It’s final. To the plea of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) that its vast plantation in Tarlac is worth P5 billion, the Philippine Supreme Courte voted 8 to 6 for a final valuation just short of P200 million. This is based on an assessment of P40,000 per hectare made in 1989 when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) approved a stock distribution option (SDO) in place of full application of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which mandates distribution of the property to its 6,000 claimants.
This spells trouble for the Cojuangco-Aquino feudal clan. According to a report published on Newsbreak.ph featured in a Get Real Post article in November 2011, HLI is burdened with a P2 billion “capital deficiency”. This could mean that the value of its marketable assets is short by that amount to cover its current liabilities. Clearly, the Supreme Court (SC) ruling requiring HLI to sell almost 5,000 hectares of the estate to the government for about P200 million may leave the Cojuangco dynasty asset-less and in debt. This could also spell trouble for the Cojuangcos’ extended network of business partners and close associates who may have significant exposure to HLI liabilities. If HLI descends into insolvency oblivion, it coud to drag down along with it every entity it owes money to and could even precipitate a mini financial crisis on its own if the web of financial exposure to the doomed enterprise unravels beyond what is known today.
This brings to light the very plausible underlying agenda of the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. A Noynoy presidency was apparently deemed critical to ensure that the â€œrightâ€ people were in the Supreme Court over the 2010-2016 presidential term, most likely to ensure that the SC in that period dished out rulings favourable to the presidential Kamaganak Inc which, of course, includes the owners of HLI. This likely inlcudes keeping the TRO in effect and buying enough time for HLI to get its sorry financial position back in the black.
It is no wonder then that Noynoy threw a monumental fit when he first faced the prospect of a presidency under a Supreme Court led by Arroyo appointee Renato Corona. To Noynoy, Corona represented an absolute roadblock to the whole point â€“ his mission to his family while President of the Philippines.
Indeed, an â€œexclusiveâ€ report by Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio J Bugaoisan in The Daily Tribune article Noynoy out to reclaim Luisita through CJâ€™s impeach possibly reveals who Noynoyâ€™s real bosses are â€” the â€œeldersâ€ of the Cojuangco feudal clan â€” and the true implications to them of Noynoyâ€™s epic failure to manage MalacaÃ±angâ€™s relationship with the Philippine High Court…
The Tribune source said that the plot to oust Corona was hatched at the Bahay Matanda, the ancestral house of the Cojuangcos after elderly members of the Cojuangco clan reportedy [sic] berated President Aquino for attacking members of the High Court which they believe was the reason the SC justices revoked the stock distribution option and ordered the distribution of the [Hacienda Luisita] sugar estate to its tenants.
â€œFrom the time of (President Ramon) Magsasay, the hacienda land was never lost. When Martial Law came, we still did not lose our land. GMA (Gloria Arroyo) and Cory had a fight during GMAâ€™s presidency, we Cojuangcos still did not lose our land. Now that that you (Noynoy) are president, we lose the hacienda!â€, the Tribune source quoted an elderly Cojuangco as he berated Aquino in the vernacular.
â€œYou are the reason for our loss of the hacienda, because even the Supreme Court you had to fight with!,â€ the elderly Cojuangco was further quoted as telling the President.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona himself, who is currently undergoing an impeachment trial many say was pushed by MalacaÃ±ang, claims that the whole impeachment campaign against him was prompted by the SC decision to subject Hacienda Luisita to the CARP late last year — a claim the President denies. Yet back in December 2011, it was a reportedly “furious” President Aquino who fast-tracked the signing of the impeachment complaint in the Philippines’ House of Representatives. Many of the 188 signatories of the complaint allegedly signed the document without even reading it…
The speed at which the complaint was signed up to by the House of Representatives is unprecedented. Many observed that the process with which this was done was “rushed”.
Earlier, it was reported that a “furious” Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III pushed for a “fast” impeachment against Corona. This was after Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte went on record to say that MalacaÃ±ang was “not privy” to what at the time were plans to launch the impeachment bid.
For now, it remains to be seen what the fallout will be for the Cojuangcos and Aquinos as a result of this ruling. Whatever way it will impact the possible outcome of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona is anyone’s guess. Even more interesting will be what contingency plans the President’s family and friends are likely to already have formulated may come to play in the coming weeks.
In other words:
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.