April 15, 2010


Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino's entire appeal to the Filipino people to elect him President of the Republic, from television ads to live and press statements to written platform, rests on a single claim: that having inherited the legacy of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, he can stamp out corruption and bring righteousness, progress and prosperity to the Filipino people.

Of late, he has carried this grand posturing to the extent of his camp drumming up the "failure of elections" scenario to simulate the '86 fraud-ridden snap elections, present himself as "another Cory" and thereby rally the Filipino people behind him.

Alas, unwittingly this scheme backfires as it becomes clear that there is an ocean of difference between Cory the challenger to Marcos' dictatorial rule and Noynoy the pretender to the Ninoy and Cory legacy.

Cory eventually galvanized the broad anti-Marcos opposition behind her – including the forces of the Left – to oppose the fraudulent claim of victory by Marcos in the 1986 presidential polls and to mount mass protests that culminated in the “people power” uprising that overthrew the dictator.

Noynoy could have worked to build the broad unity of the anti-Arroyo forces to ensure the defeat of the administration candidate and Mrs. Arroyo herself in her home province but chose instead to foist the small Liberal Party on other parties and groups. He had become convinced that the spontaneous outpouring of sympathy for his family after his mother’s death would be enough to fuel him to victory.

As for Noynoy's claim that he can lead the Filipino people in the righteous fight against corruption towards prosperity and progress, this has to be tested in the light of his stand on the Cojuangcos’ Hacienda Luisita and the long-standing agrarian dispute that has hounded them.

The truth is, the Cojuangcos utilized the clout and influence of President Cory to get Congress to enact a fatally-flawed agrarian reform law that, for one, allowed big landowners like them to circumvent land reform by means of the so-called stock distribution option (SDO). The landless were given worthless pieces of paper saying they were co-owners of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI). Their lot changed from bad to worse: they had no say on the decisions made regarding the hacienda; they had no assurance of jobs; they did not even own the land on which their hovels stood.

Thereafter Noynoy utilized Congress as a platform to vociferously defend his relatives managing their essentially feudal landholding. He also exonerated them as well as the Arroyo regime for culpability in the infamous massacre of the hacienda’s striking workers and their supporters six years ago. Instead, Noynoy accused the workers of provoking and orchestrating the deaths and injuries among their ranks.

Noynoy now promises land distribution to the farmers by 2014 when in truth the 6,453-hectare property should have been distributed in 1967, a precondition to the loan granted to Noynoy’s grandfather, Don Jose “Pepe” Cojuangco Sr. , by the then Central Bank.

This is a classic example of bureaucrat capitalism that the national democrats have been denouncing as one of the three basic evils of Philippine society; i.e. the use by bureaucrats in high public office of their political power to protect and promote their vested interests.

Cory looked the other way when land reform was thwarted in HLI by means of the SDO and by management cooptation and control of the farm and mill workers’ unions. She washed her hands of the HLI massacre while her son was beside himself accusing “communists” and “outsiders” of instigating unrest on their otherwise purportedly placid hacienda.

Despite this and without giving up on and reneging on the farm workers’ just struggle to get back the lands appropriated unjustly by the Cojuangcos, the Left would agree to unite with Cory when she finally decided to call for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation after the “Hello, Garci” election fraud blew up in Mrs. Arroyo’s face. She was convinced to do so by the ten resigned Arroyo cabinet members and some bishops who promised to back her call.

Satur himself prevailed on HLI farm workers picketing the Aquino residence to allow Mrs. Aquino to leave her house the day that she was to announce in a press conference that she would lead a march to Congress to press for Mrs. Arroyo’s impeachment. The HLI issue could give way that day to help build the broad united front against the anti-people Arroyo regime.

But the HLI issue cannot be set aside, minimized or papered over today vis a vis candidate Noynoy Aquino. Land reform is a defining issue for the Left precisely because it is the basic demand of the peasantry and it impacts heavily on the entire Filipino people.

Decades of land monopoly by a few constitutes stark social injustice that cries out for resolution. It is fuelling agrarian unrest and armed revolution in the countryside; the series of bloody counter-insurgency programs of all postwar governments including that of President Cory have failed to bring these to an end.

Landlessness is also the major cause of the poverty and backwardness that has bound millions of peasant families to a life of endless, backbreaking toil and relegated the Philippines to little more than a semi-feudal, semi-colonial backwater with no jobs, no livelihood, nothing but a bleak future for the vast majority. Is it a wonder Filipinos are leaving by droves to find better-paying jobs and a chance at a better life anywhere outside their homeland?

Noynoy must answer whether, when and how he plans to deal with the land dispute on his clan’s landholdings because that will set the pattern by which the land problem will be faced by his presidency.

Noynoy at first echoed his mother’s lame excuse: their family is a minor stockholder and has little say in the running of the corporation. That cop-out was unconvincing so next he said something about debts to be paid and not wanting to saddle the farm workers with the problem of an insolvent company. The workers said, thanks but no thanks. Just get the HLI management to withdraw its Supreme Court petition for an injunction on the current government decision to grant the land to the hacienda tenants.

Noynoy Aquino has displayed nothing but disdain for the national democrats and unabashed anti-communism to the point that he would not even agree in the beginning to engage in any kind of talks with the Satur/Liza camp. There was never for a moment any opening given by Noynoy to probe possibilities for an alliance with the Left in the 2010 elections.

Noynoy’s attitude towards the Left has endeared him to the rabid anti-communists and militarists inside government and out. It also serves to assure US imperialism and other foreign monopoly capitalists and their Filipino partners that the Left will not be allowed any space in Noynoy’s presidency, enough to endanger their unmitigated plunder of the country and the oppression of its people. But it bodes ill for ending the legacy of human rights abuse and impunity that has gone hand-in-glove with failed counter-insurgency programs of all previous regimes without exception. #

*Published in Business World
16-17 April 2010


At Saturday, 17 April, 2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Nonoy's initial refusal to engage in any negotiation with Ocampo/Maza camp already mirrored his lack of sincerity to address the HLI issue since Ocampo and Maza are the most vocal and visible proponents of genuine land reform in congress.


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