THE long-standing land dispute case involving the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) finally moved forward after the High Court ordered the management of the sugar estate Wednesday to enumerate its current stockholders and their corresponding shares.

Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court gave petitioner HLI 15 days within which to submit the required list.

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Marquez said the new requirement being sought by the court prompted the magistrate to consider the temporary deferment of the scheduled oral arguments on the case on August 3.

“That will still have to be discussed by the court during the en banc session next Tuesday whether the August 3 oral arguments will push through, pending the submission by petitioners of the required list,” he said.

The Supreme Court (SC), Marquez said, has already directed the clerk of court to cause the personal delivery of the resolution to the counsels of parties. He said the stockholding list might have a bearing on the case, that’s why petitioner was being required to submit it.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Renato Corona ordered that the case be referred to the en banc from the First Division after conducting an “informal survey” among other members of the court.

Malicious report

Meanwhile, Marquez branded Newsbreak, an online news magazine, as "malicious" after it reported that Corona met with Jose "Peping" Cojuangco in his house in Dasmarinas Village in Makati before the inauguration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Marquez said the report came out at the time when the Court announced the scheduled oral arguments on the agrarian case.

“The Newsbreak article is not true. The Chief Justice categorically denies it. No such meeting took place. It is unfortunate that something is being invented with a headline that the meeting raises ethical question because to begin with, no such meeting took place,” he said.

The court spokesman said at present, the Court is not inclined to take action on this new “affront” although he said that personally, he thought that the article was libelous to the Court.

“Things like this have to stop. It erodes slowly the trust and confidence on our courts, reports like this.”

Marquez however admitted that Corona and Cojuangco had an occasion to meet when the chief justice was invited to a function of Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta, the party-list group of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

He said Corona was asked to seat at the presidential table, and when Cojuangco came, he was also asked to sit in the same table, though at the other end of it.

But Marquez said the way the article was written, they made it appear as if there was something illicit about the meeting.

In June 2006, the SC issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) from executing Resolution no. 2005-32-01, subjecting the Cojuangco family’s sugar estate under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

To date, the SC has yet to revoke the TRO and the case has remained pending before the tribunal. (JCV/Sunnex)