Luisita farmers further bolstered their assertion that billions of pesos of public funds from BS Aquino’s unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were dangled to corrupt government officials as rewards and bribes “particularly for their support for the Cojuangco-Aquino family’s crusade to maintain control of Hacienda Luisita.”
“We all know that legislators were rewarded with fat DAP sums for their participation in the impeachment of Renato Corona, a move long deemed as BS Aquino’s way of getting back at the former Chief Justice who was instrumental in 2012 Supreme Court ruling for the total land distribution of the vast sugar estate of the Presidential family,” said Florida Sibayan, Chairperson of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita or AMBALA.
“Now we are also made aware that even a barangay captain from Hacienda Luisita, Edgardo Aguas of Barangay Central, notorious among farmworkers as a dirty minion of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, received his share of the DAP loot.”
Aguas reportedly got Php 3.5 million for a multi-purpose building in Barangay Central after President BS Aquino personally disbursed the amount from the DAP in August 2012, only a few months after the SC issued its final and executory decision on Hacienda Luisita.
According to the data released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Aguas was one among the 287 elected officials who received allocations from the DAP. These include 22 senators, 173 House members, 51 governors, two vice governors, 2 board members, 32 mayors, two vice mayors and two other barangay captains.
“Aguas is not an ordinary barangay captain. He was a highly-paid engineer of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) during the implementation of the oppressive stock distribution option (SDO) scheme who rabidly opposed the sugar workers’ demands for land distribution and the revocation of the SDO.”
According to Ranmil Echanis, deputy-secretary general of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), “The Aguases are an influential clan in Tarlac City, some members of which have assumed local government posts. Barangay Captain Aguas is practically ‘part of the Cojuangco-Aquino family’ and is in fact a stockholder of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) along with the Aquino sisters and another Aguas, Wellerita, reportedly one of the highest paid executives of the CAT sugar mill and another Cojuangco firm, Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC).”
In February 2013, Aguas’ name, along with those of other so-called “Cojuangco loyalists,” was exposed by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) to have been dubiously inserted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the final masterlist of farmworkers to benefit from Hacienda Luisita land distribution.
Aguas and other Cojuangco-Aquino supervisors and hired goons were eventually granted land ownership award certificates while 125 Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, mostly leaders and members of AMBALA, were recently disqualifed as land reform beneficiaries by the DAR.
After his presidential victory in 2010, BS Aquino made public his dislike for Chief Justice Renato Corona and announced that he preferred to be sworn in by a “lowly” barangay captain in Tarlac City.
Aquino predictably named his loyal minion, Aguas as the barangay captain of his choice. The move was criticized by farmers’ groups as a “cheap publicity stunt.” Aquino was eventually sworn in by then-Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales who now helms the Office of the Ombudsman.
President BS Aquino and his sisters cast their votes in Barangay Central. Barangay Central houses the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill, Our Lady of Lourdes Church and the so-called “Sitio Alto,” a secluded portion of Hacienda Luisita where the sprawling mansions and villas of the Cojuangco-Aquinos are located.
“Corruption has always been the Cojuangco-Aquino brand of getting the people’s consent. Today, practically all barangay captains in the eleven (11) Hacienda Luisita villages have been mobilized to support the Cojuangco-Aquino’s grand master plan to convert parts of the sugar plantation into a commercial hub – in contempt and complete reversal of the Supreme Court decision for total land distribution,” said Sibayan.
Portions of Barangay Central are also under threat of demolition to make way for the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ development plans.
“As for the lands allocated by DAR to beneficiaries, it is an open secret that Luisita barangay captains receive hefty cuts from brokering illicit lease agreements or ‘aryendo’ designed to reconcentrate agricultural lands back to Cojuangco-Aquino control. Ex-HLI supervisors and PNoy Kabarilan Virginia Torres are among these notorious aryendadors,” Sibayan added.
“Those they cannot bribe, they kill,” said Sibayan. This month, Luisita farmers will commemorate the 9th death anniversary of Barangay Captain Ricardo Ramos of Mapalacsiao, a farmworkers’ village adjacent to Central. He was also the president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) which was still on strike when he was killed on October 25, 2005. Ramos repeatedly refused bribes from the Cojuangco-Aquino family and was gunned down by soldiers near his home.
A tribute for Barangay Captain Ramos, Bishop Ramento and other Luisita martyrs will be held at Hacienda Luisita on October 16. This tribute to Ramos and other Luisita martyrs is part of a series of activities leading to the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre (HLMX) on November 16, 2014.