Manila, Philippines – As the death of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. was announced in the media, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women cited it with “even the king in his riches does not escape death,” or that he left behind in the physical world, his wealth amassed through exploiting and oppressing peasants and poor sectors. The group said that Cojuangco was an epitome of the fundamental social cancer in society which is “imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism.”

“On his death, he left the injustice he committed against poor and landless peasants, and agricultural workers. In Negros Occidental, he controlled 11 haciendas which he acquired by land grabbing or could simply be declared as ‘sullied landholdings,’ and evaded land distribution through a non-land transfer ‘corporative scheme.’ He was even declared by the ousted Estrada regime as ‘godfather of land reform,’” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson.

She called for the ill-gotten 11 haciendas, covering 4,661 hectares to be immediately distributed to poor and landless peasants. They covered 2 cities and 7 towns of the province and Cojuangco systematically opposed land reform by ejecting legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and installed his minions to consolidate control over the vast tracts of land. Those who asserted their rights to land faced criminalization of agrarian cases, or being framed up with common crimes as form of harassment. Soriano said that DAR should immediately revoke the ‘corporative scheme’ and process direct land distribution for free to legitimate beneficiaries and poor peasants.

The group added that Cojuangco was never held accountable for his collusion with the Marcos dictatorship, plunder of the multi-billion-peso coconut levy fund and carrying out of anti-worker policies, particularly union-busting in San Miguel Corporation (SMC). On his haciendas, government armed forces are in collusion with his private army that constantly harassed poor peasants and agricultural workers.

“Cojuangco leaves no legacy to the country, but of oppression and exploitation. He is the role-model present-day businessmen and women should not emulate. He worshipped amassing wealth at the expense of poor Filipinos. His death is partly justice for all the transgressions he committed. Thus, we call for the distribution of his hacienda lands to poor and landless peasants and agricultural workers, as means to carry out social justice,” she ended. ###

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