Hacienda Luisita workers remain grateful to CoronaBy Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Twenty senators may have convicted impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, but members of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) remain grateful to him for his role in the April 24 Supreme Court ruling that granted them Hacienda Luisita lands.
The decision, which was issued in Baguio during the court’s summer session, was announced in the presence of farm workers who trooped there to witness the end to the 45-year agrarian dispute over the 6,443-hectare estate owned by the family of President Aquino in Tarlac.
“Malaking pasasalamat namin sa kaniya dahil nadesisyunan ang Luisita noong siya ang chief justice (We owe him a lot of gratitude because it was during his stint as chief justice that the decision on Hacienda Luisita was handed down),” Ambala president Felix Nacpil Jr. said on Wednesday.
“We did not want him out of the Supreme Court but the decision of the Senate cannot be recalled anymore,” he said.
Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. wrote the tribunal’s April 24 ruling on the Hacienda Luisita, which upheld the court’s July 5, 2011, decision and Nov. 22, 2011, resolution that he also penned.
The three rulings upheld the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to revoke the estate’s stocks distribution program (SDO) and to distribute 4,915 hectares there.
But the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in a statement, warned against what it described as President Aquino’s “dictatorial tendencies.”
The KMP said that an “Aquino-controlled judiciary and the administration’s inability to address the people’s economic sufferings could pave the way for a dictatorship.”
The KMP also said the next chief justice should stand firm against efforts to reverse the SC decision in distributing the Hacienda Luisita lands.
Ambala leaders and members did not watch the televised conclusion of the 44-day impeachment trial of Corona on Tuesday because they were engaged in negotiations to conclude the group’s dispute with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. over a 500-ha land at the Tarlac City side of the sugar estate, Nacpil said.
The 500-ha lot is part of the 4,915 ha that the SC ordered distributed to 6,296 farm workers, who originally agreed to acquire shares of stocks rather than obtain lands in 1989.
In 2011, the court directed the Hacienda Luisita Inc. to give the farm workers P1.3 billion as share in the sale of the 500-ha land to RCBC, as well as 81 ha of Luisita lands to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).
Nacpil said RCBC agreed to retract the five cases it filed against Ambala leaders and members.
He said Ambala has agreed to demolish the hut where the members have been holding protest actions since 2011. The group has relocated the hut to a lot across the contested property as they await final settlement.