MANILA, Philippines - Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) wants Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from the Supreme Court (SC) deliberation on the distribution of the company's sugar estate in Tarlac province.
Antonio Ligon, HLI spokesperson, said HLI plans to file a motion seeking Corona's inhibition from the case since his opinion has become tainted.
Corona was earlier quoted as saying that his impeachment trial was a result of the SC's unfavorable decision against HLI, which is owned by President Aquino's family and his relatives, the Cojuangcos.
"Kapag hindi siya mag-inhibit, we will be forced to file a motion. Kahit sinong abugado na tanungin mo, kapag ganyan na ang salita ng korte, may bias na," Ligon noted.
HLI filed a motion for reconsideration of the SC's November 22 decision, junking a stock-option deal for Luisita and ordering the company to distribute close to 5,000 hectares of the land to some 6,296 farmers in accordance with the 2005 order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council.
The lawyers of the farmer-beneficiaries said they will not block HLI's planned motion to seek Coronoa's inhibition, but they fear the possible effects of the impeachment on the rest of the justices.
"Ang problema kasi baka maging Aquino court ito at masunod ang gusto nila," said Jobert Pahilga, legal counsel of farmers group Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA).
Malacañang, however, stressed that the impeachment trial of Corona is not about the sugar estate but Corona's alleged partiality to protect former President Gloria Arroyo.
"We only refer to the fact that he was someone who was faithful and subservient to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the time he first joined the staff of GMA and when he moved to the judiciary," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez refused to comment on Corona's possible inhibition.
But earlier he said the chief justice will continue to be fair in handling the HLI case.
Two months after getting a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court, farmers, meanwhile, hope that Corona's impeachment will not get in the way of finally resolving the land dispute. - Report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News