By Gi Estrada / Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
It pays to be loyal buddies with the President.
BS Aquino’s kababata (townmates) now appear “untouchable” despite being drawn in scandal and criminal negligence surrounding Yolanda relief and rehabilitation, the “Tanim Bala” scam and fake land distribution in his own backyard, Hacienda Luisita, according to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
Two years after supertyphoon Yolanda ravaged Eastern Visayas, UMA Secretary General Ranmil Echanis scored Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and echoed the statement of Yolanda survivors that “the patronage system of politics rear(s) ugly head even in the most distressing situation.”
Yolanda survivors lament that after two years without adequate assistance to complement their own rebuilding efforts, the Aquino government adds insult to injury with condolences of delayed, divisive, conditional and corruption-riddled assistance. Members of People Surge described Soliman and Aquino as members of the ‘Gang of 5 despicable figures of ineptness’ which also includes Panfilo Lacson, Jericho Petilla and Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas.
Soliman was born in San Miguel, Tarlac Tarlac City near Hacienda Luisita and her father, Leonilo Juliano, reportedly served Dinky’s namesake, Corazon Aquino and the rest of the Cojuangco-Aquino landlords as a loyal “kapatas” or lead man who gathered cane cutters to work for Hacienda Luisita.
People Surge enumerated Dinky’s criminal negligence, ineptness and corruption with the following:
- P580 million worth of rice supplies left to rot at the Subic Free Port
- Dinky’s claim of having provided more than five (5) million food packs for a maximum of 10 rounds is still highly inadequate when spread over more than 100 days after Yolanda. Most survivors in fact received food packs only once.
- The more than 16,000 individuals alleged to have been accommodated by the “cash-for-work” program is an insignificant minority out of more than one (1) million Yolanda survivors. These beneficiaries in fact worked for only 10 days for P250/day instead of the promised P500.
- The 2,052 families who transferred to bunkhouses in fact only represent 0.17% of homeless survivors.”
Meanwhile, Jose Angel Honrado, also a close Aquino buddy from Hacienda Luisita, remains at the helm of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) despite the firestorm of criticism, and national humiliation and ridicule brought about by the “Tanim Bala” scam.
Several groups, including overseas Filipino workers or OFW organization Migrante and some legislators are already calling for Honrado’s resignation as NAIA general manager but BS Aquino and his spokespersons have brushed aside the clamor and downplayed the situation.
“With his brand of inaction on this shocking extortion scam, Aquino has effectively contributed another solid reason to call the NAIA one of the worst airports in the world.”
Honrado was born in Concepcion, Tarlac, a town also within the bounds of the controversial sugar estate. His father was reportedly the former chief security officer of Hacienda Luisita.
The President is well known for clinging to his kabarilan (shooting buddies), kaklase(classmates) and kaibigan (friends). A few months ago, another kabarilan, Virgie Torres, was embroiled in a sugar smuggling scandal, where she allegedly used Aquino’s name to bring in around 60 shipping containers of sugar from Thailand.
Efforts to cover-up the controversy inadvertently led to Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap’s expose of Torres and Aquino’s unholy leaseback partnership in Hacienda Luisita. The “aryendo” aims to reconcentrate land reform areas back to the control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Torres was quoted to have said “I lease the land and we (Torres and Aquino) grow sugarcane together.”
“Where are the charges against Virgie Torres now?”
“BS Aquino has assembled such a corrupt band of characters within his cabinet, choice agencies and even the top brass of the military and police. Let’s not forgot ex-PNP chief Gen. Purisima of the Mamasapano fiasco, and ex-AFP Chief Gen. Catapang, a ground commander of the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004,” said Echanis.
Farmworkers will commemorate the 11th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16. Justice remains elusive to the victims.