For many people December signifies a month of celebration, of joyous family gatherings and looking forward to seemingly bright futures. But for many farmers all over the country, December signifies uncertainty over the future of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Time is of essence what with two more session days to go for the year. If no action is taken over the pending bills which not only extend the funding for CARP (CARPER Bills), but also institute some much-needed reforms, agrarian reform in our country will be left in limbo, it’s status uncertain and its to-be beneficiaries left hanging.
Yesterday, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabilo and at least twenty farmer-leaders began an indefinite hunger strike. While we support such sacrifice, we cannot help but wonder why such means have to be undertaken in order to show that they are willing to undergo great hardships in order that the CARPER bill be passed. We are deeply saddened by the fact that in order to grab the attention of our leaders, farmers from all over the country have had to march hundreds and even thousands of miles and undergone many hardships and challenges en route to Manila. To our mind, the benefits of the Agrarian Reform Program should accrue to the farmers as a MATTER OF RIGHT, yet, they have to go through great lengths to claim such rights? There’s something very wrong and disturbing about that.
We believe that Agrarian Reform need not be complicated nor cloaked in technicalities. It is a Constitutional mandate which has at its heart social justice. The government does not have an option to institute and implement such a program nor does the Congress have the privilege to pass a related law based on its whims and caprices. It is a DUTY and as such, UNTIL the ends of social justice have been met, it is incumbent upon both our lawmakers to pass laws which will enable the agrarian reform program to continue and the executive branch to ensure that such program is properly, effectively, and equitably implemented.
Justice Jose P. Laurel so aptly and eloquently defined social justice in the case Calalang vs. Williams [70 Phil. 726 (1940)] as being neither communism, nor despotism, nor atomism, nor anarchy, but the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated. Social justice means the promotion of the welfare of all the people, the adoption by the Government of measures calculated to ensure economic stability of all the component elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the interrelations of the members of the community, constitutionally, through the adoption of measures legally justifiable, or extra-constitutiona lly, through the exercise of powers underlying the existence of all governments on the time-honored principle of salus populi est supremo lex. We believe that an Agrarian Reform Program is one such concrete measure to attain the ‘equalization of social and economic forces so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated.”
The Philippines’ has had an Agrarian Reform Program for the past twenty years and while some have benefited from it, many more have yet to reap the benefits it promises. It cannot be left on a standstill at this crucial point in time, it must go on, albeit with much-needed reforms so that the ends of social justice may be met.
We are one with the various groups as we call on our Congress to utilize the last two session days wisely and pass into law HB 4077 and SB 2666 which precisely extend CARP and introduce reforms to the said Program. We challenge those Members of Congress who heretofore remain undecided as to which position to take to think of social justice, of equity, of the plight of the Filipino farmer who has tilled land which he does not own to decide in favor of CARPER. To take no action at this crucial juncture would be fatal to the cause of agrarian reform as the means to attaining social justice and equity. Let us not stand as uninterested spectators but rather, let us be in solidarity with the Filipino farmer and take action. We say that delay will only be inimical and there is no other option but CARPER NOW!
- UP Law Student Government Executive Board 2008-2009
Two years ago, members of the Lower House floated around the idea of amending the Charter. Facing opposition from the Senate, the House gave the Senators three days to agree to a constitutional convention, failing which they would pursue charter change without the participation of the Senate, through a constituent assembly.
Two years ago, people outraged by the Lower House’s disregard for the bicameral nature of Congress assembled in mass protest actions. Eventually, Congress shelved its ill-conceived plans of hastily amending the Constitution.
Two years ago, the UP Law Student Government issued a statement calling the maneuvers of the Congressmen then as “an obvious and grave abuse of power and discretion.”
It is unfortunate that we find ourselves having to do the same thing today, to call on our leaders who never seem to understand that so long as the initiative to amend the Constitution is in blatant disregard of the text and spirit of the fundamental law of the land, and so long as the initiative is to be carried out by people who suffer under an obvious conflict of interest, their calls for cha-cha will always remain suspect.
We, the undersigned students of the University of the Philippines College of Law, denounce the recent moves by our lawmakers in the Lower House to amend the Constitution without the participation of the Upper House, and without the participation of the people.
We are not against the idea of amending the Constitution; perhaps, there really are governmental and policy reforms that warrant the reworking of our Charter.
But we are against the idea of railroading the amendments process and disregarding the very nature of bicameralism. The 1987 Constitution may not speak of the manner by which amendments to the constitution are to be voted upon—that is, whether it is to be voted by all the members of Congress jointly or separately. But this omission does not mean that the framers intended for Congress to vote jointly. If anything, the omission was a mere human oversight, because at the time the 1987 Constitution was being drafted, the original proposal referred to a unicameral Congress similar to that in the 1973 Constitution. Since we ended up with a bicameral legislature, it is but reasonable to say that the general rule for the manner of voting is to vote separately. If laws are passed by the lower and upper Houses separately, why should the process of amending our fundamental law be any different?
We are against the idea of amending the Charter before the 2010 elections, by the very people who stand to directly benefit from it. It is to be noted that several proposals among the 30 cha-cha-related resolutions filed in the 14th Congress call for a shift from a republican to a federal government. Such a change in our political structure would naturally entail talks about term limits, term extensions, and qualifications—matters that we cannot leave to a con-ass that suffers from a conflict of interest. Any amendment to our fundamental law will have far-reaching consequences; thus, the need for our lawmakers and the people to deliberate upon them. There is a venue where proposed amendments may be intelligently discussed and debated, without the trappings of vested political interests. Unfortunately, we do not see the con-ass being championed by administration allies as that kind of venue. Two years ago, the public showed its distrust of this administration spearheading any form of charter change. From 2006 and 2008, nothing has happened to significantly increase public trust in it; in fact, after the numerous scandals and human rights violations that have surfaced since 2006, people’s trust in this administration has plunged even further.
We call on the President to ask her allies to stop any and all attempts to change the charter before the 2010 national elections. It is not enough for Malacañang to deny that it had a hand in the maneuverings of its allies in Congress; being their titular head, PGMA is in the position to stop them if she were really so inclined. We remind her of what she said two years ago, that “Philippine democracy will always find the proper time and opportunity for Charter reform at a time when the people deem it ripe and needful, and in the manner they deem proper.”
We call on our elected leaders to be more circumspect in their actions; to consider, instead, urgent issues that need to be addressed before they adjourn this year: the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program; the Reproductive Health Bill; the Access to Information Bill; the rising incidences of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and harassment of lawyers, activists, peasants and journalists; among others.
We call on our fellow law students and students from other colleges to be vigilant about attempts to undermine the rule of law. Study the issues. Talk to your friends and families about cha-cha. Be involved in actions to safeguard the integrity of our Constitution and its processes. The Constitution may not be perfect, but for now it remains to be the law. To quote our predecessors, “Let us not get caught in the tragedy of being a law student who studies the law in a vacuum and remains in the dark in the midst of surrounding political turmoil. Let us grab this chance to learn the law not just inside Malcolm Hall but to learn it in spite of Malcolm Hall.”
More than that, let us be involved precisely because we are students of Malcolm Hall.
- The Executive Board, UP Law Student Government 2008-2009
Michael Jobert I. Navallo
Alessandra Maria Anna Gloria O. Reyes
Bernice C. Mendoza
Janette T. Lim
Aaron Jarveen O. Ho
Public Relations Officer
Sophia Monica V. San Luis
in cooperation with the Office of the Dean
invites you to
CARP Beyond 2008?
A Forum on the Future of Philippine Agrarian Reform
on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 (International Human Rights Day)
at the Sarmiento Room from 12nn-3PM
*snacks will be served
a Forum on the Future of Philippine Agrarian Reform
It’s quite simple: the land belongs to the farmer and the farmer to the land. This inextricable bond between the farmer and the land he tills is at the heart of the issue of Agrarian Reform. Blood, sweat, and tears have been given up in the farmers’ long drawn out fight for genuine agrarian reform.
Twenty years after Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was enacted, there is once again a clamor not just for Agrarian Reform, but for the extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Twenty years have passed and while the objectives of the CARP are honorable and seek to distribute land and effectively redistribute wealth, much has yet to be done given the less than universal and consistent implementation of the law, lack of political will, and the great number of farmers who are yet to reap the benefits of this program.
Twenty years has passed and still, farmers have gone to great lengths to fully claim the land which is rightfully theirs. It was only last year that the Sumilao Farmers walked 1,700 kilometers from Bukidnon to Manila. This year, many farmers’ groups have followed (literally) in their footsteps -- The Banasi Farmers walked more than 400 kilometers, the Calatagan Farmers, among others. There are farmers who are in the twilight of their lives yet have marched hundreds of kilometers not so much for themselves, but for their grandchildren whom they believe can have a better future.
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform is, in theory very promising and revolutionary. The CARP implements the Constitutional blueprint for national development. It is a poverty-alleviation measure that seeks to transform agrarian reform beneficiaries into more productive members of society who can use the land to generate more income for their families. As a major social justice program, the CARP seeks to address the problem of inequitable distribution of land. However, if genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform is truly the end goal, much has yet to be done.
The forum seeks to give an overview of the CARP over the past twenty years as well as the pending reform measures in Congress. It will also be a venue to exchange ideas and insights so as to give a more in-depth understanding of Agrarian Reform in our country.
Speaker: Prof. Rowena Guanzon
When: December 8, 2008, 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Malcolm Theater, UP Law
Brought to you by the Office of the Dean, UP Delta Lambda Sigma Sorority, UP Portia Sorority, UP Women in Law, UP Paralegal Volunteers Organization and the UP Law Student Government
Corruptionary: A Cultural Innovation for Good Governance
NATIONAL STUDY CONFERENCE
When: December 8 & 9, 2008
Where: University Hotel, UP Diliman
Brought to you by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
CenPEG is inviting all interested law students to attend a 2-day conference / festival of sorts on CORRUPTION. This is in line with the recent release of the first dictionary on corruption-related words, the Corruptionary.
Notably, Professors Vicky Avena and Harry Roque are speakers in this Conference.
Prof. Avena will be the resource person in "The Rule of Law and Corruptionary", Monday, December 8, 1pm to 230pm.
Prof. Roque will be the speaker in the Workshop on "A Program on the Rule of Law against Corruption", December 9, 1030am to 1230pm.
All these will be held in the University Hotel. Do Come. :)
USC Karolfest 2008
UP Charivari, the Official Chorale of the College of Law, will be competing against other college-based chorales in UP during the annual university carolfest this TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2008, 5:00pm at the UP Theater.
Charivari will be rendering 3 Filipino Christmas songs all composed by UP Alumni.
Admission is FREE! Come and support your friends as the sing for UP Law! God Bless Charivari!
Erwin Arandia (Conductor)
CARP Beyond 2008?
CARP Beyond 2008? Different Perspectives on the Future of the Philippine Agrarian Reform Program
When: December 10, 2008, Wednesday, 12nn to 3pm
Where: Sarmiento Room
When: December 11, 2008, 1:00 to 5:00pm (NO CLASSES - to be confirmed with the OCS)
Where: UP School of Economics Auditorium
Brought to you by the USC.
The USC encourages all iskolar ng bayan to attend the Univesity Convocation this Thursday, December 11 at the School of Economics Auditorium, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. The USC has asked Chancellor Cao to suspend classes Thursday afternoon to encourage students to take part and be involved in the assembly.
To be discussed are important campus issues, from updates on the campaigns for Student Demands (regarding free use of university facilities, dormitory issues, lab fee increases, etc.) to the crucial Student Regent Selection Process Referendum. Resolutions will also be drafted regarding the aforementioned issues. All UP Students are strongly encouraged to take part in these crucial endeavors.
University Wide Anti Cha-Cha Vigil
When: December 11, 2008, Thursday, 6:00pm onwards
Where: Academic Oval
Brought to you by the Office of the Dean and the UP Law Student Government
No to CHA-CHA before 2010!
When: December 12, 2008, Friday, afternoon
Where: Ayala, Makati
UP Law Class of 83 Pakain
When: December 13, 2008, 11:30am to 1pm
Where: Malcolm Hall Lobby
Watch out for four major raffle prizes (32-inch Philips LCD) and lots of minor prizes!
MALCOLM MADNESS 2008: Law School Musical
When: December 13, 2008, 6pm onwards
Where: Malcolm Theater, UP Law