Corona expects Palace to retaliate after Luisita ruling

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Apr 25 2012 07:06 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2012 05:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona feels that the Aquino administration will retaliate after the high court issued its final ruling to distribute the land in Hacienda Luisita to farmer-beneficiaries.

In a text message to reporters, Corona answered “sigurado [I’m sure]” that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III will get back at him.

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

Malacañang has consistently denied this.

On Tuesday, eight magistrates voted to compensate the landowners at a much lower valuation or the 1989 rates, the year when the Cojuangcos lost ownership of the sugar estate. The Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) wanted the 2006 rates, which could have jacked up just compensation for the Cojuangcos to around P5 billion.

The government, in the meantime, will pay HLI via a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The farmers of Hacienda Luisita were in Baguio on Tuesday to wait for the decision. The magistrates are holding their summer session there.

After Court Administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez announced the decision, the farmers gave out a cry of relief. Some quarters hailed Corona as an “agrarian reform champion.”

In response, however, Corona said: “I am not a champion. We just did what is right and fair. That is social justice as ordained by the Constitution.”

Earlier in the day, Malacañang again declined to comment on the SC decision.

“We haven’t read the decision yet. I spoke to [Agrarian Reform] Secretary Gil de los Reyes and he said he cannot comment on a press release by Mr. Midas Marquez. We have not seen the decision. We have not seen the substance of it. All we have gotten from the Supreme Court is a press release from Mr. Midas Marquez so even Secretary Gil de los Reyes is still waiting for the decision,” Lacierda told reporters.

President Aquino divested his interest in Hacienda Luisita Inc. after he assumed the presidency in June 30, 2010.