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Church wants land dispute intervention

Dismay as court dismisses stock distribution option offered by the Hacienda Luisita

Church wants land dispute intervention
A policeman stands in front of protesting farmers outside the Supreme Court Wednesday. (Photo by Rene Sandajan) reporters, Manila

July 6, 2011

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A Church official today called on President Benigno Aquino to intervene in a land case involving his relatives after the supreme court failed to resolve the matter and ordered a referendum instead. Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ National Secretariat for Social Action, said the court should not act like Pontius Pilate and wash its hands of the Hacienda Luisita case. In its ruling yesterday, the court dismissed the stock distribution option offered by the Hacienda Luisita but directed the Department of Agrarian Reform to conduct another referendum to again ask farmers affected by the case if they want shares or ownership of parts of the 6,443-hectare sugar estate. "[Aquino] is not only the president; he is also a 'cojuangco' [owner of the estate]. He should ask his relatives to do what is right,” Gariguez told reporters. He added that the secretariat was disappointed with the court decision. “That is to the advantage of the management because they are capable of buying the votes of the farmers … which they already did before.” Farmers from the sugar plantation in court today condemned what they called “judicial deception.” Danilo Ramos, head of the Farmers’ Movement of the Philippines, said the so-called new referendum is a license for the Cojuangco-Aquinos to perpetrate their more than five-decades-long feudal exploitation in Hacienda Luisita.” “The Supreme Court-ordered referendum is the same monstrous scheme used in the 1989 referendum on the stock distribution option and the August 2010 referendum on the compromise agreement,” Ramos said.
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