The hacienda spans various municipalities in the province including its capital Tarlac City. The state is as large as the cities of Makati and Pasig when combined. The Hacienda Luisita was once part of the holdings of Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas better known as Tabacalera which was founded on November 26, 1881.
General Antonio Luna transported the wealth of the revolution, millions worth of gold and silver coins from Ilocos Treasury and Governor of Pampanga, the home of his girlfriend Ysidra Cojuangco. After three days, General Luna was assassinated by Aguinaldo officers. The gold treasures of the First Philippine Republic suddenly disappeared. Even the American forces couldn’t find it. And so in 1900, Ysidra Cojuangco became one of the richest women in the Philippines. Central Luzon is forever changed.
Jose Cojuancos acquired the property in 1958 through a loan from the Government Service insurance System and a dollar loan from the Manufacturers trust Company of new York which was guaranteed by the Central Bank of the Philippines. They agreed to loan Cojuangco but with two conditions:
1. Along with the Azucarera sugar mill, they must purchase the surrounding farmlands known as Hacienda Luisita.
2. After 10 years, the 6,400-hectare hacienda must be given to its small farmers
In 1968, ten years later, no land was made available to any tenant, farmer or sugar cane planter inthe hacienda Luisita. Hacienda Luisita workers formed union asked for land distribution. Still no land was distributed. In 1970s Benigno Aquino Jr. was imprisoned on false charge by Ferdinand Marcos, he was the president that time. For Marcos to touch Hacienda Luisita he also have to force Agrarian Reform into the Ysidra Cojuangco haciendas which were under the supervision of Danding Cojuangco which is close to Marcos. Thus, many haciendas around Luisita were hacked into smaller pieces but not those of the Cojuangcos.
After the assassination of Ninoy, His wife Cory was hailed as President. In compliance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), 5,000 hectares of Luisita was placed under a stock distribution agreement between the landowners and farm workers. President Cory sures that all the farmers right are recognized. If the farmers agreed for a stock distribution agreement then the plantation also would remain intact. Many haciendas, including those assembled by Ysidra Cojuangco a century before, did not qualify or the farm hands there refused the offer. Thus, the majority of all Cojuangco lands disappeared while a Cojuangco was President of the Philippines. This caused a silent rift within the Cojuangco clan. All the lands where sugarcane and molasses were derived to feed the Paniqui Sugar Mills were hocked to appease the government program and those of the angry farm workers.
After Cory stepped down as president in 1992, That was also the time that elder brother Pedro “Pete” and sons Melecio “Mel” and Fernando “Nando” entered the hacienda hoping to make it profitable. Mindful of the farm workers, they instituted very slowly the fiscal reforms to achieve this goal. In 2005, the Department of Agrarian Reform canceled the stock distribution agreement, citing that it had failed to improve the lives of more than 5 000 farmer beneficiaries. Hacienda Luisita Incorporated appealed this decision, but in May 2006, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council rejected with finality the motion of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated to reconsider the revocation of the stock distribution agreement. However, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, stopping the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council from parceling out the land to the workers.
The son of the late Cory and Ninoy Aquino is the President of the republic would he fulfill the promise of granting the hacienda Luisita? In In February 2010, during the first day of his presidential campaign, Aquino vowed to distribute the 4,500 hectare land to farmer beneficiaries saying that he is committed to ensure the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land even if he loses in the elections. distribution of Luisita is not just a campaign promise, but a matter of principle for him.
CONTEXT AND KEY ISSUE
As the generation of Cojuangco-Aquino Clan promises to distribute the land to the farmers it seemed that it was just a promise. The farm workers insist the land should be distributed for free. The first betrayal was in 1986 when the Cory Aquino Administration, through Solicitor General Frank Chavez withdrew the case filed by the government against the Cojuangco-Aquinos for the distribution of the land to the farm workers. The Marcos government had filed a case to compel the Cojuangco-Aquinos to give back the land to the farm workers, as stated in the conditions of the loan the Cojuangcos obtained from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Central Bank. The loan was used to purchase the sugar mill and the Hacienda Luisita.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila then ordered the Cojuangco-Aquinos to fulfill the condition of the loan and to distribute the land to the farm workers. They appealed the decision, however, to the Court of Appeals. While pending appeal and when Cory became president, her administration ordered the withdrawal of the case from the Court of Appeals, according to Pahilga.
The second act of betrayal was in 1989 when they chose to implement stock distribution option (SDO) in HLI instead of having the lands actually distributed to the farmers. This SDO is the root of all the misery and predicament of the farm workers. This SDO led to the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the farm workers already rejected this scheme. During the so-called referendum for the SDO, the Cojuangco-Aquinos used their private army and the military to harass and intimidate the farmers into agreeing to the SDO. Since the 2004 massacre of striking workers and supporters at the Gate 1 of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the hacienda’s sugar mill, several leaders, members and supporters of the unions and groups that are backing the strikers have been murdered.
In November 2004 twelve picketing farmers and two children were killed and hundreds were injured when police and soldiers dispatched by then Labor Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas, on behalf of the Cojuangco family, stormed a blockade by plantation workers. The protesters were pushing for fairer wages, increased benefits and, more broadly, a greater commitment for national land reform. Despite witness accounts of police, government soldiers and security personnel firing into the picket line, no arrests were made. Assasination of Cojuangco critics soon followed:
·December 8, 2004 Marcelino Beltran (witness to testify Hacienda Luisita massacre bullet trajectories)
·March 3, 2005 Councilor Abelardo Cadera (accessed documents about Luisita SDO supposed to bring it to Senate)
·March 13, 2005 Bodyguard of Cong. Noynoy Aquino shot and killed Father William Tadena (a sympathizer of Hacienda Luisita workers), witnessed by fellow priest Father Jun Flores who has gone into hiding for fear of his own life.
·March 17, 2005 Victor “Tata Ben” Concepcion, 66 years old and active supporter of Hacienda Luisita strikers.
·October 15, 2005 Florante Collante (a critic against Noynoy and his family)
·October 3, 2006 Bishop Alberto Ramento, a supporter of Luisita farmers and vocal crtic about the brutal killing of his fellow priest, stabbed 7 times.
·March 17, 2006 Tirso Cruz, leader of United Luisita Workers Union, led the protest against the construction of Noynoy Superhighway on hacienda lands claimed by farmers, shot to death in front of his father and brother
·January 5, 2005 Two months after Luisita Massacre at the west gate of Las Haciendas subdivision, again bodyguard of Cong. Noynoy Aquino opened fire at a picket line by 20 farmers, hitting George Loveland and Ernesto Ramos. Both survived, testified in Senate 7 days later but no charges were filed against anyone.
While the government allows a minimum wage of Php230.00 a day for agricultural workers, the sugar farm workers in Hacienda Luisita Incorporated receive a gross amount of only PhP194.50. Sugar farm workers in Hacienda Luisita get a monthly supply of 10 kilos of sugar which they pay for Php239.00. They should pay this amount within a month, if not, they won’t be able to get our supply for the next month. They also have a daily educational allowance of PhP9.50 per child and a school bus allowance of PhP32.00 a month. However, the actual weekly transportation expenses for a child is already Php62.00. The Cojuangcos claim that they give allowances that based on the high cost of living, but these are not enough. The basic necessities such as water and electricity were supplied without charge until 1991 when they began paying for these. As most households have no money to spare for private water connections, they get their water supply from public pumps. To earn extra income for their family some family sells fish balls and sago (pearl coolers) and getting extra income by doing the laundry or working as “special offer” ladies selling soap and toothpaste. .
“the fruit of their long, arduous struggle of more than five decades.” - Rodel Mesa, 52
Mesa, Ambala spokesman and secretary general of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma), said if the high court issued its resolution much earlier, the November 16, 2004 massacre that claimed that lives of seven farm workers would not have taken place and they will not suffer hunger.
When President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino assumed the presidency, the Hacienda Luisita was placed under the stock distribution option (SDO), a non-land transfer scheme allowed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Instead of land, stocks were distributed. The SDO, however, has failed to improve the lives of farm workers. With only one day of work per week and receiving a measly P9.50 ($0.22), farm workers staged a strike in November 2004.
When they launched the strike in 2004, they were only demanding for a salary increase and additional days of work but these were not granted. They were the ones who taught us how to fight, Nacpil said.
In December 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) ordered the revocation of the stock distribution plan (SDP) for its alleged failure to fulfill the CARL’s thrust of social justice. HLI challenged this before the SC, saying the PARC has no authority to cancel the plan. In February 2006, the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) which prevented the PARC from ordering the land distribution.
In its recent decision, the SC pointed out that “control over agricultural lands must always be in the hands of the farmers.” It further said that allowing the 6,296 beneficiaries to remain stockholders would never allow them to “gain control given the present proportion of shareholdings.”
Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano called the SC decision as “an important initial step to justice and the farmers’ struggle for genuine agrarian reform.”
The following core principles and law will be the basis for the hacienda Luisita Distribution Issue recommendations:
Republic Act No. 6657, popular as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law or CARL
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law or CARL was enacted to offer lawful basis for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP, suggesting the implementation methods as well. In fact, it was the CARL, which empowered the CARP for supporting the activities of the agro-based industries in the country.
The Hacienda Luisita must comply with what is given by the law and what was they promised to their people. The supreme court issued a decision ordering the distribution of 4,916 hectares of land to the original farmworkers benificiaries (FWBs). The high court also ordered the Hacienda Luisita Inc. to pay P1.3 billion ($30.2 million) to farm workers as their share in the proceeds of the the sale of some 580 hectares of land. DAR Undersecretary said the agency is ready to abide by the SC decision within the framework of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Decades of their farmers life was lost in fighting for their rights as one of the land owner, some of them died due to age and massacre. The Hacienda Luisita Administration has changed several times and the once who told to distribute the land died. It was not the land that lost but the most precious thing on earth is gone each day by farmers fighting for their right and so called property time is wasted by the courts decision that comes decade to be decisioned. It is a fight between blood and water where they use their own blood just to drink water and have food to eat everyday while the Cojuangcos were sitting on their soft sofa and counting their money rendered by their co-owner.
It’s about the time now for the Aquino-Cojuangcos clan to fully distribute the land to their farmers, with a new Aquino being elected as president and having his campaign slogan as “ tuwid na daan” I hope that this is not just his publicity to get the public sympathy during those elections days. His mother was loved by thousands of Filipino people, and her mother also promised to give the land to the farmers, as he maintains his mother’s legacy, it was now the time that he must fulfill the long promised of his clan mates he is pro changed and it must start with his own backyard.