By Rey G. Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to explain in 10 days why they should not be held in contempt for their failure to implement its 2011 decision that mandated the actual distribution of the more than 4,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac to 6,296 farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) who will pay just compensation based on the 1989 land valuation.
Also ordered to explain in 10 days from receipt of the notice were the officials of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala).
In a resolution issued last May 3, the High Court said: “Acting on the urgent motion for the issuance of a writ of execution and/or cease and desist order dated April 27, 2017, the Court resolved to require respondents 1. Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and 2. Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala) to a. comment thereon and b. show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court for disobeying the Decision dated July 5, 2011 and Resolutions dated Nov. 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012, both within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice hereof.”
The SC acted on the motion filed by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) which claimed that DAR Secretary Mariano violated the High Court’s decision which, among other things, segregated a 500-hectare lot that had been converted into industrial land under a conversion order issued by the DAR itself.
Part of the segregated 500-hectare lot is a property of RCBC consisting of 184 hectares.
Last month, supposed farmer-workers and militant groups rallied in front of the RCBC property and claimed their supposed rights over it.
Final and executory
It was on April 24, 2012 when the SC declared final its July 5, 2011 decision and the Nov. 22, 2011 resolution that mandated the actual distribution of the Hacienda Luisita land to farmer-beneficiaries.
Fourteen justices, led by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. — who wrote the April 24, 2012 resolution, the original July 5, 2011 decision and the Nov. 22, 2011 resolution — voted to deny the motion for clarification and reconsideration filed by Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI), the managing firm of the sugarcane plantation.
On the issue of just compensation, eight justices voted to affirm the Nov. 22, 2011 resolution that pegged the payment to the owners by the farmer beneficiaries based on the 1989 land valuation and not on the 2006 land valuation HLI prayed for.
Based on the 1989 land valuation, the farmer beneficiaries are expected to pay only about P40,000 per hectare compared to the 2006 level of about P2 million per hectare.
Hacienda Luisita owners – the family and relatives of former President Benigno S. Aquino III – had assured their “full cooperation in the expeditious completion of the process” of distributing the 4,915 hectares of land to farmer beneficiaries as ordered by the SC.
The April 24, 2012 resolution stated that “even though the compensation due to HLI will still be preliminarily determined by DAR and LBP…the fact that the reckoning point of ‘taking’ is already fixed at a certain date should already hasten the proceedings and not further cause undue hardship on the parties, especially the qualified [farmworker beneficiaries].”
According to the SC, the just compensation determined by the DAR and LBP would be subject to review by a special agrarian court (SAC).
“As regards the issue of interest on just compensation, We also leave this matter to the DAR and the LBP, subject to review by the [regional trial court] acting as a SAC,” the SC said.
The Nov. 22, 2011 resolution modified the July 5, 2011 decision that allowed the farmer beneficiaries an option to either get their portion of the agricultural land or remain as stockholders of HLI.
Tags: 1989 land valuation, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs), Hacienda Luisita, Manila Bulletin, SC gives DAR 10 days to explain why it defied 2011 decision on H. Luisita, Supreme Court (SC)