Just compensation last issue in HLI case - Palace

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 22 2012 01:44 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2012 03:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang said the only remaining issue in the Hacienda Luisita case is the just compensation for the owners.

Malacanang has already accepted the fact that farmer-beneficiaries are entitled to the sugar estate in Tarlac.

In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “the Supreme Court has already made a ruling as to the validity of the [stock distribution option]. The pending incident now is the valuation of the land. Let’s just wait for the [final] decision.”

The high court is set to release on Tuesday its final decision on the fate of the 4,916 hectares (has.) of the Cojuangco-managed Hacienda Luisita.
Sources earlier said the ownership of the land has long been resolved and that magistrates will only now decide how President Aquino's relatives, who own Hacienda Luisita, would be compensated.

In a 56-page resolution promulgated in November 2011 and penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., the high court modified an earlier decision that allowed 6,296 farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) to choose between ownership of agricultural land or shares of stock representing the value of the sugar estate.

In the same decision, ten of the Supreme Court magistrates voted to compensate the managers of Hacienda Luisita based on a 1989 valuation.

They said the compensation be reckoned from November 21, 1989, when an original stock distribution plan was offered to the 6,296 farmer beneficiaries.

Only one magistrate, Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno, wanted the management to receive compensation “which shall be based on their fair market value as of 02 January 2006, to be determined by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).” This may result in billions.

Three magistrates, on the other hand, said DAR should be the entity to determine the compensation for the farmers.

The issue has been dragged into the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The chief magistrate believes that the high court’s order on the distribution of the lands is the reason why Aquino wants him out of the high court.

Farmers and militants are set to go to Baguio to await the decision of the court. Magistrates are holding their summer sessions there.