MANILA -- More than 70 percent of the total 10,502 farm worker shareholders of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) have chosen the stock distribution option (SDO), the HLI reported.

The result of the census from August 6 to 10 revealed that out of the 10,502, 7,441 signed the compromise agreement representing 70.85 percent. Out of this number, 7,302 (98.13 percent) of which voted for SDO, while 139 (1.87 percent) voted for land distribution.

At this time, 3,061 have not voted. Around two thirds of this, or roughly 2,000 persons, are now reported to be leaving outside Luisita while the other 1,000 plus were reported to be unaccounted for, which means either they are not in favor of the compromise or was just unable to vote.

The milestone agreement was signed Friday between HLI and the three farmer-leaders of Alyansang ng mga Mangagagawang Bukid ng Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA), United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (Supervisory Group).

The lands that will be distributed to farm worker beneficiaries, for free, are productive agricultural lands, which will also be given away clean of any and all lien or encumbrances.

“Lahat ng ito ay ayon sa layunin na maging maunlad at makatarungan ang kalagayan ng mga taga Luisita,” said lawyer Fernando Cojuangco.

HLI will also provide financial assistance to all farmer-beneficiaries in the amount of P150 million, which shall be released on a staggered basis upon the Supreme Court’s (SC) approval of the compromise agreement.

According to lawyer Tony Ligon, spokesperson of HLI, the parties signed the agreement “freely and voluntarily” and “agreed to cooperate with each other in good faith” in implementing the provisions of the agreement.

Meanwhile, ULWU's vice president Eldifonso Pingol is disowning its president Lito Bais who earlier contested the agreement saying the farmers were unaware of any settlement.

“Una, hindi siya ang elected president. Magpapatunay ang mga tao do’n. Pero hindi na ako masyado pa magsasalita tungkol diyan dahil makakapagpatunay talaga ang mga tao. At hindi ko rin alam kung saan niya nakuha ’yan,” Pingol said in a statement. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)