Now I know what power is.
For the past year or so, we have been working steadily on getting the CARP Extension with Reforms Bill passed. As early as two years ago, we agrarian reform advocatres were already coming together for meetings to discuss the substantial features of the Bill that was supposed to extend funding for CARP after it expires in December of this year, and incorporate reforms that would be, for once, true articulations of the problems on the ground. Personally, I remember my special lobby for the provision that would prevent the criminalization of agrarian reform cases, a nod to my friends in Bondoc Peninsula.
I can’t remember the number of meetings we’ve had, the long hours we spent making sure that each line in the bill was written perfectly, the consultations we’ve had to make sure that we involve farmers in the process of crafting, the months we spent lobbying and watching developments in Congress and Senate, the materials we churned out and the studies we made to prove that small farms are viable, that compulsory acquisition is most effective in poverty reduction, etc etc, the efforts we took to bring the farmers from the provinces to the capital so that their voices may be heard.
All because we were foolish enough to believe that faith and hard work were all it took to make a difference.
On December 17, 2008, we were proven wrong. All our efforts were razed to the ground by a Congress and a Senate that decided to kill Agrarian Reform by removing Compulsory Acquisition. This is not a mere inclusion of an anti-farmer amendment, or an exemption of certain types of land, this is wholesale murder. Without Compulsory Acquisition, Agrarian Reform is nothing. Anyone who thinks that the landowners in Negros, where the undistributed lands are, would give up their lands voluntarily has got to be severely delusional.
And as Satur and the Bayan Muna/Anakpawis/Gabriela consortium continue to take the moral high ground, it must be made known that they were complicit in killing CARP. How dare they now complain over the newspapers that Mikey Arroyo killed CARP, when they were part of that murder? Ask any farmer who was there in Congress from December 15-17 and who stood outside the gates. Ask them about the Bayan Muna rallyists bearing “IBASURA ANG CARP” placards, screaming their heads off at the farmers and bishops on Hunger Strike. Why were the “NO TO CARP” hakot crowd able to enter the gallery? Because their entry was supposedly facilitated by CONGRESSMAN FERRER (known landowner congressman) and the offices of the Bayan Muna/Gabriela/Anakpawis gang.
The plain and simple truth is that every single step of the way, on the issue of CARP, the Arroyos of Negros, Pampanga and Bicol; landowners Garcia, Villafuerte, Maranon and Ferrer, as well as so-called Leftists Ocampo, Maza, Ilagan, Casino, Mariano VOTED AGAINST THE EXTENSION OF THE COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM.
I cried immediately after the voting ended around 12mn on December 17, my chest hurting just thinking about all our areas without notices of coverage yet, and all our farmers who were no longer to benefit from Agrarian Reform. At 2am, I got a text from MeAnne from Focus, the horrible implications had sunk in her two hours after the fact. In the coming days, other agrarian reform advocates would find themselves in tears, realizing that without a doubt, agrarian reform is dead. Felled by the powerful and the rich.
On Wednesday, December 17, our good Senators and Congressmen have managed to decimate an entire class. Such power indeed.