Pay Hacienda Luisita workers before donating to Akbayan


    ANGELES CITY- If the sisters of Pres. Aquino could donate as much as P14 million campaign funds for the Akbayan party list in the 2010 polls, they must also be readily capable of paying workers of Hacienda Luisita the P1.33-billion share from the sale of some 580 hectares of hacienda lands.

    “We advise Mrs. Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Mrs. Viel Aquino-Dee and Ms Kris Aquino to prioritize paying their family’s debts to Hacienda Luisita workers,” said a statement issued yesterday by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

    Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France stressed that the President’s family “is legally obliged to give the shares of farm worker beneficiaries according to the decision of the Supreme Court, nothing more, nothing less.”

    In November last year, the Supreme Court, headed then by former Chief Justice Renato Corona, ordered the distribution of lands at Hacienda Luisita, in lieu of stock distribution option (SDO).

    The high court also ordered Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), owned by the President’s family, to also turn over to the land reform beneficiaries P1.33 billion as their share from the sale of 580 hectares it had sold to other parties.

    “They (members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family) should honor their obligations and debts to Luisita farm workers in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court and in consonance with agrarian justice,” France added.

    The campaign contribution of the Aquino sisters surfaced amid two disqualification cases filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against Akbayan.

    Pamalakaya, one of the groups which filed the disqualification case, said the P 14-million campaign contribution donated by the presidential sisters was “an evidence that Akbayan is not marginalized but a party in power supported by well-funded machinery and allies of Malacañang.”

    The President defended his sisters and Akbayan party list, saying that the contribution was raised from supporters and sympathizers.

    He also hit leftist groups, saying their campaign funds were sourced from illegal ‘taxes’ forcibly extracted from logging and mining companies under pain of their installations and equipment being burned and their personnel harmed.

    “Instead of going into usual mudslinging and red-baiting escapades, the Cojuangco-Aquino family should comply with the Supreme Court verdict before the year ends, not when the President’s term ends,” France added.

    France warned that farm workers would take over the milling plant and other properties at the hacienda should the Cojuangco-Aquino family fail to comply with the high tribunal’s decision.

    The HLI management had claimed that it incurred P2-billion debt from businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the president’s uncle, prompting the high court last December to order the Department of Agrarian Reform to audit the books of the hacienda management.


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