SC ruling predictably draws mixed reactions
As expected, the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Hacienda Luisita controversy generated mixed reactions.
For the lawyer of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala), the high tribunal’s decision “only wasted the years of waiting” of the farmer-beneficiaries “who had been dreaming of tilling their own lands.”
“If anything, the Supreme Court ruling gave judicial imprimatur to the compromise agreement that the Cojuangcos had been pushing,” Jobert Pahilga told the Inquirer.
Gener Asuncion, Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) counsel, said that while the high court’s decision upheld the revocation in 2005 of the land distribution scheme by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and later the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, it also affirmed HLI’s offer for farmers to decide whether to receive shares of stocks or portions of lands.
“I would consider this a victory (for HLI) because it recognized the HLI’s position asking the farmers if they want shares of stocks or lands for distribution,” Asuncion said in a separate phone interview.
He expressed optimism that the majority of 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries would eventually opt to remain as stockholders of HLI.
“There’s a historical basis and we’re hoping that it would be upheld by the farmers,” he said, noting that in the two referendums held by HLI in 1989 and last year, an overwhelming majority of farmers decided to receive shares rather than have their own lands.
“We have been waiting for a long time for this decision,” said Lito Bais, acting president of the United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu).
Bais said farmers would likely reiterate their 2003 proposal to implement the land distribution through a collective scheme.
“If the land distribution will not be implemented collectively, the lands may once again be sold to the Cojuangcos in under a year,” he said.
Kilusan para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
“The (1989) SDO was a sham scheme that allowed the Cojuangcos to control the land that should have been distributed to farmers and farm workers of the hacienda. It brought nothing but joblessness and hunger,” said Danny Carranza of Katarungan.
He said the “decision to call for a referendum may yet allow the discredited SDO to be resurrected.”
“There is no real informed choice when the farmers and farm workers have only experienced owning stocks but not owning the land they have long tilled. For the choice to be real and informed, the farmers and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita must come to the poll as landowners made to choose between certificates of stock or certificates of land ownership award,” he said.
Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, called the decision the “biggest betrayal” and smacked of the “cowardice of the justices.” With reports from Marlon Ramos, Christine O. Avendaño and Cynthia D. Balana in Manila and Jo Martinez-Clemente and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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