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Aquino could use Luisita to make history


SAN FRANCISCO—The Supreme Court ruling on Hacienda Luisita was such an important event it merited a major speech by President Aquino.

In fact, it was a golden opportunity for P-Noy – a chance for him to take charge of such a historically important issue and tell a compelling story.

The decision was widely portrayed as a blow to P-Noy’s family – and to him. But Aquino could have turned it around.

Unfortunately, his first reactions to the decision fell flat, his message muddled, even defensive.

As reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, P-Noy finally discussed the decision with reporters at the birthday celebration of his ally Mindoro Oriental Governor Alfonso Umali.

“The executive is prepared to enforce the law and to carry out the instructions of this decision,” he said. “But before we say that we will implement such-and-such by such-and-such date, we have to know what we are being tasked to do and that is not yet clear. The last time I asked, we don’t have hard copies of the decision.”

On TV newscasts, farmers and their supporters were shown dancing and cheering, and some were even in tears, after the ruling was announced. And here’s the president offering a drab statement and giving the impression that the issue is so unimportant his staff hasn’t even bothered to secure a copy of the ruling.

Does he consider the decision a victory for the farmers? This is where he tips his hand. As ABS-CBN reports, for Aquino, portraying the ruling a victory implies there was a “conflict.”

By that, he was referring to his family’s proposal, which they argued had the support of some of the farmers, for a stock distribution plan. That plan, which was heavily criticized, was eventually struck down by the court.

But then, P-Noy also adds, “But that’s water under the bridge.”

So why bring it up?

“As far as my family is concerned, remember, the agrarian reform law was passed under my mom’s term. That was her flagship project. So as her son and someone who believes in her ideology, who would not want to empower farmers?”

“Gusto ng family namin siguraduhin na nasa maayos sila, hindi ‘yung sumama ang sitwasyon nila,” the president was quoted as saying. “’Yun lang naman ang desire from the start e.”

Given the long history of bitter conflict and even bloodshed at Hacienda Luisita, it was an unfortunately weak, even incoherent, reaction.

But Aquino can still formulate a stronger one. He can still embrace what many see as a unique chapter in our history when ordinary Filipinos scored a victory over the rich and powerful – and use it to strengthen his own political position.

Many Filipinos believe his reform agenda. By showing that he is willing to take on even his family’s interests, even more Filipinos would be more inclined to support his efforts to clean up government and build a more equitable society.

The gloating responses of his critics, including Chief Justice Renato Corona, were predictable. And P-Noy’s own tepid reaction didn’t help.

But there’s still time to take charge of this issue. As many have noted, the bigger problem will be how to effectively hand over the estate to the farmers. P-Noy can still lead in that effort.

Land reform has long been a life and death matter in our country.

Many people have died in the fight over Hacienda Luisita and many other haciendas in the country. They’ve starved and struggled with repression. They’ve protested and cried for justice. They’ve taken up arms and joined guerrilla movements.

Noynoy Aquino is now in a unique, if difficult, position.

He is now poised to become the first Philippine president whose family ended up losing economic power – instead of gaining more – during his term.

Many see that as a stunning defeat for Aquino. But handled properly, Luisita could actually pave the way for one of his greatest victories.

For Noynoy Aquino’s presidency could still turn out to be one compelling story… about how the scion of a hacendero class actually helped dismantle an oppressive system.

On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjamin.pimentel

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Tags: agrarian reform , Benigno Aquino , Cojuangco , Cory Aquino , Hacienda Luisita , Philippines , Poverty , Supreme Court

  • alazzka

    The farmers must not dance like overjoyed chimpanzees with this victory.  From hereon, they must constantly be vigilant by holding constant rallies and press conferences to pressure this NOYNOYING Regime to immediately formulate a road map and  timetable in the implementation of this program, otherwise, they may not savor the fruits of their victory by the vagaries of natural attrition.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JVNTCIME57OARVX76J75DT7XHU benjie

    Eh gusto nga ng 10 BILYON ni Noynoy para sa pamilya niya! GROSS! Napaka sakim na pangulo!

    • mrcrabdribble

      Ok ka lang?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    Unfortunately, his first reactions to the decision fell flat, his message muddled, even defensive.

    Another feather in the list of Pwehnoy’s stellar accomplishments for the Filipino people.
    I can’t believe how lucky we Filipinos are.

  • laguar

    Poor Pnoy – he was a reluctant candidate. Now, they’re pushing him to be a reluctant hero.

  • http://karlomongaya.wordpress.com/ karlo mongaya

    Which is of course pure wishful thinking… :P

  • thadeothadeo

    He hated Gloria and Corona for having been dispossessed of the Hacienda Luisita.  He is not that smart to use Luisita distribution for his advantage.  He will have his revenge, no matter what. Action speaks louder than voice.

  • tra6Gpeche

    Losing economic power during his Presidency could be the best thing for him personally in the long run. That shows this man, Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr. is not a materialistic and greedy human being. He already has enough material things for the rest of his life. All corrupt Filipinos, elected and appointed, have too much and they still want more and more and more. They, the corrupt Filipinos, have this insatiable and sickening greed while most Filipinos have nothing to eat. I salute you, Mr Aquino, for being the opposite!

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