Land or stocks: farmers’ choices

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated Tuesday the Stock Distribution Plan (SDP) of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) over the 6,443-hectare sugarcane plantation in Tarlac but gave the farm worker-beneficiaries (FWBs) the choice between stocks or portions of the land.

With the decision written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., the SC upheld with modification the December 22, 2005 resolution of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) that revoked the SDP in Hacienda Luisita as it denied the petition filed by HLI.

Justice Velasco’s ruling ordered the holding of a plebiscite among the FWBs who had gotten their shares of stocks to determine their real choice between stocks or pieces of land. Justices Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Jose Portugal Perez, and Roberto A. Abad concurred in the ruling.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was directed to conduct a meeting with the original 6,296 FWBs “to explain to them the effects, consequences, and legal or practical implications of their choice.”

The FWBs should manifest in secret balloting their choice with their signatures or thumbmark over their printed names.

Justices Arturo D. Brion, Martin S. Villarama Jr., Jose Catral Mendoza, and Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno voted to place Hacienda Luisita under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) with the hacienda’s landholdings distributed directly to the FWBs.

Read more Manila Bulletin

Con Yap