portion of RP’s international reserves with Manufacturer’s Trust to indicate that the Cojuangcos meant business in acquiring the Central. In addition, records indicate that to “sweeten the deal,” the GSIS provided a P5.9 million loan to Don Pepe to finance his purchase of Hacienda Luisita.
|Benigno Aquino Jr.|
But the significant thing was that the generous government accommodation to the Cojuangcos carried a strict stipulation that the Hacienda’s acquisition was to be at the heart of President Magsaysay’s social justice program. CB records indicate the emphasis of “a view to distributing this hacienda to small farmers in line with the Administration’s social justice program…” (CB Monetary Board Resolution No. 1240, Aug. 27, 1957), while the GSIS demand was more unequivocal: after 10 years of the Hacienda’s acquisition, it would be “subdivided among the tenants who shall pay the cost thereof under reasonable terms and conditions.” ( GSIS resolution No. 1085, May 7, 1957; GSIS resolution No.3202, Nov. 25, 1957).
The conditions for the Hacienda’s acquisition were quite clear, but it was also clear that, as critic Christian Monsod, a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution and who was in the middle of brokering the talks between the farmers and the landowners, said recently, “the Cojuangcos don’t want to let go of the land.” The Marcos government tried various ways of enforcing the redistribution scheme in the courts, to no avail, and farmers’ groups began organizing to claim their rights. When Cory Aquino became President through People Power in 1986, she made land reform the “centerpiece” of her social reform program. The new Congress drew up the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program the following year, and Aquino signed it into law on June 10, 1988.
The following was recently emailed to this blog column by someone who answers to the name ‘bejamiju’:
“THE DIFFICULT THING ABOUT PROFESSING ONE'S LOVE FOR THE POOR, ABOUT BEING HONEST OR AT THE VERY LEAST NOT BEING CORRUPT IS THAT OCCASIONALLY ONE HAS TO DO SOMETHING TO SHOW THAT HE OR SHE ACTUALLY MEANS THEM OR ELSE THEY JUST BECOME EMPTY PHRASES WORTHY OF JUST ANOTHER POLITICIAN. I GUESS IN THE CASE OF CARP AND THE HACIENDA LUISITA THIS IS SIMPLY ASKING TOO MUCH OF THE AQUINOS--- BOTH THE MOTHER AND THE SON. THE MOTHER IN THE LAST MONTHS OF HER PRESIDENCY SENT ONE OF HER CABINET SECRETARIES TO BRIEF SOME OF HER CLOSE FAMILY FRIENDS ABOUT THE STOCK OPTION ALTERNATIVE AS A WAY OUT OF CARP.
THE SON IS NOW GIVEN THAT RARE OPPORTUNITY TO RIGHT THE WRONG AND HARM DONE TO THE LUISITA FARMERS BY AT THE VERY LEAST CONDEMNING THE LAST-MINUTE ATTEMPT OF HIS FAMILY TO HANG ON TO THEIR LAND. AFTER ALL WHEN HE WAS SEEKING THEIR VOTES HE WAS PREPARED TO SAY ANYTHING, EVEN HINTING THAT HE WAS PREPARED TO CONVINCE HIS FAMILY TO SETTLE THE ISSUE ONCE AND FOR ALL IN FAVOR OF THE FARMERS. HIS SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT HIS CHARACTER AND HE CANNOT EVEN HIDE BEHIND THE LAME EXCUSE THAT HE DOES NOT WANT TO INFLUENCE THE COURTS, BECAUSE HE HAS ALREADY ON TWO OTHER OCCASIONS DONE PRECISELY THAT IN THE CASE OF TRILLANES AND LACSON. SO MUCH FOR THE HOPE OF THE COUNTRY.THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES AFTER ALL."
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