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Court urged to settle farmers’ case

'Suspicious' delay could be opportunity to use dispute for political bargaining

Bishop Broderick Pabillo (center) at a Supreme Court hearing on Hacienda Luisita Bishop Broderick Pabillo (center) at a Supreme Court hearing on Hacienda Luisita
  • Lourdes Abelardo and D’Jay Lazaro, Manila
  • Philippines
  • June 14, 2011
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An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is asking the Supreme Court to settle “once and for all” the case filed by farmworkers against the owner of Hacienda Luisita, the family of President Benigno Aquino.

“We are worried because the Hacienda Luisita case has dragged on for a long time and the Supreme Court has yet to rule on it,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA), said on Church-run Radio Veritas.

“The delay is suspicious. Are they not done studying it? Maybe they’re just waiting for an opportunity to use the case for political bargaining,” he said.

Bishop Pabillo said the farmworkers also wanted to talk with the president. “They want the lands given to them. This dialogue is not for me but for the farmers who are victims of the unjust deal,” he said.

He said having a ruling on the Hacienda Luisita would prove that the government is serious in implementing the agrarian reform program championed by Aquino’s mother, Corazon, during her term as president and extended with reforms in August 2009.

“We’re calling on the Supreme Court to decide the case according to law and not to political compromises,” he said.

Last week, the High Court failed again to issue a ruling on the Hacienda Luisita case after the justices could not agree on how to cast their vote and decided to just look to settle it this week.
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