By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The so-called compromise agreement entered into by the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI) and the farm workers of the sugar plantation owned by the family of President Aquino is a sham, with the management having allegedly used as signatories individuals who misrepresented themselves as leaders of the hacienda’s farmers and workers.
Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, the lawyer of the group of farm workers who had earlier filed a petition for the revocation of the stock distribution option (SDO) in Hacienda Luisita, said he would file a petition citing HLI and these individuals in contempt of court.
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Read the compromise agreement
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“We will definitely question in all forums available to us the standing of these individuals with whom HLI management negotiated and hold them accountable for their acts,” Pahilga said.
In negotiating with what Pahilga described as “impostors,” HLI has attempted a repeat of “the 1989 deception” in which HLI management allegedly manipulated the referendums that paved the way for the implementation of the SDO, a scheme that was implemented in lieu of actual land distribution.
“This time, they are trying to manufacture consent by negotiating with individuals who do not have authority to represent the farm workers,” Pahilga said.
“What the HLI is doing is a repeat of the manufactured referendum in 1989, which mothered the protracted strife that now bedevils the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita,” said Pahilga, who is also an executive trustee of Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and lawyer for the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), the farm workers group that is supposedly a signatory to the agreement the Cojuangco-Aquinos disclosed this week.
According to Pahilga, the HLI implemented the SDO scheme through a bogus referendum to evade land distribution. Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, who had followed the case closely ever since, said Saturday that the farm workers “voted under duress when the referendum on the SDO was done in 1989.”
Under the compromise agreement, the farm workers will be given the option to retain shares of stock in the corporation or receive parcels of land from 1,400 hectares or a third of the 6,500-hectare plantation.
Read the compromise agreement
The agreement, a copy of which was sent to Bulatlat by Sentra, was signed by Noel Mallari, who signed as president of Ambala; Eldifonso Pingol, who signed as vice president of the United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu); and Julio Suniga and Windsor Andaya, representatives of the Supervisory Group of HLI and the HLI management.
“This Mallari is an impostor,” Pahilga said. “He is biting on an HLI proposal that was already vehemently rejected by the farm workers.”
Pahilga said Mallari has never been president of Ambala and he had long been ousted from the organization “for acts inimical to the farm workers.” He added that the records of the case pending before the Supreme Court would reveal that he claimed to represent FARM Luisita, not Ambala.
Pahilga said Mallari, then vice president of Ambala, was kicked out of the group after he was caught negotiating with the Luisita management without authority from the farm workers in 2004, the year the group filed the petition to revoke the SDO before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
After the massacre in 2004, Pahilga said Mallari reappeared and represented himself as president of FARM Luisita.
“Mallari misrepresented himself as the president of Ambala even when he did not hold such position and is not even a member of Ambala,” Pahilga said.
He also said the Luisita management is “equally guilty of contempt for negotiating the deal with Mallari when they also know that Mallari has no personality to represent Ambala.”
Pahilga said that in the case before the Supreme Court, Mallari represented FARM Luisita, a group that, based on its statements to the press, also denounced the compromise agreement. Records at the Supreme Court would also show that as late as January 2010, Felix Nakpil, as the president of Ambala, filed a motion to cite HLI management in contempt as they were issuing statements through the Luisita Estate Management to confuse the farmers and muddle the issue, according to Pahilga.
While Pahilga confirmed that Zuniga and Andaya, representatives of the Supervisory Group in the deal, were also his clients in the case before the Supreme Court, he said that the two stopped communicating with Sentra after the high court issued the TRO.