Saturday, August 20, 2011

SC opinion on Hacienda Luisita assailed

MANILA, August 20, 2011—The Central Luzon farmers’ group, Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) has criticized the recent clarification made by the Supreme Court on its July 5 decision regarding the dispute in Hacienda Luisita.
The Supreme Court has said that it would not require a majority vote, in a referendum, in order to decide if stock distribution option or the free distribution of land would be good in resolving the five-decade struggle for land by the farmers and farm-workers in the Cojuangco estate.
Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson said in a statement, the recent opinion made by the high tribunal would only sow confusion, if not disunity, among the farmer-beneficiaries of the disputed land owned by the family of President Benigno C. Aquino III.
“The Hacienda Luisita issue is transforming the Supreme Court, supposed to be the highest deciding body of legal issues in the country, into a hesitant body of legal luminaries upholding the interest of the landlord class. We are now hearing a high court that is pushing the farm workers to fight their co-workers and tillers, instead of issuing a decision that would finally resolve the matter,” he said.
Canlas also said that the SC had made the spirit of landlord class in the country, “high and strong”, by its decision and even evaded the “rationality of implementing free land distribution” as the opinion will only precede a more feudal relationship among land tillers and the owners of lands in the countryside.
AMGL also observed that, while the High Court did not favor the stock distribution plan by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc., it did not junk the stock distribution option itself.
“The high court junked the stock distribution plan (SDP) not the SDO, thus, farm-workers who would choose ‘stocks’ would be compelled to work for it as SDO only granted the farm-workers, the ‘right to purchase’ the stocks of HLI,” Canlas said.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ alliance also criticized the continued implementation of what they call “failure”, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension with Reforms (CARPER), which the Aquino ally, Akbayan Partylist and the Roman Catholic Church had pushed, years ago.
“The choice of land distribution of the SC decision would legally be through CARPER for this would compel the farm-workers to acquire an “attestation” from the Cojuangcos that they are actual “tenants.” CARPER, too, has provision that landowners have the right to set the price of land the farmer-beneficiaries would pay through amortization,” Canlas explained.
“The SC decision is firmly [giving] a win-win [solution] for the Cojuangco-Aquinos, as neither stocks nor CARPER would actually give the lands to the farm-workers. Thus, Hacienda Luisita farm-workers have only their united strength to rely on to actually till the lands such as what they are carrying on Brgy. Balete,” he furthered.
Nevertheless, Canlas said that the SC has only one option: to junk the SDO in Hacienda Luisita and immediately distribute the lands to the farm-workers.
“Unless this is realized, they should prepare for the intensifying rage of farmers and sectors who are struggling for genuine and fundamental reforms in the country,” Canlas said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)

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