18 August 2010
“Do not be the reason for social justice to be delayed yet again,” reform advocacy group Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change urged the Supreme Court during the oral arguments on the legality of the stock distribution option (SDO) being implemented as a “land reform” scheme in Hacienda Luisita today.
“We hope the Supreme Court will uphold the law and protect the rights and welfare of the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita who have been deprived of social justice for years,” Pagbabago co-chair Judy Taguiwalo said.
“This is the chance for farm workers to own and till land. If the high court turns down their appeal for land distribution, we never know when, or even whether, they will again have this kind of opportunity. This can be a case of ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’” Taguiwalo said.
Pagbabago pointed out that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) have already recommended and issued a resolution for the revocation of the SDO scheme in Hacienda Luisita. The government agencies also ordered that the lands under the SDO plan be placed under the land distribution option of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The Supreme Court justices only have to uphold this, according to Pagbabago.
The resolution and recommendation came after around 80 percent of the farm workers through their organization, AMBALA, filed a petition to revoke the SDO and to stop land-use conversion at the hacienda. Aside from being unfair, they said that the scheme had caused unprecedented poverty among them.
“There is sufficient evidence supporting the claim of the farmers that SDO did not improve their lives and instead pushed them deeper into poverty,” Taguiwalo said.
“DAR and PARC came up with a recommendation and resolution after careful investigation. A task force was even created for the purpose of finding out the truth, as well as a legal team to review the legal issues in the task force’s report ,” Taguiwalo said.
“The ruling of the court, if favorable to the farm workers – i.e. will move for actual land distribution instead of stock distribution – will set a new trend for agrarian reform in the country. It can be the landmark case which will end many other land disputes in the country and break the cycle of abuse and injustice against farmers,” Taguiwalo said. (Bulatlat.com)
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