Hacienda Luisita: Farmers weren't forced to sign deal

Posted at 08/08/10 10:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The management of the Tarlac-based Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) said it did not force farmers to sign the compromise settlement deal that gave them the option to either get farm lots in the 6,453-hectare plantation, or retain their stocks in the corporation.

Hacienda spokesperson Tony Ligon said that it was the 6,000 farmers who decided on their own to exercise which option they would take.

"Alam din ng mga farmers na ito'y parang isang paghain ng ating hukuman, na ito po yung gusto namin, pakinggan niyo kami, o kung sabihin ng hukuman, nakikinig kami at tama kayo, yun ang matutupad," said Ligon.

The deal signed last Friday in Tarlac, also raised questions about the farmers' representation.

The Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA) said it does not recognize the group's vice-chair Noel Mallari, because he was already ousted a long time ago for entering into "secret negotiations" with the Cojuangco family, thus, compromising the group's position.

Mallari was one of the signatories in the deal, along with Eldifonso Pungol, vice-president of the United Luisita Workers Union, lawyer Eufrocinio Dela Merced Jr. for HLI, and Julio Suniga and Windsor Andaya for the HLI supervisory group

Mallari however,claimed he is still the rightful leader of AMBALA.

"Kung peke ako na lider na sinasabi nila, e di sana hindi ako ang padadalhan ng sulat ng Supreme Court."

The compromise agreement will still be subject to approval by the Supreme Court which is expected to decide also on other cases filed by farmer groups against the management of Hacienda Luisita.based on a report of Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News