Posted by: Jae | December 21, 2008

Power

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.


Responses

  1. i read about the decision in a newspaper on december 18 on my way back to manila. truly saddening. i’ve been disappointed by our legislators countless of times already but not as distressing and dampening as this one, an issue which i thought should be a clear road forward, apparently not naive self.😦

  2. This doesn’t end here.🙂

  3. I guess you’ve read it before, still i want you to read again this speech by a Native American Chief named Seattle found on this link:
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Chief_Seattle%27s_Speech

    here’s an excerpt:
    “Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hill-side, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe. Even the rocks that seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent seashore in solemn grandeur thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people, and the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred.”

    God bless and have a blessed Christmas!

  4. well, it sounds to me like ‘compulsory acquisition’ is in fact using the police power of government to seize wealth from the unfavored and give it to the favored, at the point of a gun. i recall that robert mugabe also had a land redistribution plan to seize land from landowners (read: white farmers) in zimbabwe. forced land redistribution is not an act of a capitalist, democratic government. as such, compulsory acquisition does sound like it would be unconstitutional.

    freedom means little without property rights. what good is your freedom to use your talents and your willingness to work hard to acquire wealth if your rights to that wealth can be denied at the whim of a few politicians? the Philippines is already suffering from a mass exodus from the country of its most talented individuals; dissolution of property rights wont help the situation. if one private individual wants to own a certain piece of property, but the legal owner of that piece of property doesn’t want to sell it, the private property rights of the owner of the real estate should be recognized, and the person trying to buy the property should back off. that, my friends, should be the end of the story.

    yes, i understand that ‘compulsory acquisition’ is supposed to be for the common good. but it also does not respect rule of law. it does not seem to have a place in a capitalist, democratic society. it is an idea that is either marxist, or despotic. or both. a proponent (Edcel Lagman) said: “it is regrettable that the consensus in the House of Representatives … is to limit the land acquisition to the volition and discretion of landowners.” (source: balita.ph) that sums up the case perfectly, doesnt it? it’s ‘regrettable’ that we still have ‘volition’ and ‘discretion’ over property that we legally own.

  5. chrisgel – i knew it was not going to be a clear road forward, but i didnt think they would be so brazen. i guess were both naive.😦

    dianne – naman! “when promises are broken, movements are created.” i forget na the source of that quote, just got it from danny, but it seems so apt for this juncture.

    brother utoy – sa excerpt pa lang, naiyak na ako. yes, the land is in their blood, it is woven into their soul. to think that they no longer have a chance of owning that land is an injustice of ghastly proportions. merry christmas po sa inyo..

    dan – well, our politics are different and i dont think the twain shall e’er meet.🙂 wishing you and your family a blessed christmas.

  6. this isn’t about politics. it’s about rule of law. the overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted against the bill for a reason. evidently youre missing the point: this is not about power, privilege, and the rich, as you would have us believe. this is about centuries of established contract law and property rights.

    when you look at it this way, lawmakers voting against the bill was a slam dunk. yes, i know i am wasting my time writing this to you. however, as a friend i think i should tell you this.

    you should have known this. you went to law school. you know what the laws of the land are. you know what property rights are, and you know what contract law is. yet you campaigned tirelessly to abrogate these basic principles.

    and to top it all off, you act surprised when the efforts failed. you said you cried when you heard the decision. i can only imagine the countless hours you spent on this project. however, evidently you are so wrapped up in your own little world that you could not see flaws for what they were, and how the flaws made the bill a non-starter. i am not disparaging your cause. however, it appears that you are not choosing your battles wisely. you should ask yourself why that is.

    really, this would be comical if it weren’t tragic.

  7. well, in that case, if what you say is true, affirmative action is against the rule of law. progressive taxation is against the rule of law. what you seem to ignore is that there IS such a thing as a rule of law informed by the principles of social justice. it seeks to incorporate corrective measures to right historical wrongs. many would say that that is part of the rule of law, too, as much as property rights and contract law.

    it may not be part of the REPUBLICAN rule of law, but last i heard, the republican rule of law does not govern the world (and thankfully, it will no longer govern America🙂 ).

    moreover, agrarian reform is not a philippine invention. it has been tried in countries like japan and south korea. it’s not something i made up in “my own little world” or some quaint marxist notion with no place in the “real world.”

    really, these debates are exercises in futility. we are on opposite ends of the political fence. there is nothing you can say to convince me, and if anything, they only make me more certain of my positions.

    wishing you all the best in life. merry christmas.

  8. “it may not be part of the REPUBLICAN rule of law, but last i heard, the republican rule of law does not govern the world (and thankfully, it will no longer govern America🙂 ).”

    ..AMEN.

  9. hey, i was only trying to help. you can say all you want about us being on the opposite sides of the political fence, but this isnt about politics. youre not hearing me. youre going to have to work within the system as it exists. youre not doing that. that is my point. that is what i meant about choosing your battles.

    it doesnt matter whether something should be true, or if you want something to be true. just because you want something to be true or should be true does not make it so.

  10. Dyingculture:

    I gather that you seem to be working from the notion that Jae was working on a new bill proposing compulsory acquisition. She was not.

    Compulsory Acquisition has been part and parcel of the Agrarian Reform Law instituted since 1988. The said Republic Act is based on nothing less than the Philippine Constitution itself wherein the state “shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof”. To say that it is unconstitutional would result in the absurd situation of calling the constitution unconstitutional, which I doubt is what you were trying to say. What I am trying to make you see here, however, is that compulsory acquisition was the system, AS IT EXISTED.

    The recent battle was one wherein advocates (such as Jae) were fighting for and within the system that existed for the simple reason that the system was not yet finished with the task it had undertaken for itself 20 years ago. The bill revolved around an extension of compulsory acquisition, not an introduction of it. Reforms were introduced in the extension bill, but compulsory acquisition was already a functioning component of the Agrarian Reform Program long before the extension bill was even proposed. If the law or the system has been altered, this was done through the decision of Congress to yes, extend the Agrarian Reform Program, but end compulsory acquisition, which basically renders futile the extension of the Agrarian Reform Program.

    As for property rights, such have always been subject to the state’s right of eminent domain. Private property can be confiscated by the state, subject to just compensation, when public emergency or welfare necessitates it. I believe this applies not only in the Philippines but in all other democratic countries as well. Private lands can be taken to give way to necessary public infrastructure, albeit respect for private property rights require that this be done only where there is no alternative option available to the state. Agricultural land is limited, but there are millions of farmers who are yet landless and who require tillable land to live on and live from. In a case wherein acres of such lands are owned by a select few who refuse to voluntarily redistribute them to the farmers who have actually been working on the said lands, is the state not placed in a position wherein its right to eminent domain must be exercised in order to fulfill its constitutional mandate to undertake agricultural land redistribution?

    I suppose you could say that the farmers can be taught other skills in order to become less dependent on land for their livelihoods. In that way, their lives and their futures would not be attached to the land they till and which they hope to own. I hope, however, that you are not as brazenly naive as to believe that education would be a simpler solution.

  11. “you should have known this. you went to law school. you know what the laws of the land are. you know what property rights are, and you know what contract law is. yet you campaigned tirelessly to abrogate these basic principles.”

    huwaw.

    I guess the law school curriculum, at least at UP, should be changed, huh? Last I looked agrarian reform law is still being taught there, and I don’t remember any prof saying it was contrary to the laws of the land. I wonder how the prof would react if I proposed such a novel and profoundly radical idea during class one day.

    I guess dyingculture should teach. At UP. Show us the light.

    Tsk, Jae! I know you as a “despot…” but I’ve always thought your transgressions “cute.” That you’ve campaigned tirelessly to abrogate basic principles of law????? I guess I never knew you…
    🙂

  12. Hmm… perhaps the bayan muna people and other leftist elements are the protectors of these landlords via revolutionary tax. And yes they have to protect them milking cows harhar

    I have to agree It really doesn’t end here.

    It ends when we make an example of GMA.


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