We in Akbayan Party welcome the Supreme Court's reversal of its previous ruling on the Hacienda Luisita case. It is a great victory not only for the beneficiaries but also for every Filipino farmer. Now it is crystal clear,  land distribution is the sole, genuine avenue of agrarian reform. Likewise, this decision affirms the  Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program- Extension with Reforms (CARPER) - farmers must own the lands they till and it is the onus of government to guarantee it.

Akbayan Party congratulates the beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita for this outstanding victory. For too long the farmers of Hacienda Luisita have waited to see the land they toil become theirs. What was once only a dream is now reality. They have struggled against the seemingly insurmountable odds of landlord power and state ineptitude. And, despite all of these, they have persevered, struggled and won.

 

This could not have been possible were it not for the persistent efforts of the broad peasant movement which includes the Sumilao and Banasi farmers among others, and the different social movements who lent support to the beneficiaries in this monumental struggle.

Distribute Hacienda Luisita, Finish CARPER

However, while the momentum is on the side of agrarian reform, the people cannot afford to be complacent. As we celebrate this momentous occasion, vigilance is necessary . The landlords in Hacienda Luisita still have a few aces up their sleeves and they will not hesitate to use it to derail agrarian reform at all costs. And this is true not only for Hacienda Luisita, but also for the other farmer-beneficiaries who have yet to receive their parcels of land to till.

For this reason, the immediate distribution of the land should be the next crucial step that the Aquino government must take. This must be implemented without fear of harassment and/or retaliation from forces that will benefit from an undistributed Hacienda Luisita under the Aquino administration.

We also call on President Aquino to support House Resolution 253 filed by Akbayan Representatives Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello calling for an investigation of all the other Stock Distribution Options (SDOs) aside from Hacienda Luisita. President Aquino must show resolve in handling this issue by using the HLI case as a strong precedent for other estates around the country to be justly distributed to the farmers.

As of now, there are still around 1 million hectares of agricultural lands under the coverage of CARP that remains to be distributed.There are only 2 years left before CARPER expires. The law may now be on the side of the farmers, but time is not.

Supreme Court must reform

Lastly, and yet again, we call the attention of the Supreme Court for its propensity to issue decisions of great dissonance to the people's welfare. Lest we forget, before this reversal, the high tribunal disapproved the SDO in Hacienda Luisita only to mind-bogglingly call for a referendum among HLI farmers to help them “decide” whether they want the SDO or land distribution. The same confusing decisions were also seen in the high tribunal's flip flopping on the  FASAP retrenchment case and most recently, in its issuance of an ineffective temporary restraining order on the watchlist order against the Arroyos.

It is very bothering that the court of last resort which should provide the people with ultimate legal enlightenment is fast becoming a court of legal befuddlement. Not even its reversal on the Hacienda Luisita case will deodorize the stench of its erratic rulings on the mentioned cases. Unfortunately, the fatal inconsistencies of its recent decisions not only confused the public but ultimately, served the interest of a privileged few.

The Supreme Court must immediately reform itself if its wants to retain its credibility and legitimacy.  It can start by apologizing to the public beginning with the  Hacienda Luisita farmers. ###