MANILA, Nov. 24, 2011— The Catholic Church’s social action arm lauded the Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution to farmers of Hacienda Luisita, a vast agricultural land owned by President Benigno Aquino’s family.
The National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said the farmers deserve to own land that they have been tilling for decades.
“It’s a long awaited decision and a step forward for the Supreme Court to regain its credibility in proving that it can truly stand for the truth and justice,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, Nassa executive secretary.
“We hope and pray that the Supreme Court will be consistent in rendering judgment not for any political exigencies but to safeguard the interest of justice,” he said.
The High Court, in a resolution released yesterday, ordered the immediate distribution to over 6,000 farmworker-beneficiaries of about 5,000 hectares sugar estate.
Except for Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who did not take part in the voting, 14 of the 15 magistrates agreed to grant the motion for reconsideration of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council and the farmers’ group Ambala.
The High Court also changed its ruling in July that allowed the farmers to choose between land ownership or shares of stock representing the value of the land.
It stressed that the stock distribution option exercised by Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) was contrary to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“The SC decision has long been overdue. This is a victory not only for workers at the Hacienda Luisita but for all the farmers,” Gariguez said.
“With this development at Hacienda Luisita, we have a better hope for a genuine agrarian reform in the country,” he added. [CBCPNews]