Duterte: Luisita ’greatest aberration’ of land reform program
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the exclusion of Hacienda Luisita from the government’s land reform program was the initiative’s “greatest aberration.”
Speaking at the 31st Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) anniversary celebration, the President stressed that he had “nothing against the Aquino family.”
“I have nothing against the Aquino family — the two presidents and even their family,” Duterte said in his speech, speaking partly in Filipino.
“I’d like to put it on record that, for the first two Aquino presidents, our family in Davao supported them because we believed in Corazon Aquino and I happen also to just… [she was] the best that was available at that time,” he added.
The President was referring to the late President Corazon Aquino and her son former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, his predecessor.
But the President again hit the supposed exemption of Hacienda Luisita, the Aquino family’s sugar estate in Tarlac, from the lands to be distributed to farmers, even calling it the agrarian reform’s “greatest aberration.‘
“You know, the greatest aberration of land reform was [that] the Philippines was declared — the whole of the country — as a land reform program area. But they removed Doña Luisita,” he said.
The Cory Aquino made land reform as the centerpiece of her administration’s social legislative agenda. However, her family background and social class as a privileged daughter of a wealthy and landed clan became a lightning rod of criticisms against her land reform agenda.
President Duterte earlier said Aquino made an incongruous decision of excluding the Cojuangco-owned sugar estate from the agrarian reform program. He even said that Cory only became popular because of the death of her husband, former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.
On Tuesday, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones also announced that the remaining plots of land in Hacienda Luisita left undistributed would be awarded to farmer-beneficiaries.
“aT Hacienda Luisita, we have around 112 hectares coming from the last 10 barangays which have not been covered from the past administration,” Castriciones told reporters.
“So this will be the completion of the distribution of those lands belonging to Hacienda Luisita,” he added.
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