SC names audit team to scrutinize Hacienda Luisita firms

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Monday, February 10, 2014

MANILA -- Auditors endorsed by the farmworker-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita will help examine the books of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. and Centenary Holdings, the Supreme Court (SC) said in a resolution last month.

The 90-day audit seeks to determine if the P1,330,511,500 proceeds of the sale of 580 hectares of Luisita were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes.

Comprising the audit team are Ocampo, Mendoza, Leong and Lim (OMLL), which was tapped by the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), accountant Carissa May Pay-Penson and Navarro, Amper & Co. (Deloitte)

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 High Court's July 5, 2011 decision, which ordered the distribution of the 4,335-hectare sugar estate to 6,296 farm-worker beneficiaries.

“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,” it said.

Specifically, HLI received P500 million from Luisita Realty, Inc. for the sale of 200 hectares of land in 1996; P750 million for the sale of the Luisita Industrial Park; and P80,511,500 for the sale of the 80.51-hectare lot for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) road network.

To be deducted from the P1.3 billion is the 3 percent of the proceeds of the sale of the 500-hectare and 80.51-hectare portions that were already distributed to the FWBs; the taxes and expenses paid by HLI for the transfer of the title to the transferees of the 500-hectare and the 80.51 hectare portions; and the legitimate corporate expenses incurred by HLI and Centenary Holdings.

The new amount will then be shared by FWBs.

“We welcome the resolution. It’s long overdue. Although we do not know the other accountants, at least OMLL is there. The FWBs have long been deprived of their rightful share on the sale of 580 hectares of Luisita land,” said Ambala lawyer Jobert Pahilga in a text message.

He also found it ironic that the maternal relatives of President Benigno Aquino III have already received P417 million as just compensation “for the land which was not theirs in the first place.”

Ambala had accused the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of favoring HLI when it rejected OMLL due to the company's opposition.

Allowing HLI to pick its own auditor, the group said, will only compromise the independence and regularity of the process.

HLI was pushing for either Reyes Tacandong and Co. or Manabat San Agustin and Co., which Ambala rejected for their previous links to Sycip Gorres Velayo and Co. Philippines (SGV). SGV is the external auditor of HLI from 1989 to 2006. (Sunnex)

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