MANILA -- Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino administration will respect the decision of the High Court, which is an independent body, to transfer the Hacienda Luisita case to the en banc from the First Division.

“I’d like to stress the independence of the judiciary. It was decision made by Chief Justice Corona. I think it was based on his appreciation of the case itself, so we respect the independence of the judiciary,” he said Wednesday.

The Palace official meanwhile admitted that they were not surprised by the decision of Corona.

“Whatever the decision of the Supreme Court might be, we will just leave it to the lawyers of Hacienda Luisita to take the appropriate remedies,” he added.

The Supreme Court (SC) decided to open the Hacienda Luisita case for oral arguments on August 3.

Farmers of the 6,419-hectare sugar plantation filed a petition to the SC asking to revoke the temporary restraining order that stopped land distribution to farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)