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Legislators score 'judicial massacre' of Luisita farmers
In The Press Posted on July 5th, 2011.
Source:SunStar Online News
PROGRESSIVE party-list lawmakers dubbed the Supreme Court's decision on Hacienda Luisita, a vast landholding owned by the Cojuangcos - the family of President Benigno Aquino III, as "a judicial massacre". The decision calls for a referendum to ask farmers to choose between land or shares of stock once the 6,443-hectare sugar estate in Tarlac is up for distribution to land reform beneficiaries.
Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, for one, pointed out that the High Court was being asked to junk the stock distribution option and not set another referendum. He said by issuing such decision, the tribunal did not settle the main issue in the Hacienda Luisita case.
"With President Aquino now in power, another referendum will almost definitely mean a win for the Cojuangcos. This is a throwback to the Cory days when Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) first evaded land reform through a sham referendum," Casiño said. He added that what the Supreme Court (SC) should have done was to resolve the original 2005 petition of the Hacienda Luisita farmers to junk the stock distribution plan (SDP).
In a press conference Tuesday, Court Administrator and SC spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said six justices voted for the referendum while four said it is compulsory under land reform to distribute the lands since the SDP has been revoked. Under the stock distribution option agreement, the farmer-beneficiaries were allowed to choose between owning shares in a company that owned the land -- as indicated in the 1989 memorandum of agreement -- and distribution and ownership of actual agricultural lands. A total of 4,915.75 hectares should have been distributed to 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries.
Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan called on the farmers to boycott the referendum to dramatize their protest against the High Tribunal's ruling.
"This referendum is no different from the referendums in 1989 and 2010 [that] favored the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos. The Supreme Court taught the farmers a valuable lesson - that the institution, which they expect to be the final interpreter of the law, betrayed them and buried the last nail on the coffin containing their dream for genuine land reform," she remarked.
Fellow Gabriela lawmaker Emmi De Jesus thinks the High Court's decision will push forward a more united struggle of the Luisita farm workers and peasants who have long asserted their right to own the land they till.
Kabataan Representative Raymond 'Mong' Palatino, who called the Luisita case a "judicial massacre", added that the decision seems to be "the Supreme Court's seemingly lavish gift to President Aquino on his first year in office."
"The decision once again tragically highlights our justice system as subservient to the rich and powerful. The landlords are rejoicing for they have once again proven their firm's hold of our justice system," he added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)