DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A farmers’ group said that the third round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front will be an important step towards achieving genuine land reform.
Pedro Arnado, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Southern Mindanao Region said that the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms will enable the House Bill No. 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill to pass into law.
“Karon sa ikatulong round, sa panghinabing kalinaw, seryoso kini. Sugdan na nila paghisgot ang CASER para mupabor kini nga mamahimong balaud ang Genuine Agrarian reform Bill nga nakatak-ang sa congress” (This third round of peace talks is very important because they will be discussing the CASER which will enable the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill to pass as a law), Arnado said in a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 21.
Arnado claimed that there is no other way to pass the bill filed by Anakypawis Partylist in 2004 by then representative, Crispin Beltran. Succeeding representatives of the partylist has refiled it including the incumbent Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano in 2008. Also, incumbent Anakpawis Partylist representative Ariel Casilao filed the bill in congress of July this year.
The bill, according to Arnadao, would distribute farmlands at no cost to farmers with the benefit of strong agricultural support in the form of subsidies.
The present land reform program, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program required farmers to pay amortization of 30 years. Without adequate support from the government, many farmers had to sell back their lands, rendering them landless again, Arnado said.
“Wala nay lain pang gituohan. Kana gyud ang pinakabutang para marehistro sa GRP nga bitbiton sa NDF, nga wala nay laing mu apod apod sa yuta pinaagi sa kaseryoso ug pagkamatinu-danon luyo sa konsepto nga libre siya” (We believe there is no other way to register this concern to the GRP, and the NDF will bring this to the table. No other bill will truly and sincerely redistribute the lands freely), Arnado said in a phone interview with Davao Today.
Arnado also emphasized the importance of CASER, which he said will favor the interests of the poor.
“Mainition kaning CASER nga hisgutanan kay ang agenda man sa kabos nga katawhan ang gibitbit niini. Kana man ang kamatuoran: nga kinahanglan luwason ug depensahan ang gagmay gikan sa pagpahimulos sa mga dagko” (CASER is a very important topic because this emphasizes the agenda of the poor. This is the truth: the poor have to be saved and defended from the oppression of the rich), Arnado said.
The government and the National Democratic Front are set to sit down for the third round of peace talks in Rome on January 18-25. The main agenda will be the CASER which will include contentious issues like agrarian reform and national industrialization. (davaotoday.com)