• SC refuses to stop Hacienda raffle

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    THE Supreme Court (SC) refused to stop the raffle or “tambiolo” system in distributing the farmlands of Hacienda Luisita to more than 6,000 farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs), and instead directed the farmers’ bid for a collective ownership of the land to the government.

    In a notice of resolution signed by Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal, the high court has given the government ten days to comment on the motion filed by Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Amabala).

    In their petition, Amabala urged the high tribunal to 1) order the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to clarify the basis of the survey of the land; 2) order the DAR to explain the discrepancy in the number of hectares for distribution to the farmworker-beneficiaries; 3) allow the appointment of a Geodetic Engineer or surveyor to validate the survey conducted by the DAR; 4) enjoin the raffle or “tambiolo” system of land distribution; 5) allow collective ownership of the land by the FWBs; 6) enjoin the DAR from collecting amortization payments from the FWBs; 7) enjoin the DAR from compelling the FWBs to sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU); 8) order the DAR to appoint the FWBs’ accounting firm of choice to audit Hacienda Luisita Inc.

    The farmers insisted that the allocation of the lands by raffle has denied them the opportunity for collective ownership of the land, which is allowed under Section 4, Article 13 of the Constitution and Section 25 of Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Law.

    “Section 22 of RA 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act) clearly mandates that lands placed under the coverage of the agrarian reform program should be distributed to the beneficiary of the same barangay where the land is located. This is based on practical considerations and to prevent unnecessary expenses to the beneficiary,” the motion stated.

    “In the raffle or ‘tambiolo’ system, it may happen that one FWB will be awarded a parcel of land located far away from his place of residence,” Ambala said.

    The DAR has started the raffle of farm lots, which was made open to the public in July. The allocation is expected to be completed by August 21.

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also took note of the compliance submitted by the Office of the Solicitor General detailing the actions made by the DAR in lieu with the high court’s decision on the case.

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