Farmers urge the High Court to stand firm on its decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita
BAGUIO, Philippines – The Supreme Court has deferred its ruling on the case involving the distribution of Hacienda Luisita, raising concerns among farmers that the distribution of the sugar plantation would be further delayed.
SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said Wednesday, April 18, that the case of Hacienda Luisita was on the agenda of the SC en banc session on April 17, but the High Court opted to take it up again in its next session next Tuesday, April 24.
The 6,000-hectare sugar plantation, owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, has been the subject of a bitter legal dispute.
The SC, in a unanimous decision on Nov. 22, 2011, ordered the distribution of the land to 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries. It was a modification of an earlier decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco, which allowed farmers to choose if they wanted to own the land or avail of the company’s stock distribution scheme.
The stock distribution plan, which was approved on Nov. 21, 1989 by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, has been considered by various sectors as disadvantageous to the farmers.
The plan emanated from the “stock transfer scheme” that the late President Corazon Aquino included in her Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1988, a move that critics said allowed her family, the Cojuangcos, to skirt the agrarian reform law which required the distribution of agricultural lands to farmers.
The Hacienda Luisita Inc filed a motion for reconsideration in December last year and sought for a P10-B compensation for its distribution of the sugar plantation.
“HLI’s motion for clarification and reconsideration is nothing but a rehash of their previous position; it only aims to delay the eventual distribution of Hacienda Luisita to its beneficiaries. We want to get this over with, the more the court delays its decision; it gave room for the president and his relatives to adverse its verdict,” the militant farmer group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura said.
The group added that they will hold protests nationwide and appeal to the High Court to declare its November 2011 ruling final and executory.
“We are reiterating our call to the Supreme Court that they should stand firm on their decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. Aquino is up on his heels to prevent if not adverse their ruling and the court is caught on the president’s plan by giving a second look on his relative’s appeal. We urge CJ Corona to spearhead the effort to make their Hacienda Luisita decision be finalized,” they said.
Corona has repeatedly said that it was the SC decision that prompted the President to order his political lieutenants to impeach him. Corona voted for the outright distribution of Hacienda Luisita, saying the stock distribution plan was unconstitutional from the very start.
Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 2011.
But Aquino – who divested his shares in Hacienda Luisita in 2010 – has denied that Corona’s impeachment was triggered by the Luisita issue, saying the judiciary needed a better leader who could help reform it. – Rappler.com