Just compensation for HLI may reach P5 billion

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2011 06:57 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2011 06:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita fear that they will have to pay more to own a chunk of the 4,915.75-hectare sugar estate.

The government could pay as much as P5 billion in just compensation for the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) before it will be distributed to 6,296 farmers.

The valuation is based on the HLI sale of the 80.51-hectare lot for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) road network. One hectare was valued at P1 million.

The farmers, however, said the valuation should only be P50,000 per hectare provided under the 1989 stock distribution plan.

Alyansang Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) lawyer Jobert Pahilga stressed: “Ito ang presyo na dinikta ng Cojuangco dati para maliit ang kontrol ng mga magsasaka…dapat ito rin ang sundan..."

The parties are expected to file a motion for clarification on the matter before the Supreme Court this week.

In its decision on Tuesday, the high court said: "In line with our finding that control over agricultural lands must always be in the hands of the farmers, we consider our ruling that the qualified FWBs [farmworker beneficiaries] should be given an option to remain as stockholders of (Hacienda Luisita Inc.), inasmuch as these qualified FWBs will never gain control given the present proportion of (the) shareholdings.”

It also said in the decision that the valuation compensation will be reckoned from November 21, 1989, the date of the issuance of the original resolution that was questioned by HLI.

The just compensation for the landowners will be assessed by DAR and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III said: Wag natin ubusin ang capital, ibig sabihin merong just compensation para naman yung dating may nagmamay-ari ng lupa ay hindi mo inagawan lang ng lupa, binayaran mo ng tama.”

Aquino divested less than 1% of his shares in HLI when he assumed office. - by Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News