Monday, April 21, 2008

Government Insincerity In The Midst Of A Crisis

While long queues of people line up to get their daily ration of NFA rice, somewhere in the south of Manila, fate of farmers hang in the balance. As the saga of the Sumilao farmers end, a new battle looms in the horizon. This time around, farmers of Calatagan, Batangas are about to lose their lands. These lands that they have toiled on and have paid fully are now about to be turned into mines. So it seems that it becomes more and more apparent that this administration lacks political will, even becoming hatchet men of the rich. While there are calls for a stop to land conversion, those that are under dispute are not covered by this call.

The case of the Calatagan farmers stemmed from an unlawful order backed by an antiquated report by both the Dept. of Agrarian Reform and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources. Food security has been abandoned in the name of environmental destruction. The Dept. of Agrarian Reform has time and again taken the side of the rich than do what is mandated by law. The DAR is supposed to address social justice and not pure injustice. Perhaps those who crafted the CARP never intended to address the plight of the poor. Provisions were inserted that weakened and undermined the true essence land reform and social justice.

The gravity of the implications of the Calatagan case cannot be denied. This is a human rights violation in its purest form. Some thirty-six farmers joined the Sumilao farmers in their walk last year, this time around, they started their own march for justice. Lakbay-Kalampag para sa Lupang Sakahan, Hindi Minahan hope to finally end the ten years of uncertainty which gripped the beneficiaries of the land dispute in Calatagan. Self determination and equal opportunity is what the agrarian reform is supposed to achieve. It is high time the government do what is morally and humanely just.

This time around, the issue is closer to the seat of power. The issue of food security must be our priority now more than ever. A progressive country relies on food to harness development and progress. Unless we set our priorities right, we may end up like the country of Nauru, mining is about to drive them into extinction. Please visit CALATAGAN MARCH for the background of the case. I hope that those who fought for the Sumilao cause will again join me and show their support for the hapless farmers of Calatagan. "We are after all our brothers' keepers."


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