THE management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and farm workers will meet Wednesday as the Supreme Court hears the oral arguments on the validity of the stock distribution option (SDO).

The Court en banc issued the guidelines for the hearing of the land dispute case following its full-court session Tuesday. This is in lieu of placing the Cojuangco family’s vast sugar lands under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

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The High Court required respondent Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform to comment within 10 days on the motion of HLI seeking the Court’s approval of the August 6 compromise agreement of the management and the farmers.

Likewise, the HLI was required to file its reply within 10 days on the Comment-Opposition filed by the respondent farmers’ group, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala), asking the SC to expunge the compromise agreement.

Ambala members were among those who did not sign the compromise deal prepared by HLI, which is pushing for the implementation of the SDO.

The Court also denied the motion of lawyers Marlon Manuel and Christian Monsod to intervene and participate in the oral arguments as the parties are already deemed well-represented by their respective counsels.

However, the August 6 compromise agreement signed by the HLI management and its farmer-beneficiaries is not among the issues outlined by the SC for discussion during the oral arguments.

Lawyer Gleo Guerra, assistant chief of the Public Information Office of the SC, said that even though it was not mentioned in the guidelines, there is no prohibition for the parties to raise the compromise deal during the oral arguments.

Under the guidelines, each party – through their respective counsels – shall have a maximum of 25 minutes to present their arguments.

In case more than one lawyer will present arguments for one party, the lead counsel shall decide on how to share the 25 minutes with his or her co-counsels.

The time allotted for the counsels to argue and counter-argue shall be exclusive of the interpolation of the justices of the High Court.

The parties were directed to focus their discussions on the following issues:

* Whether or not PARC has jurisdiction, power or authority to revoke the SDO, as embodied in the Memorandum of Agreement dated May 11, 1989. If so, whether or not PARC, 16 years after the execution of the SDO agreement, can still validly revoke the same without violating the due process and the non-impairment guaranty;

* Whether or not there is legal basis for the revocation of the SDO agreement. Whether or not the implementation of the SDO conforms to Section 31 of the agrarian reform law (CARL) and its implementing rules, DAR Administrative Order 10, series of 1988;

* Whether or not the petitioners before the DAR-PARC are real parties-in-interest, and who are the qualified farm worker-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita;

* Whether or not the rights, obligations and remedies of the parties to the SDO agreement are now governed by the Corporation Code and not by the CARL. Whether or not the revocation of the SDO and the resulting distribution of the agricultural land to the farm worker-beneficiaries of HL will cause the dissolution of petitioner HLI;

* Whether or not Luisita Industrial Park Corp and RCBC, as transferees of a portion of HL, may revoke the doctrine of innocent purchaser for value in the instant case.

Representing HLI are lawyers from the Belo Gozon Elma Parel Asuncion and Lucila law office, while the farmers will be represented by their counsels Jobert Pahilga for Ambala and Carmelito Santoyo for United Luisita Workers, respectively. The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand, will represent the PARC and DAR. (JCV/Sunnex)