My newer post, A Case for Noynoy, is now up. I’m moving this entry back to the archives.
I will be writing a separate, newer entry on this, but for now, in the interest of fairness, here’s an entry by journalist and blogger Felicty Tan, wherein she exposes the bias of the GMA News series (mentioned in the original entry below) against Noynoy Aquino:
… the case of Stephanie Dychiu/Howie Severino’s Luisita series on the GMA News website is a glaring offense to the profession. What stands out is that the offended journalistic conventions are so basic. Read the rest.
She herself spoke to the Hacienda Luisita famers and here’s the video:
Her blog entry regarding the video.
MY ORIGINAL POST, dated February 15, 2010:
I was literally heartbroken after reading GMA News’s series of reports on Hacienda Luisita.
- Part 1: Hacienda Luisita’s past haunts Noynoy’s future Part 2: Cory’s land reform legacy to test Noynoy’s political will Part 3: How a worker’s strike became the Luisita massacre Part 4: After Luisita massacre, more killings linked to protest
I’ve been following it over the last two months, but reporter Stephanie Dychiu (with Howie Severino) saved the most damning facts in Part 4.
I never withdrew my support for Noynoy even after having read Part 3, and in fact, even while reading about the murders in Part 4: I figured, the Cojuangcos surely never wanted anyone killed. (Though now, I ask myself, who then killed the activists?)
But this part of the story completely disheartened me (proceed to the bottom for the gist):
The year 2005 was a crucial turning point in the farm workers’ struggle in Luisita, and once again demonstrated the transcendental link between the hacienda and Malacañang that has been manifesting since the time of President Ramon Magsaysay.
Under pressure from public outrage over the November 2004 massacre, the Arroyo administration, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), formed Task Force Stock Distribution on November 25, 2004 to study the causes of the workers’ strike. The Task Force was later renamed Task Force Luisita. In March 2005, teams were sent by the DAR to Luisita’s 10 barangays to investigate the SDO.
Three months later, while the investigation was ongoing, “Hello Garci” hit the country—and possibly turned the tide in Luisita.
In early June 2005, tapes of wiretapped phone conversations between President Gloria Arroyo and Comelec (Commission on Elections) official Virgilio Garcillano surfaced. This led to accusations that Arroyo cheated during the 2004 presidential elections, and a clamor rose up for her to resign.
The late former President Cory Aquino and son Noynoy initially defended Arroyo.
Even after Arroyo delivered her famous “I am sorry” speech on TV on June 27, 2005, which the public took as an admission of guilt, and which prompted Susan Roces, widow of Arroyo’s 2004 election opponent Fernando Poe, Jr., to deliver her own famous “not once, but twice” speech, Mrs. Aquino defended Arroyo, saying: “I am glad the President has broken her silence. Her admission of judgment lapses leading to improper conduct on her part is a truly welcome development. Tonight the President has made a strong beginning and I hope she will continue in the direction of better and more responsive governance. Let us pray for her and for all of us Filipinos.”
Rep. Noynoy Aquino, for his part, said in a June 29, 2005 report of the Philippine Star that President Arroyo should be commended for admitting her mistake. He said her televised apology was “a good start” for her administration.
Two days later, on July 1, 2005, the Philippine Star reported, “Cory went on TV yesterday and… warned against using extra-constitutional means to oust President Arroyo.” The article quoted Mrs. Aquino as saying she had gone to see Susan Roces to congratulate her on “the passion of her speech and the sincerity of her convictions”, but also to stress that she would always stand by the Constitution.
At the fifth Congressional hearing on the Garci issue on June 30, 2005, three days after Arroyo’s televised “I am sorry” speech, Rep. Noynoy Aquino voted against playing the “Hello Garci” tapes.
“Tarlac Rep. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III disappointed his colleagues in the House when he voted on Thursday night against the playing of the audio tape, although an overwhelming majority had voted yes,” reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 2, 2005.
“(Aquino’s actions) are no less than political payback” because President Arroyo was the “most powerful and influential patron” of the Cojuangco-Aquinos in the Hacienda Luisita dispute, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said in the July 2, 2005 Inquirer report. Mariano said Arroyo knew what really happened during the Luisita massacre, and that was why Rep. Noynoy Aquino played “guardian angel” to Arroyo.
(Arroyo, whose candidacy in the 2004 presidential elections was supported by Noynoy and Kris Aquino, and who originally ascended to the presidency in 2001 after Cory Aquino and various groups led the campaign to oust President Joseph Estrada from office in EDSA 2, was suspected of aiding the Cojuangco-Aquinos during the November 2004 strike in Hacienda Luisita because of the involvement of the military in the dispersal and the Assumption of Jurisdiction that was declared by the Department of Labor.)
Unfazed by the criticism, both Noynoy and Cory Aquino continued to stand by Arroyo.
But on July 8, 2005, just a little over a week after Rep. Noynoy Aquino voted not to play the Garci tapes and Mrs. Aquino lauded Arroyo for her “I am sorry” speech before admonishing Susan Roces, the Aquinos dropped their support for Arroyo.
“I ask the President to spare our country and herself . . . and make the supreme sacrifice of resigning,” Mrs. Aquino said in statement issued to the press.
The day before she gave this statement, Mrs. Aquino met with President Arroyo in Malacañang. There were rumors of a shouting match, which Mrs. Aquino denied. “Yes, we met last Thursday, but there was no shouting,” she said in a July 12, 2005 report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “We just kissed each other goodbye.”
From then on, she and son Noynoy actively joined the calls for Arroyo to either resign or be impeached, and to this day the scorching rift between the Aquinos and Arroyos continues to rage.
Luisita farm workers that GMANews.TV spoke to believe the Aquinos’ abrupt withdrawal of support for Arroyo had something to do with the hacienda.
The Aquinos broke ties with Arroyo in July 2005, the same month the DAR’s Task Force Luisita submitted the findings and recommendations of its investigation. This formed the basis for the government’s decision a few months later to revoke Luisita’s Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and order the distribution of the hacienda’s land to the farmers.
The gist: Noynoy, then Congressman, voted against disclosing the full version of Arroyo’s Hello Garci tapes, which would have provided a welcome inroad to the President’s investigation. It appears he and Cory were in full support of Arroyo — until the President, through a government body, ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s land to the farmers.
And so I am withdrawing my support for Noynoy. I’m not sure what excuse he’d give for these past choices, but he can’t run under the advocacy of a clean government when he supported Arroyo even after her improprieties came to light. The fact that he and his staff did not bother explaining his side to GMA News is just as disturbing as Villar’s non-confrontational stance on his own issues.
Regarding my first sentence, yes it hurts to believe so much in someone and discover there’s an ugly truth behind him after all. (And here I was, thinking I was pragmatic.)