Press Release, July 5 2011 – Akbayan: SC decision on Hacienda Luisita deceptive, a travesty of Justice

PRESS RELEASE

JULY 5, 2011

 

Akbayan: SC decision on Hacienda Luisita deceptive, a travesty of Justice

 

Akbayan Party today condemned in the strongest possible terms the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hacienda Luisita case.

In a statement, the political party conveyed its extreme disappointment over the decision of the high tribunal to disapprove the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) only to call for a referendum among Hacienda Luisita farmers to help them “decide” whether they want the Stock distribution option (SDO) or land distribution. Akbayan said the decision is confusing, deceptive and a travesty of justice.

“While the Supreme Court has nullified the SDO, the accompanying decision to call for a referendum is out-and-out deception since it only allows the estate’s elite incorporators to salvage their plans to keep Hacienda Luisita and to end any chances of the land ever being distributed. It will only serve to split the ranks of the beneficiaries, expose them to landlord machinations and force them to squabble over leftovers,” Akbayan Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros also said conflicts would arise among the beneficiaries. She said the decision effectively drives a wedge between the beneficiaries—among those who want to be free of feudal bondage and those who prefer to keep them, deceived by the false promises of the SDO.

“The law is clear on the matter- land distribution is the only option, no “ifs or buts”. The CARP clearly said that the SDO is not part of it and only distribution is warranted as the genuine avenue of agrarian reform,”Hontiveros asserted.

Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao assailed the SC’s decision particularly its call for a referendum saying it is in excess of its powers and tantamount to usurping the powers of Congress.

“Republic Act 9700 or the CARPER Law specifically removed the alternatives to land distribution, such as SDO. The high tribunal’s decision resuscitates the SDO contrary to the spirit of the CARPER Law,” Bag-ao said.

Bag-ao added that the high court’s decision only serves as a powerful symbol for the landed elite that they can derail agrarian reform.

“The planned referendum serves as a lifeline for those who will benefit the most from an undistributed Hacienda Luisita,” Bag-ao said.

Fellow Akbayan lawmaker Rep. Walden Bello, for his part said the farmers were being cooked in their own fat.

“What is most odious in the erroneous decision is that it will be done under the guise of free and conscious choice of the farmers themselves. A democratic tool will be used to subvert democracy. As the saying goes, ginigisa sa sariling mantika ang mga magsasaka,” Bello said.

“Clearly, what ought to have been a chance to correct the mistakes of the past and serve as a symbol of agrarian reform’s triumph over landlordism has become a window of opportunity to once again hoodwink and bamboozle the HLI farmers and ultimately, derail agrarian reform.  Yet, what makes the decision deviously unique is that the blame will be placed squarely on the farmers,” Bello added.

Akbayan called on President Aquino to exercise both moral and political suasion on the issue and act favorably on the interest of the farmers. The group said the farmers deserve no less than the outright nullification of the SDO and the immediate redistribution of lands.

“If the HLI farmers cannot get justice from the country’s court of last resort or anywhere in this country, then we look forward to President Aquino to justly dispense it. The ball is now in the hands of the President to put closure to an historical injustice to farmers,” Hontiveros concluded. ###

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