“You deceived the workers who harvested your fields but now their wages cry out to the heavens. The reapers’ complaints have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.” (James, 5.4)
We rejoice with thousands of small farmers, civil society groups and bishops who lobbied for the pas-sage of the extended and reformed Agrarian Law. On June 1 and 4, the Senate and House respectively passed their versions of the CARP with Extension and Reforms (CARPer) Bill. The Bicameral Committee finally passed a consolidated version on June 9, which President Arroyo will sign into law on August 8 (with retroactive enforcement from July 1).
But the CARP with Extension and Reforms (CARPer) legislation cannot bring about tangible and last-ing benefits to the small farmers without an effective Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) with specific targets, demonstrating the Government’s clear political will to see the law brought to fruition.
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, assembled in our Biannual Plenary Conference, appeal to the Government on behalf of our small farmers.
We most respectfully submit the following appeal:
1.Counter attempts to derail CARPer, such as the proposal through Con-Ass to allow foreigners and foreign corporations to own and control agricultural lands and other natural resources of the country.
2.Counter the secession of 600,000 hectares of public lands in Northern Luzon (more than one half of the entire land reform target of CARPer) to Pacific Bio-Fields Holdings Inc. for bio-fuel to be exported to Japan.
3.Favour the serious implementation of Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) over large and contentious agricultural estates immediately after CARPer is signed into law (with retrospective enforcement from July 1).
“The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries…. All this needs to be accomplished with the involvement of local communities in choices and decisions that affect the use of agricultural land..…At the same time, the question of equitable agrarian reform in developing countries should not be ignored. The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or dis-crimination…” (Encyclical Letter, Caritas In Veritate, Of The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, On Integral Human Development In Charity And Truth, N◦ 27, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 29 June 2009)
For the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
(SGD)+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D
Archbishop of Jaro
July 12, 2009
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