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Cojuangcos killing land reform, group says

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A hectare of land in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac would be worth more than P2 million should the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) bow to the demand of the Cojuangco family for P10 billion in just compensation for the sugar estate, the Kilusan para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) said Thursday.

The supposed asking price would surely kill the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reform (Carper), said Katarungan spokesperson Joan Fernandez.

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“Such a demand will make the Philippine agrarian reform program the most expensive in the history of agrarian reform implementation around the world,” Fernandez added in a statement.

The national coalition of coconut farmers groups urged President Aquino to “moderate the greed” of the Cojuangcos, his relatives on his late mother’s side.

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“It is high time President Aquino stepped in and moderated the greed of his relatives. He should not allow his own relatives to undermine the reform efforts he seems to be seriously pursuing. His efforts will sound hollow if the killing of agrarian reform is happening right in his own backyard,” said Fernandez.

But lawyer Antonio Ligon, spokesperson of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), the firm created by the Cojuangco family and the farm workers in 1989 to handle its stock distribution program, said the firm had not mentioned a particular price for the land.

“What HLI, not the Cojuangcos, is asking is to base the amount of just compensation [on the value] at the time of the taking [of the property],” Ligon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said this should be in 2006 when the DAR issued the notice of agrarian reform coverage.

“No particular price is being demanded. The determination of just compensation, which approximates fair market value, must be based on the time the state or the government actually takes the property from the landowner,” Ligon said.

The Supreme Court, in a November 2011 decision ordering the DAR to distribute 4,195 hectares of the hacienda to its workers, set the time of its taking as 1989.

Teofilo Inocencio, DAR Central Luzon director, said the actual value of the land had yet to be determined.

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“The valuation issue is the subject of a motion for reconsideration by HLI. We’re waiting for the final disposition of the Supreme Court,” Inocencio said.

The court has yet to rule on the motion for reconsideration and clarification filed by HLI against the high tribunal’s November

ruling.

Fernandez noted that the P10 billion supposedly being demanded by the Cojuangcos was two-thirds of the Carper budget for 2012.

She said the amount was even higher than the total budget allocated by the DAR for the acquisition of around 300,000 hectares targeted for distribution this year.

“If this land value will prevail nationwide, the DAR will only be able to acquire less than 50,000 hectares of land in the remaining years of Carper,” Fernandez said.

Originally posted at 11:21 pm | Thursday, February 09,  2012

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TAGS: agrarian reform, Benigno Aquino III, Carper budget, Cojuangco family, Cojuangcos, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms, DAR, Department of Agrarian Reform, Hacienda Luisita, Katarungan, land dispute, Philippine Government
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