Farmers troop to Congress for CARPER extension bill

MANILA, Philippines – Several farmer groups, along with civil society and religious organizations, will be marching to the House of Representatives (HOR) on Tuesday, May 26, to put pressure on lawmakers to pass House Bill Nos 4296 and 4375 into law.

As an amendment to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) Law, HB 4296 will extend CARPER’s land acquisition and distribution component for another two years. (READ: Agrarian reform deadline: 41,500 hectares not yet covered)

The Senate version of this bill, Senate Bill No 2278, passed on its third and final reading last September 2014.

Meanwhile, HB 4375 aims to create an independent Agrarian Reform Commission which will evaluate the “actual” accomplishment of CARPER and investigate possible violations in the law’s implementation.

According to Agrarian Reform Now! (AR Now!) national coordinator Wilson Requez, they are expecting hundreds of farmers and other agrarian reform advocates to march together on Tuesday to appeal for the immediate passage of the bills.

The marchers will be coming from groups like AR Now!, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (ANIBAN), Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (KATARUNGAN), Task Force Mapalad (TFM), Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka at Nagkakaisang Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (Unorka), and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA).

They are collectively mobilizing under the “Sulong CARPER” movement.

Their mass action on Tuesday, which members call “Lakbayan,” will also feature a short program in St. Peter’s Parish along Commonwealth Avenue in the morning and a torch parade around the HOR complex in the evening.

Alam naman natin ngayon [na] sa Congress, ang mainit na issue ay yung BBL, so ang pinaka-avenue ng mga magsasaka para talaga makapagtulak nung passage nung [mga] batas na ito is yung [Lakbayan],” said Requez.

(We know that the hottest issue in Congress right now is the BBL, so Lakbayan is the avenue for farmers to push for the passage of the House bills.)

President Benigno Aquino III previously certified as urgent the passage of HB 4296. However, it is still pending in the Lower House together with HB 4375.

Ang panawagan namin ay implementasyon… Lagi silang nangangako pero wala namang nangyayari,” said PAKISAMA assistant advocacy officer Egay Morondas.

(We are calling for actual implementation… They always make promises but nothing really happens.)

Sulong CARPER plans to lobby for the two HBs until June 10.

Root of poverty

CONTINUING FIGHT. Farmers rally at the gates of the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Tuesday, May 26 for the extension of CARPER's LAD component. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

CONTINUING FIGHT. Farmers rally at the gates of the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Tuesday, May 26 for the extension of CARPER's LAD component.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

According to Requez, Sulong CARPER members consider Lakbayan as crucial in their fight for their land rights.

Mahalaga siya kasi ito yung pagpapakita ng mga magsasaka na mayroon pa talagang mga puwersa, lalo na dito sa may kanayunan, na handang-handang kumilos para dito sa issue ng repormang agraryo,” he said.

(It’s important because this is the farmers’ way of showing that there are still forces ready to mobilize on the issue of agrarian reform.)

Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary at CBCP-NASSA, echoed the same sentiments. He said his organization has long been advocating for agrarian reform.

Ito ay sa dahil pangunahing kadahilanan [na] ang Simbahan ay nais nating maging totoo sa panawagan na maging Simbahan ng mga maralita, ng mga mahihirap (This is because we want the Church to stay true to the call for it to be a Church for the poor)."

Gariguez added, “Kung susuriin natin yung ugat ng kahirapan sa Pilipinas, lalo na sa kanayunan, ang pinakapangunahing ugat ay yung kawalan ng lupa (If we are going to assess the root of poverty in the Philippines, one of the primary reasons is having no access to lands).” – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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