MANILA, June 14, 2011â€” A Catholic bishop said there was no room for neutrality when agrarian reform is concerned and the plight of farmers of Hacienda Luisita, owned by President Benigno Aquino IIIâ€™s family, is at stake.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called on President Benigno â€œNoynoyâ€ Aquino III to finally make a stand on the Hacienda Luisita issue and whether he is for the farmers or not.
â€œAs president of the people, PNoy can no longer stay neutral on this issue. We call upon him to intervene on the side of the farmers,â€ said Pabillo, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines.
He believes that whatever decision Aquino arrives at will have huge moral and political impact particularly on the current peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Pabillo added that the agrarian reform will remain a central issue in the peace talks and that many Filipinos are hoping on Aquino that he is for the poor.
â€œThe resolution of the Hacienda Luisita case is a test of the administrationâ€™s political will. It will send a strong signal for the successful, or failed, implementation of agrarian reform,â€ he said.
Pabillo also called on the Supreme Court (SC) to settle the issue it had been handling since 2005, saying its continued stalling has already raised suspicions of possible political color.
The case had previously been decided by the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council that the stock distribution option (SDO) of the Hacienda Luisita was a failure and the land should be distributed to the farmer beneficiaries according to the intention of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
At the behest of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, however, the High Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Last week, the SC did not succeed in resolving the case after the justices failed to come up with their decision on how to cast their vote on it and decided to settle it this week.
The SC was supposed to decide by last week the legality of earlier orders of the PARC and DAR to distribute the land to the farmers and the revocation of the SDO offered by the Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farmer-beneficiaries.
But the magistrates deferred making a ruling after failing to come up with a decision on how to cast their votes on the case.
â€œThe High Court, we are certain, knows full well the fact that political â€˜issuesâ€™ impede the implementation of agrarian reform,â€ Pabillo said.
â€œHence, we call on the Supreme Court to facilitate the birth of institutional reforms capable of activating all factors that will seriously implement agrarian reform.â€
â€œThis is best done through the speedy dispensation justice that is devoid of political color and solely based on the merits of the case,â€ he said.
Pabillo was scheduled to lead many Hacienda Luisita farmers in a prayer vigil in front of the Supreme Court in Manila Tuesday night.
â€œLet us appeal to PNoy and SC to give justice to the 50-year old struggle of the farmers. Let us call for the distribution of the biggest hacienda in the country,â€ he said. (CBCPNews)