Although arguably inappropriate, it was very understandable for farmers to have exploded into an almost-riot last night at the House of Representatives, following the failure of the Lower House to extend the life of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Instead, it had approved a resolution extending up to December the law’s land acquisition and distribution component.
But then, what can a mere resolution do? It is not expected to have any teeth, despite the reassurances of House Speaker Prospero Nograles. It is also not expected to have teeth considering how the situation could be taken advantage of by some landowners wishing to evade the law. And they could so by next week.
Needless to say, if the government is truly serious about the CARP, then it should not waste a single moment, and should hold special sessions if it needs to. President Arroyo has certified the extension as urgent, and yet her colleagues in Congress don’t seem to be acting with enough urgency. But as farmers groups and experts themselves say, what can the public expect from trapos who are big landowners themselves? Not to mention allegations that the First Family itself stands to benefit from the CARP’s non extension.
It is also strange that Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman did not do his homework, following his failure to account for the expenses for CARP. After all, Pangandaman himself has been talking about CARP extension for over a year now.
Well, whether the President likes it or likes it a lot, it is she again who will be at the receiving end of the blame should the administration fails in extending the CARP.
This should be doubly tragic for the President herself. After all, it was her father, the President Diosdado Macapagal who first implemented Land Reform in the 60’s. Is his daughter about to erase such legacy as well before she ends her term in 2010?