Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kaya Natin! leaders back CARP extension

Kaya Natin! leaders back CARP extension

By: Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 22,2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Local officials involved in Kaya Natin!, a national movement for good governance and ethical leadership, on Thursday expressed support for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), provided this came with reforms.

Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Mayor Sonia Lorenzo, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Ifugao Gov. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. and Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio were the first local officials to have supported the CARP extension.

In a statement, they also voiced support to the moves being taken by the Catholic Church to “reform the current CARP law that will ensure that proper support services are given to the beneficiaries of the land reform program.”

Signed into law by then President Corazon Aquino in June 1988, the CARP was extended for another 10 years until June this year.

The Department of Agrarian Reform reported having an unfinished balance of more than one million hectares of private lands, seeking also an extension of three years to be able to provide more support to agrarian reform communities through infrastructure, farming and marketing services.

“As local government leaders who witness the day-to-day struggles of our farmers, we believe that the non-extension of the CARP will be a big setback in our fight against the rampant poverty that is being felt by majority of Filipinos,” the Kaya Natin! leaders said.

They said it was “sad to note that despite being a predominantly agricultural country, the main heroes of our food security, our farmers, remain to live in poverty wherein many continue to subsist with less than P100 a day.”

In extending the CARP, they said “land resources will be equitably distributed among the Filipino people and will thus provide our farmers and their families with a chance of accessing a better quality of life.”

The reforms, they added, should center on promoting social justice and equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

They also appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to certify the CARP extension bill as urgent and to encourage her allies in Congress to pass the bill when session resumes in January 2009.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Gamechangers in the 2010 National Elections (Part 1)

EVERY time I ask my friends about whom they will vote for in the coming 2010 Presidential Elections, I usually receive two different answers. The first answer is, "May magaganap bang election? Mukhang ayaw talagang bumaba ni Gloria eh (Will there be elections in 2010? I don't think the President wants to step down)."

The other answer is, "Wala pa akong mapili sa mga gustong tumakbo, kasi mukhang pare-pareho lang naman silang lahat eh (With the current crop of Presidentiables, I can't seem to choose any one of them since all of them seem to be the same)."

It is therefore not surprising when former Bulacan Governor Josie Mendoza-Dela Cruz informed us yesterday at a forum hosted by the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung that there are still more than 40 percent of Filipinos who continue to be undecided on whom to support for the coming Presidential elections.

If the trend continues and we will have 5 or more Presidential candidates, just getting a majority of the 40 percent of these undecided voters will give a candidate a fighting chance of winning the elections. More likely these undecided 40 percent is looking for a reform and alternative candidate given that many of them feel that there is no one among the current crop of Presidentiables, which will effectively address the main social problems of the country particularly food security, housing, education and health.

Aside from these undecided voters, one of the other gamechangers in the upcoming 2010 National Elections aside from the large number of young voters is the growing number of Filipinos who are either living or working overseas.

Estimates have shown that by 2009, a year before our elections, the number of Overseas Filipinos will be around 8.5 million given that more than 3,000 Filipinos continue to leave our country each day.

These overseas Filipinos, most of which work in progressive and first world countries, such as the United States of America, Singapore, Italy, Japan, Australia and Canada, have seen how governments of these countries have been able to function effectively towards providing opportunities and a better quality of life for most of its citizens.

More importantly, because of their experience living and working in these countries, many of them would aspire towards also seeing the Philippines move out of its current state of rampant poverty and underdevelopment.

Like I said in one of my previous articles, if only 20 percent of these overseas Filipinos become active volunteers and contributors in electing a reform-minded, effective and ethical Presidential candidate, then I believe that we do not have to always settle for the lesser evil among those that we have right now.

With the absentee voting law now in effect, overseas Filipinos now have an opportunity to make their voices heard but it doesn't end with just voting, with the new wealth generated by Filipinos working overseas, they can actually contribute small amounts to a candidate that they feel would represent the real needs of the Filipino people.

We all know for a fact that Philippine elections cannot be won without the right amount of financial resources and many of these good candidates by virtue of them being honest leaders do not have the amount of resources needed to run an effective campaign.

Aside from this, they can also influence their families in the Philippines to vote for this candidate especially since they are most likely the main breadwinner of their families.

Next year will be critical since we will be a year away from choosing our next leader, it would be interesting to see if there will be a reform or alternative candidate in the Philippines that will generate the same excitement and passion as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama did for his own country.

We saw it happen already in Pampanga through Gov. Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio's victory against well-entrenched politicians and also in Isabela through Gov. Grace Padaca's defying of all political odds to beat a half century old political dynasty not only once but twice! Can we make it happen for our whole country? If you ask me, I believe so.