[ Manila Bulletin Online ] September 24, 2008
By EDMER F. PANESA
House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles has called on his colleagues to work double time in submitting the amendments to the proposed legislation extending the life of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which legally expired last June.
Nograles said he wants the House of Representatives to approve a "widely accepted" version of the CARP extension bill before the year is over.
"We do not want to end up cramming and rushing again just to beat the December deadline. What I want is for us to have a CARP extension law that is acceptable to everyone before Dec. 31," Nograles said.
The House leader issued the statement as he expressed deep concern over the slow pace of the period of amendments on the measure seeking to extend CARP to five more years.
He requested House members to submit their individual amendments that would be consolidated in plenary to perfect the bill and ensure that an extension law would truly improve the country’s food productivity.
"I am just concerned because proposals are coming only in trickles. We only have three months left and we need to finalize all the substantive amendments to perfect the extension measure," Nograles said.
While acknowledging that all the standing committees are all focused on the on-going deliberation of the proposed R1.415-trillion 2009 General Appropriations Act, Nograles said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which administers the CARP, needs funding for such a program extension.
"DAR is asking for their budget but if we cannot pass the extension law for the simple reason that we still cannot find a win-win solution for the impasse on CARP, we will be providing appropriations for a program that will cease to exist on Dec. 31. Our country needs this CARP, especially now that our thrust is food productivity," he said.
The Speaker assured the people, especially the country’s farmers and stakeholders in agrarian reform, that "we will surely find time for this very important piece of legislation."
However, he pointed out that the CARP extension law should not just be about distributing lands to the landless farmers but it should also assure beneficiaries enough government support to make their lands productive.
"We cannot afford to let the country’s agrarian reform program fail and just go to waste," Nograles said, adding, "We have to correct or redirect the programs under the present CARP law as demanded by current situations."
The status of the extension proposal under House Bill (HB) No. 4077 is still open to all amendments as the bill has yet to hurdle plenary interpellation.
Both the antis and proponents of the measure are expected to contribute their inputs during the plenary period of amendments.