SC mum on reported Hacienda Luisita deal

Posted at 08/05/2010 5:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has refused to comment on reports that Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) has entered into a settlement with its farmers for the distribution of the sugar estate.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the high court has yet to receive a manifestation of such kind.

“I can’t comment on a secondary source, e.g. newspaper account. We will have to wait for a formal pleading filed in court,” he said.

He added the parties “will have to file the appropriate manifestation which the court will consider.”

Marquez is also SC spokesman.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported on Thursday that the HLI management has entered into a settlement agreement with 10,502 recognized farmer-beneficiaries.

They will allegedly be allowed to choose whether to retain their shares under the stock distribution option (SDO) or surrender these for a third of the 6,453-hectare land.

No agreement

Farmer groups have already denied that an agreement has been signed.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas led a rally at Padre Faura on Thursday, lambasting the supposed ploy of the HLI.

KMP spokesman Antonio Flores asked the SC to hold HLI in contempt.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano, in a separate press release, called the alleged agreement “deceptive, unjust and immoral.”

The sugar land is a subject of a case in the high court.

The government previously exempted Hacienda Luisita from distribution in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by placing the estate under a non-land transfer scheme, called stock distribution option, for its farmers.

In 2005 however, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council ruled to place the entire estate under compulsory acquisition for distribution to farmers.

The high court thereafter issued a temporary restraining order on a pleading from the Cojuangco family, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s maternal relatives.

It has yet to issue a final decision on the matter. It has set oral arguments on the matter.