SC receives compliance report on Hacienda Luisita distribution-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) submitted Wednesday its compliance report to the Supreme Court (SC) on the distribution of the 4,915.75-hectare Hacienda Luisita estate to some 5,365 farmworkers and beneficiaries (FWBs) registered in its preliminary master list.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Anthony Parungao said the department is already half-way through fulfillment of the SC's November 22, 2011 ruling on the distribution of the sugar estate owned by the maternal relatives of President Benigno Aquino III.
A special team has been formed by DAR to look for FWBs in the past six months after the SC ruling became final and executory last April.
By November 30, Parungao said that those in the preliminary list will have already finalized who among the FWBs wanted to be beneficiaries of land distribution and who among them wanted to be exempted and remain with the company. They also have until that date to submit the necessary documents to the SC.
"By all indications, we are confident in the full compliance to the SC order in another six months or by May or June, just right after the 2013 midterm elections. So sometime May or June, this will be done," he said.
In its compliance, the DAR told the SC that it had created a team of 120 field personnel from Tarlac, Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Central Office in Quezon City that conducted interviews in the estate.
When it received the SC order, the agency made a self-imposed deadline of six months of until end of October to come up with the preliminary master list.
A total of 8,641 had initially applied and claimed to be FWBs or heirs.
After months of verification and checking on records - including the list submitted by HLI to the SC, Social Security System records of employees of Tarlac Development Corp. in 1989 and voters' list in the 1989 referendum on the nullified stock distribution plan - the DAR was able to come up with a preliminary masterlist of 5,365 qualified FWBs.
This master list, which includes the names of persons assessed by DAR to be qualified as FWBs or heirs of deceased FWBs, was also posted in the HLI.
Parungao said that about 1,221 other applicants needed to submit additional documents to prove their claims and had been placed in DAR's provisional list of FWBs.
Before the identification of FWBs, the DAR said it first completed the process of segregation from the HLI agricultural land of the 500-hectare converted lot and the 80.51-hectare lot acquired by the government for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.
After coming up with the final master list, the agency said it would then work on the compliance to the payment for just compensation to HLI and also to FWBs for the P1.33 billion earned by HLI from selling the converted land.
In its November 2011 ruling, the SC agreed in the validity of an order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in December 2005 that recalled the stock distribution plan of HLI and placed the land under compulsory coverage of mandated land acquisition scheme of the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program).
Voting 8-6, with one justice abstaining, the SC in its November 2011 decision, ordered the total distribution of HLI lands to registered FWBs using the 1989 valuation. This ruling was upheld by the court in a resolution last April.
In its ruling, the High Court pegged the just compensation to be awarded to HLI based on the fair market value of the land in 1989, rather than the higher valuation in 2006 when the estate was first incorporated.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was among those who dissented from the majority decision, suggested in her dissenting opinion that the value of the land should use the 2006 rate, which would have fetched for HLI P2.5 million per hectare of the land, or P9.75 billion, resulting in a higher windfall for the estate.
According to the farmers, HLI would be compensated just P40,000 per hectare, or P196.6 million, if the 1989 valuation would be applied. If the 2006 valuation would be followed, a hectare of HLI would cost P2.5-million or P9.75-billion. (JCV/Sunnex)