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Hacienda Luisita is a 6,435-hectare plantation estate located in Tarlacmarker, Philippinesmarker, owned by the Cojuangco family, which includes former Philippine President Cory Aquino and her son, the 2010 presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino.

The estate is as large as the cities of Makatimarker and Pasigmarker combined.

History

Hacienda Luisita was once part of the holdings of Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas, better known as Tabacalera. The estate is named after Luisa, the wife of the head of Tabacalera, Don Antonio Lopez, when the company acquired the estate in 1882. In the 1950s, the onset of the Hukbalahap rebellion led the Spanish owners of Tabacalera to sell Hacienda Luisita and the sugar mill Central Azucarera de Tarlac. The Cojuangcos 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 Yorkmarker, which was guaranteed by the Central Bank of the Philippines. At present, the property is owned and managed by Hacienda Luisita Incorporated which was established on August 23, 1988.

In compliance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, nearly 5,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita were placed under a stock distribution agreement between the landowners and farm workers. However, 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.

Criticism

The Cojuangcos have often garnered criticism for their ownership of the estate. Leftists have painted it as a symbol of the country's paralyzing oligarchy, with the country's most powerful figures all having stakes in the property. The estate's incorporators, who control 70 percent of Hacienda Luisita's stock shares, are Noynoy Aquino's uncles and aunts; Pedro Cojuangco, Josephine Reyes, Jose Cojuangco, Jr., Teresita A. Lopa, and Paz Teopaco, all brothers and sisters of Cory Aquino. The remaining 30 percent of the stock shares was given to farm workers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program's stock distribution option scheme.

Hacienda Luisita has remained an issue for the late former president Cory Aquino and her son, current presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino, for their rejection of calls to let go of the property and conflict of interest. Land reform was a major issue during Cory Aquino's presidency as she pushed for its national redistribution while refusing to relinquish her own family's estate.

Noynoy Aquino has expressed the opinion that it would be better for his family to give up their rights to the estate, stating that as long as they were involved, the issue of land redistribution there would always be politically-colored.

Luisita massacre

On November 16, 2004, twelve picketing farmers and two children were killed and hundreds were injured when police and soldiers dispatched by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Labor Secretary Patricia Sto Tomas 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, soldiers and security personnel firing into the picket line, no arrests were made. The controversy remains as a sore spot on Cory Aquino's legacy and Noynoy Aquino's presidential bid.

See also



References


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