Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Landed Congress

Gloria is a lame duck. Her recent acts proves this as she has gone a populist blitz. To appease the Catholic Church and to make it appear that she cares for the masses, she ordered congress to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The CARP was crafted to address the plight of the suffering farmers and to push for social justice. It is a known fact that majority of congress are landlords. CARP goes against their interests.

To assure that their interests will be protected, there are provisions in the CARP that could be used to circumvent the law, thereby assuring these landlords that can still keep their lands. The Dept. of Agrarian Reform through the years have protected the big landlords. The DAR distribute lands, they went after the small landowners first, then distributed public lands while allowing the big landlords to convert their lands to avoid the CARP.

Twenty years since its implementation, the farmers continue to suffer. With the food crisis upon us, the failure of the CARP is more evident. The lower house with its powerful Negros block was able to force a deadlock. The case of the Sumilao and Calatagan farmers exposed the weakness of the CARP law. These are the only prominent cases with dozens more unexposed to the public's eye. Groups are now at loggerheads as they push for different advocacies. Some are opting for the CARP's extension while some want reforms with extension. This has created rifts between advocates which has led to accusations being hurled.

The main issue here is social justice. Regardless whatever means the CARP should be extended, one thing is clear, the house with its landed members will never allow an honest to goodness agrarian reform. Gloria was giving lip service to the farmers when she asked her allies to pass the CARP's extension. Her husband's family are landlords too and has managed to evade the CARP. The NPC headed by one of the biggest landlords, Danding Cojuangco will fight tooth and nail to prevent the extension of the CARP. Cojuangco owns San Miguel and thousands of hectares of land. To keeps his land, he opted to implement a stock option scheme. His cousin Peping controls the Hacienda Luisita which was the scene of a bloody confrontation between the military and farmers. Both are very close allies of GMA.

Social justice will continue to be an elusive dream for our hapless farmers. While we continue to allow landlords to control the legislative, genuine agrarian reform will never be implemented. Unless our legislators have a reexamination of conscience, no law which would bridge the social gap will ever be passed. In our country, the tyranny of the minority rules while the majority gasps for air and fights among themselves for the little scraps thrown to them by the powers that be.