SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- A farmers’ group debunked yesterday the claim of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) blaming farm workers in Hacienda Luisita of conflict over the selection of the firm to audit the Cojuangco-controlled Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) and Centenary Holdings Inc. (CHI).
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP) assailed “as proof of bias against Hacienda Luisita farm workers” the DAR’s move seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention on the impasse over the selection of an accounting firm.
“The farm workers are united in their choice of the Ocampo, Mendoza, Leung, and Lim (OMLL) firm to handle the auditing,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores in a statement.
The auditing requirement was in connection with the order of the Supreme Court in 2011 to distribute Hacienda Luisita lands to the farm workers, specifically its order to the hacienda management to also give them some P1.3 billion as their share in the sale of some 500 hectares of hacienda lands to third parties.
Earlier, Agrarian Reform Sec. Virgilio Delos Reyes said: “We wish to put on record that it is the disagreement among parties concerned, and not the DAR, that is the cause of the delay in the audit process.”
Flores said “the DAR’s move seeking intervention from the Supreme Court on the issue of identifying which firm will audit HLI and CHI is not a simple issue of indecisiveness and incompetence on the part of the DAR.”
“It concretely shows the DAR’s bias against the farm workers and puppetry to the President and the Cojuangco family,” Flores said.
“Delos Reyes should stop covering his puppetry to the Cojuangcos by blaming the parties’ so-called disagreement. The farm workers are united in their choice of auditing firm,” he stressed.
Flores said “giving Cojuangco companies the power to choose Cojuangco-friendly auditing firms smacks of conflict of interest. Aquino’s DAR cannot be trusted.”
“We challenge the Sereno-led Supreme Court to immediately dismiss, not to legitimize or even dignify this DAR-Cojuangco maneuver to evade payment of the P1.3 billion debt of the President’s family to the farm workers,” Flores also said, referring to the order of the Supreme Court.
The three accounting firms which have expressed interest in taking on the special audit include OMLL; Reyes, Tacandong and Company; and San Agustin and Company.
Still, the KMP reiterated calls for “zero compensation” for the Cojuangco-Aquino family which controlled the hacienda since 1957.
KMP insisted on “free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers” noting that “the President’s family enriched themselves for almost six decades of control over the lands.”