Nograles asks GMA to fire Pangandaman

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SPEAKER Prospero “Boy” Nograles Jr. yesterday asked President Gloria Malacagal-Arroyo to fire Agrarian Reform Sec. Nasser Pangandaman from her Cabinet.

An irate Nograles made his call after Pangandaman wrote President Arroyo to veto the joint congressional resolution No. 19 extending Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for six months or until June 30, 2009 where the compulsory acquisition of land has been suspended.

Nograles, one of the principal authors of the joint resolution, reiterated his commitment to work for a genuine and responsive new CARP law in the next six months.

“President Arroyo should veto the DAR secretary himself,” Nograles told People’s Tonight. When clarified if he was asking for the head of Pangandaman, he replied: “Yes.”

Before Congress went on a month-long Christmas break last December 19, the House of Representatives adopted the joint resolution through 111 against 34 voting and one abstention.

But Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo were united in supporting Pangandaman’s call for President Arroyo to veto the joint resolution, saying the heart of CARP has been robbed when lawmakers made land distribution optional.

“She (President Arroyo) should really veto the joint resolution because it is unconstitutional and illegal without compulsory acquisition. Additionally, Akbayan calls on PGMA to voluntarily submit the Arroyo lands in Negros Occidental to CARP coverage and to compel her allies in Congress to pass the CARP extension with reforms bill,” said Hontiveros.

For his part, Ocampo said: “Tama si Sec. Pangandaman, na ang pagtanggal sa compulsory land acquisition sa joint resolution ay kumitil sa diwa ng agrarian reform. Walang silbi ang joint resolution sa mga magbubukid.”

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said nothing will change even if President Arroyo would not sign the joint resolution unless she orders her allies in Congress to pass a genuine law on CARP.

“A GMA veto on joint resolution will not in any way save the anti-peasant Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, but Arroyo and her government exposed as pro-landlord and having no political will on land reform,” said Mariano.

Earlier, Hontiveros accused the group of Ocampo which includes militant Anakpawis and Gabriela party-list groups of strongly lobbying for the dismissal of the five-year CARP extension.

Ocampo’s group is pushing for a Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and against simply extending the present law for the next five years as supported by Hontiveros.