P10B compensation for Luisita ‘totally unfair’

MANILA, March 8, 2012— The P10 billion compensation that President Aquino’s family is allegedly demanding for the loss of the Hacienda Luisita is ‘totally unfair,’ a Catholic bishop said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said owners of the vast sugar estate do not even have the right to just compensation because the land should have been distributed to the farmers years ago.

He said that a different case should be applied to the Hacienda Luisita even if the Constitution mandates the payment of just compensation as a result of the recent Supreme Court order.

“This is really an issue on social justice. This is not just an economic issue,” stressed Pabillo, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

In its Nov. 2011 ruling ordering the distribution of the property to the farmers, the SC assured the Hacienda Luisita Inc. of just compensation based on the land’s value in 1989 of P40,000.

Just compensation for the 4,335 hectares was calculated to a total of P173 million.

“So it’s totally unfair for the Cojuangco family to demand P10 billion for the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita to the farmers,” Pabillo said.

The bishop said the 40,000 per hectare land valuation was the same value which the HLI declared in 1989 when they applied for the approval of the stock distribution option (SDO).

As such, he added, they should not be allowed to claim for a much higher valuation.

“Asking for P10 billion is like they don’t really want the land to be distributed,” said Pabillo. “They’ve long benefited from it. It’s about time that they let the poor people benefit from it also.”

The prelate was reacting to a claim by embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona that the impeachment case against him was triggered by the SC decision to distribute the Hacienda Luisita to the farmers.

Corona added that he has opposed the hefty compensation to the Cojuangcos for the loss of their hacienda, thus starting moves to remove him from office. [CBCPNews]