Rough Sailing Expected for Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill

Land ownership

Mariano said that under the GARB, farmer beneficiaries cannot sell the land they would acquire.

He said this prohibition aims to protect farmers. “We want to remove all factors that would lead to the re-concentration of land to the landlords.”

Mariano said some groups have assailed Anakpawis because the GARB, which it promotes, does not award full ownership of land to the farmers.

Mariano said, “The attributes of land ownership are there. If you remove the land rent and the amortization, farmers would enjoy the full benefits of their produce. Under CARP, the CLOA may be taken back if the farmers fail to pay the amortization.”

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Rough sailing

Mariano admitted that the struggle for the enactment of GARB is encountering rough sailing.

He said further, “Hindi ba kayo takot na matalo? Pwedeng segundaryo na iyon. Bakit si Chief Justice Puno hindi siya takot na nasa minorya siya kahit ang posisyon niya ay posisyon ng malawak na masa, ung sa Neri petition. Tayo pa rito, talagang minoryang minorya ang progressive party list representatives.” (Are we not afraid to lose? That is secondary. Even the Chief Justice was not afraid to take the minority position in the Supreme Court when he took the position of the broad masses in the petition filed by Romulo Neri.)

It would be remembered that the Supreme Court upheld the right of former National Economic Development Authority Executive Director Romulo Neri to invoke executive privilege in refusing to answer questions by the Senate regarding his conversations with President Arroyo regarding the National Broadband Network contract with ZTE of China. During the deliberations on the petition by Neri in the High Court, Chief Justice Reynato Puno voted with the minority and issued a dissenting opinion.

Mariano said many anti-people bills filed at the Lower House have been delayed due to the people’s strong opposition.

“Kung may isang tunay na reporma sa lupa na nakapanukala, hindi agad magagawa ng landowners na ibasura basta-basta iyon ng walang substanyal na debate. At Yung debate na iyon ang pwedeng maglagay uli sa pambansang adyenda talaga ng pangangailangan sa isang tunay na repormang sa lupa,” ( The landlords in Congress could not summarily trash even a genuine agrarian reform bill without substantial debate. The ensuing debate could put the need for a genuine agrarian reform program in the national agenda.) he said.

He said the Congress must now start with the debate on HB 3059. If 1/5 of the members of the Committee [on Agriculture] votes for the bill, then the committee must report this to the plenary. If the chairman of the committee cannot sponsor the bill, Mariano said, he or she could let the authors defend the GARB.

Mariano said, “We are willing to answer all questions during the interpellation. We will not do what they did to us last December.” Mariano was referring to the refusal of the House leadership to accommodate his questions during the deliberation of Joint Resolution No. 19, prompting him and the other members of the progressive party-list bloc to walk out of the session hall. “They denied me my duty to speak as a representative of the peasants.”

Mariano said the primary factor in the deliberation of the GARB is the strong mass campaign for a genuine, thoroughgoing land reform program.

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