THAT the Cojuangco side of the family of President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd received P471.5 million as just compensation for Hacienda Luisita deserves a closer scrutiny by the honest and true proponents of the country’s agrarian reform law.
It may be true that of the P471.5 million that was paid the Cojuangcos as owners of Hacienda Luisita, P304 million represented the cost of the land and the rest the interest of Land Bank bonds held by the family. But Land Bank officials should not simply recite the amounts of “just compensation” and bond earnings but should explain the whole amount in details. Was it enough to pay for the entire hacienda or only for a part of it?
Not only the Land Bank but more importantly the hacienderos had a lot of explaining to do to justify the haste by which they were paid by the government for their land. What could be the secret or secrets of the success of the deal between them?
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Anyway, while most Filipinos outside the yellowish tribe that remain loyal followers of the Cojuangco-Aquinos are waiting for either Land Bank or the Cojuangcos to provide details of the payment for the Luisita land, Due Diligencer is doing some computations based on available data, such as the amount paid for the land, the remaining 4,915 hectares of the hacienda and the 6,296 agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries.
Due Diligencer can only go by assumptions. If P304 million was payment for 4,915 hectares, this would translate to P61,851 per hectare, or P6.185 per square meter. This would be too cheap for the landowners to accept since they had sold to the government 80.51 hectares at P100,000 per hectare or P10,000 per square meter.
But let Due Diligencer assume that P471.5 million, including the interest on bonds held by the family, was the just compensation. Then the next step would be to divide this by 4,915 hectares and the result would be a much higher price of P95,938 per hectare or P9.593 per square meter. Definitely, this would still not be satisfactory compensation for the Cojuangcos.
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Here is the big BUT. Wasn’t Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) formed during the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino after she had signed the amended agrarian reform law allowing the distribution of certificates of shares of stock instead of land to the hacienda’s tenants? If this is the case, how come the Aquino administration allowed Land Bank to pay the Cojuangcos P471.5 million for the land that had yet to be distributed to 6,296 tenants?
If the land payment itself could be questionable, the use of government money allocated by the Aquino-Abad team under the now infamous Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP should be the worst kind of expenditure made by the Aquino regime.
Let Due Diligencer go back to the Aquino One presidency. As a stock corporation, HLI was to distribute 118,391,977 shares or 37 percent of the company’s capital stock to qualified tenant beneficiaries. Computed, each of the hacienda’s 6,296 farmers would get 18,804.317 shares each.
(A Due Diligencer piece titled “The Failure of Cory’s legacy to her family”, which was published here on Feb. 29, 2014, computed the land’s value based on the P10 billion “just compensation” for the Cojuangcos that was generously suggested by then Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Incidentally, Aquino later promoted Sereno to chief justice.)
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The Cojuangcos distributed pieces of paper to their tenants instead of farm land because Cory the president was a member of the family. Yes, in adopting corporate agrarian reform, she had succeeded in protecting her family’s property but only temporarily, because the agrarian officials during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had recalled Cory’s stock distribution agrarian reform scheme.
As events had shown, the former president found an ally in the high tribunal which declared illegal HLI’s stock distribution to its tenants.
But Aquino the son as president of this country had Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached with the help of the votes of 20 senators and the subservient members of the House of Representatives. Sometimes obedience pays handsomely in dividends, more often in cash. As for Macapagal-Arroyo, she remains in jail, her incarceration apparently the punishment imposed on her by a vindictive president.
Today, there are questions that beg for answers. Was Hacienda Luisita the stock corporation paid P304 million for the “actual cost of the land”? If so, did the company deserve payment for the shares of stock it gave the farmers in lieu of farm land?
Finally, HLI was richer by P471.5 million while its 6,296 farmers, who were forced to become stockholders, found themselves co-owning a company with an accumulated deficit of P1.326 billion as of 2011. Instead of receiving dividends, the farmers’ 37 percent ownership in HLI would make them “holders” of P490.62 million in deficit, or poorer by P77,926 each.
Thanks to former President Macapagal-Arroyo and Chief Justice Corona, Hacienda Luisita the stock corporation set up by the Cojuangcos to retain ownership of their hacienda should be up for dissolution.
But before HLI goes, should it not first account for the P471.5 million in DAP money?