MANILA, Philippines - Close to 200 farmers of Hacienda Luisita and their sympathizers staged a rally at the Supreme Court (SC) today to call on the High Court to rule with finality on the distribution of the Cojuangco-owned sugar estate to farmer beneficiaries.
The group, led by the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma), Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), and Gabriela, called on the SC magistrates to junk a motion for reconsideration filed by Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) and stand firm on their Nov. 22 unanimous decision ordering the distribution of the 6,435-hectare sugar estate's agricultural lands to 6,296 beneficiaries amid Pres. Aquino's alleged maneuverings to "preserve his vested interest in Hacienda Luisita."
"Aquino will move heaven and earth to remain steadfast on his campaign to preserve his vested interest in Hacienda Luisita. His deep resentment not only with the court (SC) but also to farm workers [is] written all over his putrid yellow rhetoric of accountability, transparency and respect of the law while at the same time hitting and neglecting the democratic rights of the people including the Hacienda Luisita farm workers to live with dignity," Uma and Ambala said in a joint statement.
For its part, Gabriela urged the High Court to decide the case as soon as possible since Malacanan is allegedly taking advantage of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona to get back at the Court for the landmark ruling.
"Malinaw na sinasakyan ni Aquino ang impeachment trial kay Corona sa motibong maghiganti dahil sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema ukol sa Hacienda Luisita. Kaya't marapat lang na mas igiit sa Korte ang pagpinal ng kanilang desisyon at biguin ang mga banta at maniobra ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino at ng administrasyong Aquino," Gabriela secretary-general Lana Libanan said.
Letter to Justices
In a 2-page letter addressed to Justices of the Supreme Court, the farmers thanked the magistrates for deciding in their favor.
Aside from ordering the distribution of the sugar estates' agricultural lands, the High Court also ordered HLI to pay the farmers a total of P1.33 billion for the sale and conversion of 500 hectares into commercial land.
"Ikinalulugod namin ang inyong pagpanig sa mga manggagawang bukid ng Hacienda Luisita. Ang inyong hatol ay nagsulong sa pagkakamit ng makasaysayang hustisya para sa daan-taong pagkaalipin at paghihirap na dinanas ng uring magbubukid at manggagawa sa asyenda. Nararapat lang na ang lupa ay igawad sa nagpapayaman nito at alisin ang kontrol sa lupa mula sa mga asyenderong matagal nang nakinabang sa bunga ng kanilang pagpapagod," the letter read.
The farmers said just compensation for HLI should be junked.
"Mariin din ang aming nagkakaisang panawagan sa Korte na ipatupad ang libre at walang kondisyong pamamahagi ng lupa sa mga benepisyaryo," the letter stated.
In their joint statement, the farmers accused Mr. Aquino of appointing officials in key positions in order to achieve a reversal of the High Court ruling.
"Democracy under Aquino only functions for the landed few and for his kamag-anak, kaklase at kabarilan. Isn't it obvious the installment of [Francis] Jardeleza as Sol-Gen (Solicitor General) and [SC Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes] Sereno, his appointee grooming [sic] as the next CJ (Chief Justice)?
"His decadent attitude will only usher more protest for his anti-farm worker and anti-people administration. The first step to this is [for] the Court to be courageous enough to pen a resolution to finally resolve the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to its farm worker beneficiaries," the statement read.
Mr. Aquino divested his shares in Hacienda Luisita upon his election as President. Malacanan has consistently denied allegations the President is using his power to secure a reversal of the Luisita ruling.
The farmers and militant groups sympathetic to their cause vowed to continue holding demonstrations until the case is decided with finality.