Board reviews Hacienda Luisita toll
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has started a “legal review” on the right of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to collect toll on a private road that the company built and linked to the Luisita interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) in Tarlac City, an official of the agency said.
The review would serve as basis of a TRB decision to allow or stop HLI from collecting a “service fee” of P20 from SCTEx users, TRB spokesperson Julius Corpuz said by telephone on Sunday.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Friday said the TRB should “muster the guts to stop the President’s relatives’ arbitrary and illegal acts [which are] tantamount to extortion and corruption.”
President Aquino has no share in the HLI, according to a financial document furnished by HLI counsel Antonio Ligon. HLI is 70 percent owned by the Tarlac Development Corp., a company run by the Cojuangco clan. Mr. Aquino’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, was a member of the clan.
At least 30 percent of HLI, in the form of shares of stock, is held by farm workers in the 6,000-hectare sugar estate straddling Tarlac City and the towns of Concepcion and La Paz in Tarlac.
Corpuz said the TRB has verified that the Barangay San Miguel access road is “privately owned and not part of the expressway.”
One of HLI’s owners, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., asserted that view as motorists opposed paying P20 for passing through the 7.5-km road starting March 17. Cojuangco said the HLI built the 5-km San Miguel road and extended it by another 2.5-km in 2006.
An April 3, 2006, letter by his elder brother HLI president Pedro Cojuangco to Narciso Abaya, then president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), committed to finish the road to link what he called the Luisita Parkway (now the Luisita Industrial Park) to an interchange of the SCTEx.
BCDA, owner of the 94-km SCTEx, reported spending P34.106 billion on the project, which was funded by loans from the Japanese government (79 percent) and a counterpart fund from the Philippine government (21 percent). BCDA bought 80 ha from HLI for right-of-way of the SCTEx and the Luisita interchange.
Cojuangco said HLI is using the money collected from motorists to maintain and repair the road. He said at least 4,000 vehicles pass through the road every day.
When asked, Corpuz said the TRB has jurisdiction over the San Miguel access road. He declined to elaborate, however.
“The matter [is] now being studied and the TRB board will meet next week to come up with an appropriate position,” he said.
BCDA president Arnel Casanova said the San Miguel access road is “for public use.”
The BCDA, Casanova said, intended an interchange on Hacienda Luisita to “connect the Luisita Industrial Park with Clark and Subic economic zones.”
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