• Panel to look into Luisita books

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    The Supreme Court (SC) has tapped a panel of accountants to audit the Hacienda Luisita book of accounts.

    The panel shall be tasked to look into the P1.33-billion proceeds of the sale of the three lots in 1996.

    Those tapped were the firms of Ocampo, Mendoza, Leong and Lim and Navarro Amper & Co., and certified public accountant Carissa May Pay-Penson.

    Lawyer Theodore Te, head of the Court’s public information office said that the panel will be given 90 days to do its audit to determine if the P1.33 billion “was actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes.”

    “Any contentious issue [on the audit]is to be decided by the SC based on the submissions of the panel members,” the statement said.

    “The period to be covered by the audit shall be from the respective dates of receipt of the payments for the lot until the finality of the Court’s July 5, 2011 decision. Thus, any ordinary or necessary business expenditure incurred after the finality of the Court’s decision shall not be deductible from the P1.3 billion subject of the special audit.”

    The Court, with a unanimous vote of 14-0, affirmed its earlier voting on July 5, 2011 and November 23, 2011 for land distribution for the farmers.

    The Court ordered the distribution of the land to farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), a sugar plantation of the Cojuangco and Aquino family. The Corona court voted in favor to the best interest of the farmers. The ruling favors the distribution of 4,915 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to farmer-beneficiaries. The SC ordered HLI to pay farm workers P1.3-billion less the amount they have already received.

    The 15-man Court affirmed its November 23, 2011 ruling by stating that
    agricultural lands must always be in the control of land tillers. As to the issue of just compensation to the Aquino-Cojuangco family, with a vote of 8-6, the Court en banc affirmed its verdict to compensate the landowners based on the 1989 valuation or P40,000 per hectare instead of 2006 rates or about P1 million per hectare.

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