President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the late president Corazon Aquino’s controversial land reform program, asking why she exempted the Hacienda Luisita from the coverage of land distribution during her term from 1986 to 1992.
The President made the statement in a speech before land reform beneficiaries in Davao City on Friday, just a day after her death anniversary, saying the late president had deprived many farmers of their land by allowing her family’s own sugar plantation in Tarlac to be exempt from land reform.
Duterte criticized the 1988 agrarian reform law that Aquino signed, saying the program, which aimed to distribute about 7.8 million hectares of land, did not include the sprawling sugar plantation in Tarlac province once owned by her family.
The Chief Executive said Aquino, the country’s first woman chief executive, was popular 30 years ago when she declared land reform for the entire Philippines but exempted Hacienda Luisita, her own land.
“She is popular. Why? For losing the husband in the hands of the late President Ferdinand Marcos,” Duterte said.
“Aquino declared land reform for the entire Philippines but exempted Hacienda Luisita, her own land,” Duterte said.
“She said, ‘I would like to declare land reform in all of the Philippines. She exempted her land. So you call her what? The one who freed, emancipated… It’s incongruity, they call it,” Duterte said.
The Supreme Court, in a decision promulgated on Nov. 22, 2011, unanimously ruled that the 4,915.75 hectares of Hacienda Luisita should be distributed to 6,296 beneficiaries of the land reform program initiated by Aquino.
However, the President acknowledged that many Filipinos might feel gratitude towards Aquino for bringing back democracy after the 20-year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, more than eight years of which under martial law from |September 21, 1972 to January 17, 1981.
“But what is the fundamental reason why some 30 years from now we may try to balance history? Because Aquino declared land reform for the entire Philippines but exempted [Hacienda] Luisita, her own land,” Duterte said.
Aquino has made the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program the centerpiece of her administration’s legislative agenda.
The program, which was enacted into law, sought to redistribute private and public agricultural lands to help the beneficiaries survive as small independent farmers.
Under her administration, a total of 898,420 landless tenants and farmers became recipients of land titles and support services, but the program only accomplished 22.5 percent of land distribution in her term.
Duterte said Cory Aquino’s legacy was an “incongruity.”
“She exempted her own [land]. So you call her what – the one who freed, emancipated? It’s incongruity, they call it,” he said.
It was during Cory Aquino’s term when Duterte was appointed Davao City vice mayor officer-in-charge that started of his political career.
Aquino died on August 1, 2009 due to cardiorespiratory arrest after complications of colorectal cancer.
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