Solon to Sereno: Uphold 14-0 SC decision to distribute Hacienda Luisita

ANAKPAWIS Rep. Rafael Mariano challenged newly-appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal-Sereno to uphold the 14-0 decision of the High Court to distribute Hacienda Luisita to legitimate farmer beneficiaries.

“We challenge the new Chief Justice to uphold the Supreme Court decision to distribute Hacienda Luisita. Anakpawis Partylist and Luisita farmer-beneficiaries will closely guard the new Chief Justice and her actions on the Hacienda Luisita case,” Mariano said.

The solon expressed concern over Sereno’s obvious ‘political bias’ to the interest of the Cojuangco-Aquinos as shown in her opinion to give higher ‘just compensation’ to the Hacienda Luisita Inc. and the Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco).

“Sereno is politically indebted to President Benigno Aquino III. She was Aquino’s first appointee to the Supreme Court. Now at 52, Sereno will enjoy an 18-year term as SC Chief Justice from 2012 to 2030. Aquino will have authority over the Philippine judiciary, way beyond his presidency. Sereno’s appointment is definitely a family decision of the Cojuango-Aquinos,” Mariano said.

Farmers from Hacienda Luisita have earlier criticized Sereno’s position on the Hacienda Luisita case. In her opinion, Sereno has set the land valuation of the Hacienda at 2006 levels at the time of the Notice of Coverage, effectively favoring the Cojuangco-Aquinos of P5-billion land compensation.

A portion of Sereno’s concurring and dissenting opinion read: “Although I agree with the majority with respect to the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option Agreement, the immediate compulsory coverage of the agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and their immediate distribution to the qualified farmworker-beneficiaries, I maintain my dissent regarding the following: (a) the amount of just compensation to be awarded to petitioner Hacienda Luisita, Inc., and Tarlac Development Corporation should be reckoned from the fair market value under the law, rules and jurisprudence, specifically as of the date of the issuance of the Notice of Coverage on 02 January 2006…”

In her interview during the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) selection, Sereno maintained that she ‘voted fairly’ on Hacienda Luisita. Sereno told the JBC: “Hindi namin napag-usapan kung magkano talaga…” Basta ako, distribute na kaagad. Sundin lang ang formula. Ganun kasimple….“Walang katotohanan na nais kong pahirapan ang mga magsasaka. Ang sabi ko, regardless of compensation, distribute the land,” she added.

“We are deeply concerned with the future Hacienda Luisita case under the helm of Chief Justice Sereno. We will remain vigilant,” the solon concluded.

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