Manila, Philippines – Congressmen are divided on the Supreme Court (SC) decision that ordered Hacienda Luisita Inc. to distribute nearly 5,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita land in Concepcion, Tarlac to some 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries.
However, majority of congressmen who commented on the issue supported the High Court decision that rejected the contention of the family of President Benigno S. Aquino III to allow a stock distribution option for farmers who are willing to take the offer.
Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco appeared to be the lone rejectionist of the SC ruling as he warned that the decision may not “bode well to the country’s sugar industry.”
He pointed out that sugar is a capital-intensive crop requiring heavy equipment, huge amounts of fertilizer, and effective irrigation.
Thus, farmer beneficiaries may soon find themselves forming agriculture cooperatives that might be endangered by disputes by stakeholders.
Reps. Cinchona Cruz (CIBAC) and Kaka Bag-ao (Akbayan) said Aquino should be in the forefront of implementing the SC decision to show his sincerity in supporting the farmers’ cause for a successful agrarian reform program in the country.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC) urged government to provide proper assistance that would help farmers maximize the use of their awarded land.
“I think the farmer-beneficiaries have a strong organization already and what the government can do is to channel its capability-building efforgts and programs through this group,” he said.
The Kabataan party-list led by Rep. Raymond Palatino welcomed the historic victory as he called for vigilance until the decision has been fully implemented.
“The Supreme Court order is definitely a historic victory especially for the farmer-beneficiaries. However, given the political dominance of the Aquino-Cojuanco family in the country, it is crucial that we remain vigilant until the lawful distribution of the bloodied Hacienda Luisita estate has been strictly implemented and completed,” Palatino said.
ACT party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, another militant lawmaker, also lauded the SC as he noted that politics was set aside in the ruling.
“The decision to redistributre is firmly anchored in social justice and transcends the political conflicts of the day,” he said.
He added, “It must be implemented immediately, with no less than Aquino taking the lead.” (Ben R. Rosario)