MANILA — Farm workers belonging to Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala) and The United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu), together with hundreds of supporters from various progressive groups, trooped to the Supreme Court (SC) in Manila on Wednesday to reiterate their demand to revoke the stock distribution option (SDO) and distribute Hacienda Luisita, the sugar estate owned by President Benigno S. Aquino III and his family.
The SC held oral arguments on the petition for certiorari filed by the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management against the 2005 resolution of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and Department of Agrarian Reform revoking the SDO and ordering the distribution of land to the farm workers.
Supporters from peasant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) appeal to the SC justices to decide in favor of the collective interest of 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries inside the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation.
KMP national secretary-general Danilo Ramos and UMA national coordinator Edna Velarde said in a joint statement that Luisita farm workers have “waited for 53 long years to have Luisita under collective ownership, and they will not subscribe to another 43 years of social injustice.”
“Injustice and warlordism still reign in Luisita, therefore we ask the Chief Justice and his peers to make a landmark ruling that will stop the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III from continuing a wholesale heinous crime,” the peasant leaders said.
Lawyer Edre U. Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said that the ball in now in the hands of the SC to settle the decades-long land dispute between the HLI management and farmers workers.
“This land dispute has to be viewed according to the state policy of social justice. In the end, it is the right to own the land and the economic rights of the toiling and hapless farm workers that should be addressed by the Supreme Court,” Olalia said.
Some members of NUPL, a voluntary bar association of human rights lawyers, are representing the farm workers. Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, the NUPL deputy secretary general for campaigns and advocacy, is Ambala’s legal counsel.
Pahilga said that the SDO is unconstitutional. and that “the law states that land, not pieces of paper, must be distributed to the farmers.”
The oral arguments is set to resume on August 24. (Bulatlat.com)