Poor peasants need radical change, free distribution of land bannered by GARB, not the misnomer CARP 2nd phase – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – Former lawmaker for Anakpawis Party-list Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao joined peasant activists under the Kilusang Magbubukid at a protest in front of the House of Representatives, hours before the scheduled hearing of the House Bill 239 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan Coalition. He asserted that amid the chronic economic and social crises, poor peasants in the country need radical change in agrarian reform policy, especially the provision for free distribution of land as bannered by the said bill. He slammed the House Bill 5507 dubbed as “2nd phase of CARP” as misnomer, as obviously it was only referring to extend implementation of Republic Act 6657 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s (CARP) land coverage of the balance from the working scope, which was a clear result of the program’s bankruptcy and failure.
“CARP has been implemented more than 30 years and it was proven as bankrupt and a bloody and costly failure for poor peasants. To still consider extending this kind of law, instead of totally replacing it with a radical and genuine one, violates the very capacity of human beings, to think with logical reasoning and to learn from past mistakes,” he said in a press statement.
He added that CARP is plain instrument of big hacienderos and agro-corporations to preserve their control over vast tracts of land.
“The Philippines is like one big hacienda. Going out of urban centers is like time travelling to the feudal Spanish era, as hacienderos still exist, lands are still without irrigation, carabaos are still being used, and the only thing missing is for the poor peasants to dress up like in the 19th century and for the landowner to hold a whip. It is already the age of information, but we are so far left behind by other developed countries, all because past and present regimes refuse to realize genuine agrarian reform,” he added.
He said that GARB will trigger rural development and eventual national development, as opposed to the rural economy being dominated by big landowners and traders.
“If the tens of millions of peasants in the country are truly emancipated with the enactment of GARB, small-and-medium enterprises will benefit from the ample supply of raw materials, and eventually, mass unemployment will be eradicated in the rural and urban centers, the poor’s purchasing power will improve, to lead increased sales of businesses, and more. Ultimately, it will push the national economy up and concretize genuine national development,” he elaborated.
He added on the other hand, to keep the majority of the population poor, engrossed with landlessness and neglect, automatically, the whole Filipino population will be considered as poor.
“If this congress intends to stiff up its anti-peasant and haciendero character and thumbs down GARB, it should blame itself as main contributor to the swelling skepticism of poor peasants against the government and its policies. As how intensified they opposed CARP for decades and took the matter into their own hands by directly occupying and tilling lands through ‘bungkalan’ campaigns, it will be double, triple or even quadruple in the future. By that time, neglected poor peasants might declare agrarian reform officials as ‘persona non-grata’ at their bungkalan sites,” he warned.
Finally, as CARP incorporated private property of the rich landlord class as its declared policies, GARB upholds social justice and recognizes that poor peasants have long ago redeemed the lands to their owners and free distribution of land is just and urgent.
“GARB is for the poor peasants and national interest of the Filipino people, while CARP favored the landlord, comprador classes and foreign monopoly. The camp pushing for GARB puts the national and democratic welfare of the country at the front, while proponents of CARP are mere lackeys of the ruling classes,” he ended. ###