PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MILITANT lawmakers yesterday said they were not optimistic that Congress will be able to pass a genuine Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) law in six months.
In separate interviews, Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros said it is improper for lawmakers to give farmers false hope after Congress adopted joint congressional Resolution 19 where the compulsory land acquisition has been suspended.
“That is a big question considering the majority stand of the representatives versus compulsory land acquisition. It may be hard to push genuine agrarian reform bill in the next six months,” Ocampo told People’s Tonight.
But Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles Jr., 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.
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.
It extends Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for six months or until June 30, 2009 but without compulsory land acquisition.
However, Hontiveros explained that Congress should have used the last six months of 2008 in deliberating a genuine CARP law if it is indeed sincere in uplifting the plight of the farmers.
“I am less confident that Congress will be able to pass the CARP bill in the next six months because it already removed compulsory acquisition of land in the joint resolution and it could have studied the bill if it had wanted to in the last six months,” said Hontiveros.
She added that “CARP advocates will continue pushing for it in Congress, the Supreme Court (SC) and the communities.”
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.