Pass the CARPER Bill Now!

Statement of the UP Law Student Government Executive Board:

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

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