Press Release
April 10, 2010

Noynoy won't give up Luisita - Villar

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar doubts that Liberal Party presidential bet Benigno Aquino III can make good on his promise to distribute Hacienda Luisita to its rightful owners - the farmers and workers - by June 2014.

"The Cojuangcos have already made a stand on this issue: they will not give up Hacienda Luisita. And I don't believe Noynoy Aquino can deliver on the same promise if he becomes president," Villar said.

At the kick-off of his presidential campaign in Concepcion, Tarlac last February, Aquino promised to distribute Hacienda Luisita to farmer beneficiaries within five years.

Danilo Ramos, a leader of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said there is no need to wait for 2014 if the Aquino family indeed intends to give the land back to the farmers.

"Bakit hihintayin pa ang 2014 kung puwede na ngayon, bukas o sa susunod na linggo?," Ramos said.

Villar said Hacienda Luisita's farmers have long been deprived of their right to be released from the "bondage of poverty."

He said if Aquino is sincere in giving back the hacienda to the farmers, there was no need to wait for the time when he wins the elections.

Villar said that as a part owner and an influential member of the Cojuangco clan, Aquino could set the ball in motion by convincing his relatives to sign off on the papers that would pave the way for a genuine distribution of the land.

"Hindi na niya kailangan pang hintayin na maging pangulo. Ang pagtatakda ng deadline sa pagbalik ng lupaing Luisita ay katunayan lamang na wala siyang intensyong ibalik ang lupain sa mga magsasaka," Villar said.

He also chided Aquino for saying it was impractical to divide the hacienda's 4,916 hectares of agricultural land among 6,296 farmers because each farmer would receive only 0.78 hectares.

"Even with 0.78 hectare of land, a farmer will earn from it. What Senator Aquino is saying is that no land is better than 0.78 hectare of land. This just goes to show that the intention was never there and that his promise of land distribution is merely a campaign ploy," Villar said.

"May kasabihan tayo na ang pinakamahirap gisingin ay ang nagtutulog-tulugan. Ganyan ang mangyayari sa Hacienda Luisita at sa mga magsasaka doon, maghihintay ng wala," the NP standard-bearer added.

"What will then happen to this promise in the event that he losses in the presidential elections? The farmers will again be hopelessly waiting for the land which should have been given to them a long time ago," said Villar.

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