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Arroyo to cooperate in Truth Commission probe, but...

Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will cooperate in the investigation of the soon-to-be-formed Truth Commission, but her presence should there be a hearing is not certain. “We will make the proper assessment when that time comes," Arroyo’s spokesperson and chief of staff Maria Elena Bautista-Horn said at the weekly news forum Usaping Balita in Quezon City Thursday. Asked if Arroyo will participate in the Truth Commission, Horn said: “Definitely." The Truth Commission, which will be headed by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., will investigate unresolved controversies during the nine-year Arroyo administration. Horn said Arroyo will probably use the investigation to air her side. “Alam natin na medyo hindi nae-air masyado yung side niya so yung formal na bodies na ganyan mas maganda dahil alam namin na mapapakinggan talaga ang panig ng dating Pangulong Arroyo," Horn said. (Formal bodies like that will be a good venue for former President Arroyo to air her side in the controversies.) But Horn said they would have to study first the yet to be signed executive order that would create the commission to see the conditions that will being set there. “Kailangan may ebidensyang maipapakita. Hindi na pwedeng salita-salita lang (concrete evidence must be presented and not hearsay)," she said. In the same news forum, Arroyo’s brother-in-law, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr., who also expressed readiness to cooperate with the Truth Commission, requested the Hacienda Luisita case be included in the probe. “[I hope] it does not limit itself only to the Arroyo family. Why don’t we investigate also the other issues. It’s not only the Arroyos who have issues in the Philippines. We have other issues like the Luisita case," he said. Hacienda Luisita is a 6,435-hectare sugarcane plantation in Tarlac province owned by the Cojuangco family, which includes President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy" Aquino III. In June 2006, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) from executing a resolution subjecting the land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) — a law signed by Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1987. The SC ruling allowed the implementation the stock distribution option (SDO) as an alternative solution to the dispute between the Cojuangco clan and their farm workers. The SDO gives the farmer-tenants of Hacienda Luisita the option to own shares of stocks from the proceeds of the sugarcane plantation. Under this scheme, each of the farmers-tenants would get certificates of stocks instead of parcels lands. The failure of the Luisita management to release stocks dividends to the farmers-tenants prompted the farmer-tenants to seek the cancellation of the SDO scheme. To date, the SC has yet to revoke the TRO and the case has remained pending before the tribunal. During his campaign, Aquino promised to distribute the land to farmer-tenants by 2014. — LBG/KBK, GMANews.TV