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Court orders Aquino land distribution
Landmark decision gives thousands of workers a piece of the Hacienda Luisita estateHacienda Luisita farm workers rally in front of the Supreme Court building in Manila (photo: Rene Sandajan)
- Michael Diaz and Dâ€™Jay Lazaro, Manila
- November 24, 2011
The decision -- 14 of 15 justices voted for the distribution of the land -- ends a long drawn out battle to protect workersâ€™ rights.
In its 56-page ruling, the court amended a decision it made in July giving 6,296 farm workers the choice of owning agricultural land or shares amounting to the value of the estate.
The decision today follows an appeal by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council and means 4,916 hectares of land will be divided and given to the workers.
â€śControl over agricultural land must always be in the hands of the farmers,â€ť the court said, adding that shares in the estate would not benefit the farmer-beneficiaries.
The court also ordered Hacienda Luisita Inc. to pay the beneficiaries 1.33 billion pesos (US$32 million) for previous sales of estate properties.
Father Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic bishopsâ€™ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, welcomed the ruling, calling it "a long awaited decision and a step forward for the court in its efforts to prove that it can truly stand for truth and justice.â€ť
The secretariat has been at the forefront of the Churchâ€™s campaign for genuine agrarian reform in the country.