Friday, December 25, 2009


Perhaps it will be a feather in the President's cap if she does revamp the Cabinet for the last time but more importantly, break the cordon sanitaire which had isolated her from the public and promoted only the interests of persons close to this group.

This powerful clique controls the movement of papers in Malacanang, determines who gets to see President Arroyo, interferes in decisions of government multi-million peso transactions, orders government officials in the name of the President and shapes the political fortunes of many.

Manipulating this cordon sanitaire are business tycoons, society matrons and certain powerful relatives. Also include well-known professional boot-lickers in the guise of advisers and consultants.

The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) would do well to inquire into the background and activities of so-called career service officers in the Palace, many of whom are corrupt and have managed to cling on to every administration through boot-licking and intrigues.

These are the experts in "missing" important documents which show up only when the proper fees are paid them, in pulling the wool over the eyes of new officials unaccustomed to the labyrinthine Malacanang procedures and in giving important advance information to outside contacts being decided by the Cabinet. One would get the surprise of his life if he decides to examine the assets of these junior officers, especially their accounts in foreign banks. One will also be shocked to find out that several of them are in the payroll of big business establishments and even foreign governments. The rampant boozing and floozing inside the premises of the Palace is a common occurence. Time to exorcise the Palace again.


The approval by the Philippine Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) headed by the late former President Corazon Aquino of the stock distribution plan of the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita was generally received with sarcasm. The general comment was, "Well, what did you expect?"

Its approval was given the thumbs up after President Aquino left the PARC meeting on the matter, and former DAR Secretary Miriam Defensor-Santiago and PARC vice-chair (now Senator), proudly hailed it as a good model for the government's agrarian reform program. Santiago also praised President Aquino for inhibiting herself from the deliberations on the controversy in the Hacienda Luisita owned by her family. But what transpired in the discussions before Aquino left that meeting remains a mystery to this day.

Columnist Ninez Cacho-Olivares called the approval of the Luisita plan disgraceful. She also wondered how the much-vaunted courage and independence of Lady Miriam did not surface during the Luisita deliberations.

Olivares' punch-line was, "EDSA did nothing for the Filipino people. Apparently, it did a lot for the Cojuangcos."

(Image from

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The Tarlac Provincial Agrarian Reform Office writes to clarify certain points in my mounting attacks against the Hacienda Luisita, and why it was never subjected to land reform.

The letter says that in 1989, the hacienda was subjected to land reform through a Stock Distribution Option pursuant to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).

Before its coverage under the system, management of the hacienda required all its seasonal workers to choose from physical distribution of the property or stock distribution option. This, I was told was done through a referendum conducted and supervised by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and witnessed by radio and print media representatives.

The 7,000 workers chose stock distribution and signed an agreement with management on this choice. The agreement was forwarded and approved by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) headed by none other than President Aquino as chairperson.

Furthermore, I was told that the tenants turned down physical distribution of the hacienda which would mean less than one (1) hectare each for them which is not enough to support a family and they would be deprived of benefits given them by management like free residential lots, educational assistance for their children and mobility assistance.

Well, critics had charged that Luisita management had supposedly coerced the tenants into accepting the stock option and reject land distribution.

In bringing up anew the Hacienda Luisita issue against Noynoy Aquino, he should not forget that among President Aquino's campaign promises when she ran in 1986 was to give the hacienda to tenants in line with an agreement her family signed with the government when they borrowed funds to buy the hacienda.

Other critics say that the biggest joke during the Aquino regime was its land reform program which applied only to lands of her political enemies which were forcibly taken over and given to tenants.

None of the former president and her choice relatives' estates were touched.