August 18, 2010
Lawyer Edre U. Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said that the high court has the opportunity now to possibly settle the decades long land dispute between the Hacienda Luisita management and its farm workers. “This land dispute has to be viewed according to the state policy of social justice. In the end, it is the right to own the land and the economic rights of the toiling and hapless farm workers that should be addressed by the Supreme Court,” Olalia stressed.
The NUPL is a voluntary bar association of human rights lawyers in the country. Some of its members are representing the farm workers in the said land dispute case. Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, the NUPL deputy secretary general for campaigns and advocacy, will argue before the high court today on behalf of the farm workers.
“The state policy on social justice can only be realized in this case if the lands are actually distributed to the farm workers. Anything short of that will only further and advance the oppressive and exploitative feudal relations between the Hacienda Luisita management and the farm workers. We hope that the high court will fulfill its duty to give meaning to social justice,” Olalia added.
Olalia believes that the compromise agreement between the Hacienda Luisita management and farm workers is full of legal infirmities. “The public debate is no longer about whether the compromise agreement is valid or not. It is very evident that the management pursued such compromise agreement to pre-empt the decision of the Supreme Court. It is utterly unjust and the management has taken advantage of the poverty and destitution of the farm workers. It is intended to confuse the high court on the real issue of the case, that is, the right of the farm workers to own the lands that they have been cultivating for decades.”
“This is a classic feudal case of landlords who are very adamant in their refusal to distribute the lands. That is why President Benigno Aquino III, a member of the Cojuangco clan, should rise above his class, above the economic and political interests of his clan by pursuing a genuine land reform through the actual distribution of the lands to the farm workers. The farm workers have long been suffering, they have been crying for justice for a long time. The President should not ignore their just plea,” Olalia ended. (Bulatlat.com)
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Acting Secretary-General
Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag