Central Azucarera de Tarlac

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The Central Azucarera de Tarlac is a manufacturing plant that produces mainly sugar. It is located in a 50-hectare land located inside the Luisita Agro-Industrial Complex in San Miguel, Tarlac City, Tarlac.

History

Central Azucarera de Tarlac traces its roots from a tobacco plantation, its lands awarded to the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas under royal grant from the Spanish throne during the Spanish occupation. The Tabacalera, as the company was more popularly known, concentrated its operations in Manila when the tobacco monopoly was abolished in 1881. The company's governing body sent Señor Lope Gisbert to find fertile areas for development and he recommended the land surrounding the railroad that extended from Manila to Dagupan. This land was acquired in 1907 after a long and tedious process. It was registered as Hacienda Luisita, after Doña Luisa, the wife of the founder of the Tabacalera.

José Cojuanco, Sr. (father of former president Corazón Aquino) led a group of Filipino investors in the negotiations for the purchase of both Hacienda Luisita and Central Azucarera de Tarlac from the original Spanish owners in 1957, and Cojuanco, Sr. succeeded on 9 April 1958. The company that this purchase bore is known as José Cojuanco & Sons Organisations, and it expanded the Azucarera's products to include molasses, liquid carbon dioxide and yeast, and its operations to selling sugar to both domestic and international markets.


Controversy

Central Azucarera de Tarlac workers staged a strike for the reinstatement of around 327 union members and leaders fired by the management due to their protests against the changing of the computation of their 13th month pay on 16 November 2004. This conflict escalated into a violent dispersal, causing the death of seven people and was therefore named the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the plantation owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III acted in “bad faith” by reducing the year-end bonuses for its workers and that the Central Azucarera de Tarlac must apply its long-established formula in computing the 13th month pay.

The controversy was used against Aquino during his campaign and is still an issue that constantly hounds him even during the days of his presidency.

References