By Jojo Malig
MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should uphold the Supreme Court decisions distributing Hacienda Luisita to farmers, as well as its original valuation, party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said Friday.
Mariano, in a press statement, accused Sereno of being allegedly biased in favor of President Benigno Aquino’s clan because of her opinion that higher compensation should be given to the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and the Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco).
He said Sereno set the land valuation of the sugar estate at 2006 levels at the time of the Notice of Coverage, which would have given HLI and Tadeco P5 billion as compensation.
“Although I agree with the majority with respect to the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option Agreement, the immediate compulsory coverage of the agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and their immediate distribution to the qualified farmworker-beneficiaries, I maintain my dissent regarding the following: (a) the amount of just compensation to be awarded to petitioner Hacienda Luisita, Inc., and Tarlac Development Corporation should be reckoned from the fair market value under the law, rules and jurisprudence, specifically as of the date of the issuance of the Notice of Coverage on 02 January 2006,” Sereno said in her dissenting opinion.
The SC en banc, in an 8-6 ruling, decided to compensate the landowners based on November 21, 1989 valuation instead of 2006 rates.
Mariano claimed that the new chief justice “is politically indebted” to Aquino.
“She was Aquino’s first appointee to the Supreme Court. Now at 52, Sereno will enjoy an 18-year term as SC Chief Justice from 2012 to 2030. Aquino will have authority over the Philippine judiciary, way beyond his presidency. Sereno’s appointment is definitely a family decision of the Cojuango-Aquinos,” he claimed.
Sereno, during her interview before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), denied that she is biased in favor of Aquino’s family.
“Uniform ang jurisprudence natin. May formula ang just compensation. Sinabi ko, kailangan i-distribute immediately, we followed a formula,” she said.
“Bigla na lang po lumabas yung P10 billion (just compensation amount) sa media. Wala sa (Supreme Court) records at all kung magkano yung babayaran. Pinaliwanag ko iyun in my 3rd opinion. Walang katotohanan na nais kong pahirapan yung mga magsasaka,” she said.
Sereno was among high court justices who unanimously ordered the distribution of 4,915.7466 hectares of Hacienda Luisita in November 2011.