Law Student Councils for CARPER

Attached is a Joint Statement calling for the immediate promulgation of the CARPER bill signed by the Student Councils of UP Law, Ateneo Law, Silliman University College of Law, UST Civil Law, and University of Baguio College of Law.

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Thanks!

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WE KNOW THAT THE LAW IS ON THE FARMERS’ SIDE.

Joint Resolution No. 19, which extends the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program but without providing for compulsory acquisition, expires on June 30. On June 5, however, the second regular session of Congress will end, resuming only on the first week of July. This means that despite months of campaigning and lobbying for a struggle that has spanned decades, and because of the indifference or neglect of our representatives in Congress, we are again in the eleventh hour, with only nine session days left to pass a law that is not only constitutionality mandated, but is required by basic notions of equity and social justice.

The implementation of an agrarian reform program is a Constitutional mandate which the State may not avoid by legislative inaction. Section 4, Art. XIII of the 1987 Constitution requires the State to “undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof.” As it is, Joint Resolution No. 19 is unconstitutional for being contrary to the very spirit of agrarian reform.  If Congress again fails to pass an agrarian reform law by June 5, it will be nothing short of a dereliction of a duty reposed on the legislative body by our Constitution.

The CARP has been in existence for 20 years, but the fruits of authentic agrarian reform in the country have yet to be reaped. 80% of privately owned agricultural lands remain undistributed. 18% of CARP beneficiaries have not received titles to the lands that they till and should rightfully own. 65% of CARP beneficiaries have no access to government support services that should be available in agrarian reform areas. Rural poverty still accounts for 70% of the country’s poor. If we are to attain social justice eloquently defined by Justice Jose P. Laurel in Calalang vs. Williams as “…the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State…” then agrarian reform is a measure that must not only be continued, but must be among those prioritized.

The Philippine’s agrarian reform program needs to be given more time to fully attain the goals it was created to accomplish. Twenty years of unsatisfactory implementation clearly leaves much room for improvement and reform. House Bill 4077 and Senate Bill 2666, or the CARP Extension with Reforms Bill, reflect the needed changes to address the shortcomings that have prevented the law’s noble purpose from coming into fruition.

We, who study the law, know that laws are there for a reason. Agrarian reform is explicitly identified as a fundamental State policy in Art II Sec 21 of the Constitution. Thus, we ask that our lawmakers breathe life into this policy by enacting laws that set in motion and ensure actual and speedy results.

We, who study the law, know that while the actual provisions are drafted by the members of Congress, laws are ultimately articulations of the people’s will and expressions of the power inherent in them as citizens of a free country. Thus, we remind our lawmakers that their mandate emanates from the people, and their duty is to address their constituents’ needs, even if it means sacrificing their own interests. We reiterate that by eliminating compulsory acquisition, the agrarian reform program is reduced to no more than an empty promise. Without it, there is no reform, only more of the same.

We, who study the law, are no strangers to policies that look resolute on paper, but are torn apart and rendered useless by the selfsame provisions, where motherhood statements mask gaps, loopholes and false pretenses. Thus, we demand that Congress deliver an agrarian reform program that is responsive, sincere and faithful to the principles of social justice.
The second regular session of Congress ends in less than a month. Too much has been lost, too much sacrificed and there is too much at stake for our legislature to fail us now. We take up this cause because we, who study the law, owe it to this country. We owe it to the farmers who walked thousands of miles, and spent weeks in hunger strikes, asking to be heard. We owe it to the blood shed and lives lost. We owe it to the law that we study and pledge to serve. Because if the law cannot be used to protect those who need it the most, then it betrays its own purpose.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!  PASS THE CARPER BILLS (HB 4077 and SB 2666) NOW!!

May 18, 2009

Signed (in alphabetical order):

Student Council
Ateneo Law School
Makati City, Metro Manila

Supreme Law Council
College of Law
Silliman University
Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros

Student Council
College of Law
University of Baguio
Baguio City, Benguet

Civil Law Student Council
College of Law
University of Santo Tomas

Manila City, Metro Manila

Law Student Government
College of Law
University of the Philippines
Quezon City, Metro Manila

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