Prophets’ teachings don’t favor HLI’s stand
GOD’S WILL for the farmers is manifestly stated by the prophets. Jeremiah said: “You shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy their fruit.” (Jer. 31:5) The prophet Isaiah had this to say: “They shall plant vineyard and eat their fruit, they shall not plant and another eat.” (Isaiah 65:21-22)
The prophets made it clear that it is God’s will that the farmers enjoy the labor of their hands, that they plant not for the benefit of those who lord it over them.
The farmers and farm workers at Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) are far from enjoying the fruits of their labor. For so long a time now, the 6,453 hectares of land, supposed to be theirs by action of proper government agencies, are possessed and owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan. The HLI workers and farmers were—and still are—made to believe, through the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), that they own the land as stockholders. But in reality they receive only a pittance of what they are supposed to receive.
The recent decision of the Supreme Court is likewise deceptive. The Court ruled out the SDO for being unconstitutional, and yet it did not order the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to distribute outright the land to the farmers and farm workers who are the land’s real owners. Instead the Court asked that a referendum be conducted to ask for the preference of the farmers and farm workers, whether they want their land, or stock ownership.
If this referendum is done, surely the Cojuangco-Aquino clan will do the necessary maneuverings so that the farmers will choose the SDO as was done in the past. This process offers no hope for HLI’s farmers and farm workers.
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum, a fellowship of bishops from the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in the Philippines, supports the aspiration and struggle of HLI’s farmers and farm workers to own the land that properly belongs to them. The farmers and farm workers have suffered enough, nay, too much, and they deserve justice.
We call on the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling. No to referendum!
We call for the outright distribution of the 6,453 hectares of the sugar estate to the farmers and farm workers! Land to the tillers!
—BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON, executive secretary, MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ, JR., D.D. and BISHOP SOLITO K. TOQUERO, co-chairpersons, Ecumenical Bishops Forum, [email protected]
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