- Press Statements
- Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
- 24 August 2010
- 0918-9120137 / 0196-6406737
LAGMAN ASKS SC TO RULE STOCK
The transcendental question which the Supreme Court has to resolve in the pending Hacienda Luisita case is the constitutionality of the “stock distribution option” as an alternative to land distribution.
The High Court must not forfeit the opportunity of expunging from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) a 22-year old aberration which derogates on the constitutional mandate of land-to-the-tiller.
The Supreme Court has the authority to adjudicate, whenever possible, “the entire controversy in a single proceeding, leaving no root or branch to bear the seeds of future litigation” as enunciated in Caurdanetaan Piece Workers
The constitutionality of Section 31 of RA No. 6657 (CARL) which authorizes “stock distribution option” as a sufficient compliance with the agrarian reform law has yet to be ruled upon more than two decades after the enactment of the provision.
Grant of shares of stock in lieu of land distribution is repugnant to the precise language and genuine spirit of the Constitution which mandates the distribution of the land to landless farmers and regular farmworkers who till the land.
Section 4 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution unequivocally provides:
“The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till x x x To this end, the State shall encourage and undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands x x x.”
Under the said provision, there are only two questions to be answered: (1) Are the agrarian reform beneficiaries farmers and regular farmworkers tilling the subject landholding?; and (2) Are the farmers and regular farmworkers landless?
If the answers are both in the affirmative, then there is no other option under the Constitution than to distribute the land to the covered beneficiaries.
The farmers and regular farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita are qualified landless tillers who are entitled to land distribution, not stock awards.
No amount of conformity by farmer-beneficiaries can legitimize or sanctify a contrived arrangement or deal designed to circumvent the Constitution.
The principal issue before the Supreme Court is not whether the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council has the power to revoke the Hacienda Luisita “SDO”.
The primordial concern is not the validity of the “SDO” relative to the prescriptive period for the distribution of shares of stock to the beneficiaries.
Neither is the main issue the abridgement of a covenant or contract nor the dilution of the farmer-stockholders’ shares.
While these are relevant ancillary issues, the transcendental question is whether “stock distribution option” is a valid and constitutional recourse to land distribution.
Whatever landlords conceptualize will always be for the good of the landowners and inimical to the tillers of the land. This is the tragic case of the “stock distribution option” of which the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita are the principal proponents and self-serving beneficiaries.