Lutong Macau? | Photo courtesy of Akbayan

Despite Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s lip service to the “rule of law” and “constitutional process,” it is obvious from her actions that she would do anything to stay in power. It reflected in her allies’ efforts to kill the impeachment complaints against her.

If you haven’t heard about the alleged deals that prevented Arroyo from being impeached, here are some:

Libingan and other deals

Libingan ng mga Bayani burial for Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos’ father; four post-dated checks worth P20 million for Zambales Rep. Antonio M. Diaz’s scholarship program; Office of Muslim Affairs posts for the brothers of ALIF Rep. Acmad Tomawis and Lanao del Sur Rep. Faysah Dumarpa;

Monetary Board posts for the sister-in-law of Compostela Valley Rep. Prospero Amatong and wife of Camarines Sur. Rep. Luis Villafuerte; National Anti- Poverty Commission appointment for the cousin of Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong; and chairmanship of Cooperative Development Authority for the vice-chair of party-list group COOP-NATCCO.

But that’s not all.

It seems that there is also a sweetheart deal between President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco over thousands of hectares of lands including the 507.87 hectares land in Calatagan, Batangas owned by farmer-beneficiaries, according to the party-list group Akbayan.

Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel questioned the timing of the decision issued by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) and the third division of the Supreme Court (SC) favoring Asturias Chemical Industries over the 312 farmers that lawfully own the land.

“It is surprising to note that the PARAD and Supreme Court decisions coincided with the yes votes of most NPC members. As we all know NPC is headed by Danding and the PARAD and SC decisions were favorable to Danding and his right hand, Ramon Ang.” said Rep. Hontiveros- Baraquel.

Tenurial insecurities

The 507.87 hectares contested land were distributed to 312 farmer beneficiaries under Presidential Decree No. 27 and Operation Land Transfer . Most of the 312 farmers had fully paid their amortization and were issued Emancipation Patents.

In 1994, the heirs of Ceferino Ascue, former landowner, used the original certificate of title and sold the whole 800 hectares property – including the 507.87 hectares that were already awarded to the farmers – to Asturias Chemical Industries.

The company, whose owners include San Miguel President Ramon Ang, a known henchman of Danding Cojuanco and Inigo Zobel, planned to put a cement factory in the area after discovering that the hills in two Barangays are rich in limestone deposits..

In September 1998, PARAD Barbara Tan declared the sale between Asturias and Ascue as void and ordered the cancellation of the Asturias titles. However, in June 2005, during the peak of the impeachment campaign against President Arroyo, PARAD Lilia Dela Rea dubiously ruled in favor of Asturias and reversed the decision of PARAD Tan and declared the sale valid.

Lutong Macau?

A month after the PARAD issued a questionable decision, the Supreme Court in a separate case also issued a favorable decision to Asturias. Farmers felt the decision is very unfair. More so when the Supreme Court declared the subject landholdings as “mineralized”, mainly on the basis of alleged DAR findings on the mineralized nature of the land and also because Asturias possessed Mineral Production Sharing Agreements.

Meanwhile, the farmers do not lose their hope and willing to pursue their case. They will be filing a motion for reconsideration at the Supreme Court and will be amenable to other legal and extra- legal options.

“Sana naman hindi ito ‘lutong macau’ at sana hindi kasama ang Korte Suprema sa kasunduan ni Danding at GMA. Umaasa kami na magkaroon ng pantay na pagdinig,” Nestor Eugenio of Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan said.

Sources: Akbayan, Inside PCIJ, iGMA, INQ7

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