MANILA, Nov. 25, 2011— Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, Catholic Church officials called on President Benigno Aquino III to ensure the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to the farmers and provide them with support services.
Fr. Edu Gariguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action— Justice and Peace (Nassa) said he is certain Aquino’s clan, which owns the vast sugar plantation, will make moves to block the land distribution.
“The Cojuangcos will definitely oppose land distribution as what they did in the long history of this struggle,” Gariguez said.
“President Aquino must now show impartiality and political will in implementing social reform law. He should not give special favors to his relatives and friends,” he said.
Nassa is the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which is at the forefront of the Church’s campaign for agrarian reform.
The CBCP official also vowed the Church will keep an eye on the case until the agricultural land is fully distributed to the 6,296 farmer beneficiaries.
“Land distribution is just the primary step in genuine land reform. We will continue our work to ensure that the farmers will be given the needed support services,” he said.
“The government, under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, is supposed to help the farmers. Without this support, the farmers are always in danger of losing their lands,” Gariguez added.
The High Court on Wednesday ordered the distribution of 4,915 hectare Hacienda Luisita to the farmers.
It also ordered the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) management to pay farm worker beneficiaries P1.3 billion—P500 million for the sale of 200 hectares of land in 1996, P750 million for the sale of the Luisita Industrial Park and another P80 million for the sale of the 80-hectare lot for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) road network. [CBCPNews]