Supreme Court questions agrarian reform dept. over failure to implement Hacienda Luisita sugar estate distribution


By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano and a group of farmers to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for alleged failure to implement its decision on the distribution of the sugar estate Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

The sprawling estate had been under the control of the family of former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino III for around six decades before the SC ordered in November 2011 the total distribution of the 4,335-hectare property to around 6,200 farmworker beneficiaries.

The SC sustained its ruling in April 2012.

In its latest order, the SC directed on May 15 Mariano and the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala) to file their respective comment within 10 days in line with the motion filed by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) on April 27.
RCBC has accused DAR of failing to segregate the 500-hectare property which DAR ordered converted into an industrial estate in 1996. The Yuchengco-led bank owns 184 hectares of the area.

Last February, Mariano partially revoked the conversion order for 384 hectares under RCBC and Luisita Realty Corp. on the ground that the lands remained undeveloped.

Mariano’s order essentially put the lands under agrarian reform.

Buoyed by the revocation order, youth activists and farmers trooped to the sugar plantation on April 26, smashing walls and bringing down a watch tower inside the RCBC property—as they claimed ownership.