The case of Hacienda Luisita was decided on by the Supreme Court about a month ago, pursuant to an order of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) in December 2005 (during GMA’s term), upholding PARC’s order to distribute the 4,915.75-hectare Hacienda Luisita land to the original 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries. It was a unanimous decision.

Aquino appointee, Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, however, stated that the land price of Hacienda Luisita should be pegged at the market value in 2008, which could amount to P2.5 million per hectare — P2.5M per hectare x 5,000 hectares = P12.5B. None of the other Justices agreed with her stating that the land price of Hacienda Luisita should be pegged at the 1989 level, which is about P40,000 to P70,000 per hectare, or when multiplied by 5,000 (x 70,000) would equal P350M or a difference of P12,150,000,000. The Palace nor Congress did not raise a howl about the possibility that Justice Sereno was biased in favor of her appointing power, PNoy, whose immediate family would be the recipient of that amount, perhaps, because it would not be fair to her for them to presume that; and the Palace and Congress are not one to be unfair, right?

That kind of money, P12.5B, or the dollar equivalent of US$ 298M is a large amount for any family to receive, the wealthy Cojuangco’s included. When you consider that the Court also ordered the Cojuangco family to pay the original farmer-beneficiaries with over P1.33 billion it earned from selling the 500-hectare converted portion of the land estate, including the P500 million it received from Luisita Realty Inc. for the sale of 200 converted hectares, P750 million for the sale of the other 300-hectare converted land to Luisita Industrial Park Corp. by its subsidiary, Centennary Holdings Inc., and the P80, 511,500 it received from the government for the SCTEX project that now charges motorists for its use. When you add that all up, you realize that the family could sure use the amount Justice Serreno has suggested even if no other Justice agreed…for now. It has also been reported that HLI owes San Miguel another P2B bringing their total payables to close to P5B. That’s a lot of debt to pay even if they’ve made multiple times more than that over the last 50 years from the produce and partial sale of the land they’ve managed to hold on to since they acquired it. The acquisition was made possible in 1958 through a government loan that required them to distribute the land to the farmers as early as 1968, or ten years after acquisition, as part of the terms of that loan. If the amount of the land were pegged at the price Justice Serreno opined, no problem; that would still leave them with a hefty P7.5B in change after paying those debts. However, if the price the rest of the Justices said was the correct price, then they would have to dig into their pockets, deep as they are, for another P4.5B to pay their debts.

If you were in the shoes of their family and one of you happened to be President, a popular one at that, what would you do? And imagine, too, that you were a Representative of Congress, needing to be re-elected next year, without scruples the likes of most of them, and were asked by Malacanang, holders and distributors of the “pork barrel,” to impeach Corona never mind for what reason since you were not allowed to read the articles anyway, what would you do? You may ask, “what does the impeachment have to do with Hacienda Luisita”? Everything. If the President were sincere in his “daang matuwid,” he would not tolerate, much less encourage, the old corrupt practice of control of the Lower House with the use of “pork barrel.”
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