SC creates panel to audit Luisita books

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2014 02:52 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2014 10:52 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has designated a panel of auditors to audit the books of Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) and Centenary Holdings Inc (CHI) arising from the conversion of two lots totaling 500 hectares inside Hacienda Luisita, and the expropriation of part of the property for the Subic-Clark-Tarlax Expressway (SCTEX) project.

In an order dated Jan. 28, the high court designated the following to comprise the audit panel:

1. Ocampo, Mendoza, Leong and Lim (OMLL);

2. Ms. Carissa May Pay-Penson, CPA; and

3. Navarro, Amper & Co. (Deloitte).

The panel shall determine whether the over P1 billion proceeds from the sale of the lots were used for "legitimate corporate purposes."

"[T]he panel shall determine if the PHP1,330,511,500 proceeds of the sale of the three lots (covered by the August 14, 1996 conversion order) were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes and is given a 90-day period to complete the audit. The panel is to submit to the court its report/recommendation upon completion of the audit. Any contentious issue is to be decided by the court based on the submissions of the panel members," the resolution read.

Ocampo, Mendoza, Leong and Lim was the firm requested by the farmers, through the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), to conduct the audit.

The period to be covered by the audit shall be from the respective dates of receipt of the payments for the lot until the finality of the high court's July 5, 2011 decision ordering the distribution of the Cojuangco-owned sugar estate's over 4,000-hectare agricultural lot to farmer-beneficiaries.

"[A]ny ordinary or necessary business expenditure incurred after the finality of the court's decision shall not be deductible from the PHP1.3 B subject of the special audit," the resolution read.

The high court had earlier ordered that "[a]ny unspent or unused balance and any disallowed expenditures, as determined by the audit, shall be distributed to the 6,296 original farmer-beneficiaries."