The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] is affirming its commitment to support Filipino farmers through the holding of the Second National Rural Congress [NRC II], but a battle ground between pro and anti CARP advocates appears to have emerged in the process.
BY ABNER BOLOS
Gitnang Luson News Service
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 1, February 3-9, 2008
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is affirming its commitment to support Filipino farmers through the holding of the Second National Rural Congress (NRC II), but a battle ground between pro and anti CARP advocates appears to have emerged in the process.
The regional consultation in preparation for NRC II for Central Luzon was held at the Social Action Center in San Fernando, Pampanga last Jan. 31 attended by more than 100 delegates from Bataan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales and Nueva Ecija. Fourteen regional consultations nationwide will be held in preparation for NRC II, which will be held in Manila in July this year.
While the consultations primarily aim to “identify urgent national and local issues confronting the rural poor,” workshops and plenary discussions often turn into arguments between advocates of the extension of CARP and those wanting to repeal the law and legislate a new land reform law.
Delegates to the Central Luzon consultation were divided into five sectoral groups: farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, women and labor. The workshop groups easily reach agreements on general issues such as landlessness, poverty and the need to improve the plight of rural communities, but the delegates are unyielding in their respective pro or anti CARP positions.
The division extends into the selection of the ten regional delegates to the NRC II. The militant Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Central Luzon Peasant Alliance) and its allied organizations was able to muster six of the ten seats to NRC II after a heated debate on organizational representation. AMGL stands for the revocation of CARP and for the passage of House Bill 3059 or the “genuine agrarian reform bill.”
The same trend was observed in regional consultations held last month is Southern Tagalog and Northern Luzon and is expected to characterize other consultations in the rest of the country.
The consultations are being conducted by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership (PMP), the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) and the Rural Poor Solidarity (RPS) in behalf of the CBCP.
The organizers appear to have foreseen the opposing views by issuing guidelines that stated, among others, that “irreconcilable, opposing and conflicting opinions and views need not be resolved and must be presented separately and concurrently.”
The workshop results from the regions will be consolidated and presented to the NRC II for adoption and will be made the basis for future programs of the CBCP in support of the rural poor. One hundred bishops and 100 delegates are expected to attend NRC II.
Parallel diocesan consultations among the basic ecclesial communitities in rural development are also being held in 80 dioceses and 3,000 parishes all over the country by the National Secretariat for Social Action, the Episcopal Commission for Indigenous Peoples and the offices of the basic ecclesial communities.
The first rural congress was convened by the CBCP in 1967. In January 2007, the bishops issued a pastoral statement entitled “The dignity of the Rural Poor – A Gospel Concern” which paved the way for the launching of NRC II. Gitnang Luson News Service / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)