Posted on 2007

Solidarity Night, 19th CARP Anniversary
Renaissance Hotel, Makati City


        I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Sec. Pangandaman and the DAR community for inviting me to this momentous event.  It is indeed my pleasure and privilege to be your guest of honor tonight.

        Since time immemorial, there has been severe inequalities in the distribution of land in the Philippines.  The rich and the powerful owned haciendas comprised of hundreds of hectares of land while their tenants tilled them for generations.  Our government has responded to this inequity through several land reform programs, the most successful and widespread of which is the CARP.   

        On this Solidarity Night as part of the 19th CARP Anniversary, let me thank you for the service that you have provided the Filipino people.

        Over the past 19 years, the redistribution of land has been generally successful. About 85% of the beneficiaries of the CARP have received land they can now call their own.  Aside from Land Distribution and other CARP related projects involving infrastructure, the provision of credit systems, and trainings for financial management, starting cooperatives, and the like also saw high levels of success.  Hindi ito magiging posible kung hindi dahil sa pagtulung-tulungan ng mga iba’t-ibang grupong naging aktibo sa paggawa at pag-implementa nito.

        It is therefore only fitting that this night will be highlighted with the awarding and recognition of the CARP implementing agencies and other stakeholders.  I hold you all in high respect for your efforts to address the inequitable distribution of land and also for championing the cause of our fellowmen.  Your achievements are inspiring for us to emulate. Now, only one more year remains before the CARP expires.  Yes, we did a great job in terms of the implementation but this is certainly not enough.  Development in the rural areas should continue as well as the services provided to the people who were made beneficiaries of this statute.  As Secretary Pangandaman said, and I quote, “to see the need to sustain its gains and its continued relevance to the nation's sustainable rural growth and development agenda - that CARP does not end in redistributing lands but more importantly, it is a comprehensive program that can really uplift the socio-economic status of our millions of farmers in the countryside… serving as vehicle not only for social justice but also for poverty reduction, agricultural productivity, job generations and economic growth. Thus, CARP should be pursued beyond the termination of its funding source.”

        Sec. Pangandaman is right.  The extension of the CARP should be pursued.  We should not look at CARP as a mere vehicle for land redistribution.  What will happen now that our farmers for example receive their land?  They need support.  Quantity of the land redistributed must not be the only measure of success.  Kung wala silang sapat na suporta kahit na labag sa batas ng CARP, mapipilitan lamang ang iba na ibenta o kaya iprenda ang kanilang nakuhang lupa.   Finally, we also need to address the evasion tactics of landlords in order to promote more successful land redistribution. 

        We cannot deny our brothers’ and sisters’ the opportunity to live better and more comfortable lives. Our work is definitely not yet finished.  The fight for rural folk empowerment, social justice and equity is just starting.

        Wala pa tayo sa tuktok at hindi po tayo titigil hanggat hindi pa natin ito naaatim!!!  At maniwala kayo, kakayanin natin ito kung may Sipag at Tiyaga at kung patuloy tayong magtutulungan para sa kaunlaran.

        Mabuhay Kayong Lahat!!!

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