Just compensation for Cojuangcos won't reach P5B: DAR

Posted at 11/28/2011 5:05 PM | Updated as of 12/09/2011 11:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Monday that just compensation for Hacienda Luisita will not reach P5 billion as feared by some farmers.

"Magkakaroon ng segregation survey dyan.  Aalamin alin sa 4,300 [hectares] ang pwede isailalim sa CARP [Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program].  Pagdating sa 6,000 na benepisyaryo, 1989 pa [yung bilang]. 22 years ako kailangan ivalidate. Maari at posible na yung suma total na benepisyaryo ay kumonti na nga ho.  Yung namatay, baka isumite sa Landbank, kasama yung heirs ng magsasaka," said DAR Undersecretary Tony Parungao on ANC's "Headstart" on Monday.
   
Parungao said each farmer-beneficiary is entitled to get less than a hectare each.
   
Farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita earlier expressed fear that they will have to pay more to own a chunk of the 4,915.75-hectare sugar estate.

By present standards, there were speculations 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 farmer-beneficiaries. The valuation is based on the HLI sale of the 80.51-hectare lot for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) road network, where one hectare was valued at P1 million.

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

"Ito ang presyo na dinikta ng Cojuangco dati para maliit ang kontrol ng mga magsasaka…dapat ito rin ang sundan...," said Atty. Jobert Pahilga, counsel of the Alyansang Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA).

The management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) said it will file a motion for clarification with the Supreme Court to verify the land value of the hacienda and the number of its beneficiaries.

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of 4,300 hectares of Hacienda Luisita land to 6,296 farmworkers.

Differences on number of beneficiaries
   
The court and the HLI have different views on how many farmers are covered by the ruling.

"In our list, we have 10,000 beneficiaries, 4,000 will come knocking at the door of DAR [and say] why aren't we receiving land? Kung magbibigay ng lupa, kailangan mabigyan lahat ng benepisyaryo," said HLI spokesman, Atty. Antonio Ligon.
   
But Parungao said the high court had excluded the 4,000 workers, although they will remain stockholders.
   
"Dahil nagdesisyon ang HLI sa napakaraming motion for reconsideration, pagdating sa usapin ng pamamahagi at stock distrbution plan, sabi ng SC walang bisa yan... Sa direktiba ng SC, yung 4,000, mananatiling stockholder kasama ng Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO),"  he said.
 
CARP not a real estate transaction
 
Parungao noted that CARP is a social justice program, not a real estate transaction.
   
Saying social justice must be balanced between landowners and farmers as guaranteed by Constitution, Ligon insisted the 4,000 workers are also entitled to their share of the land.
   
"Kung ano yung nagawa in good faith ng HLI sa pamamagitan ng pamimigay ng benepisyo, kinikilala gayun din yung pagiging shareholders ng 4,000.  Kaya nga maiiwan [yung 4,000]. Kung wala yung SDO, [e] di ipamigay nyo lahat."
   
Ligon said the owners of Hacienda Luisita are not against land distribution.
   
Cojuangcos-Aquinos entitled to just compensation

President Aquino earlier said the Supreme Court's ruling to distribute Hacienda Luisita will have to be enforced. But Aquino noted that under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), landowners are also entitled to just compensation.
   
The court will determine the land valuation considering the fair market value and the crop yield. But  Ligon added, should landowners feel the amount isn't enough, they can question it in court.
   
"Kung magoffer ang pamahalaan, we can question it in court, determine it and present evidence," said Ligon.
   
"Kahit sinong landowner, maaring mag-retain, ayun sa batas, ng 5 hectares maaring iavail ng HLA, TADECO sa Tarlac," Ligon said adding the Cojuangco family will be left with around 1,000 hectares of the property.

But Ligon said farmers have nothing to fear because the just compensation due landowners will not be deducted from the value of their land.
   
"Just compensation is the owners' loss, not the takers' gain. Hindi naman dapat mangamba kasi hindi sisingilin sa farm workers.  the government is there to support farm workers and the landowner," Ligon said
 
DAR to provide support services to farmworkers
 
Parungao said they have yet to receive a copy of the SC ruling, adding the pending HLI motion will necessitate action from the court.
    
But Parungao said they are prepared to proceed with the long overdue land distribution plan, to assist farmers with support services, and with choosing between an individual or collective titles, once the SC rules on the Hacienda Luisita case with finality.
   
"Karapatan ng HLI kung gusto nila magfile ng MR [motion for reconsideration] or motion for clarification. Sa ganang amin pag naging pinal ang desisyong na yan, handa na kamin iimplement,"  he said.
   
"Sa pagpapatupad ng desisyon, bumabalangkas kami ng espesyal na alituntunin para gawin ito. Aming ginagawa ang pagrerebisa ng buong balangkas na ligal ng kagawaran ng sa ganoon ay aming paigihin ang pagpapatupad ng programa lalo na dito sa Hacienda Luisita.  Pambihira ito.  It is a class in itself. Baka kailanganin out-of-the-box thinking." Parungao said.

Parungao said they are working with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for convergence efforts and support services. 
   
Over the past two months, Parungao said, they have released nearly P5 billion for landowners compensation, adding they may disburse P2 billion for farm implements and for the cost of legal monitoring.