Samar bishop urges gov't to review and improve CARP
By Ninfa B Quirante
Catbalogan City (30 March) -- Calbayog Bishop, Most Reverend Isabelo Abarquez, in his keynote address during the Samar Island Rural Congress yesterday, urged the government to see to it that social justice programs like the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) be reviewed and improved through consultations, and properly implemented towards completion.
Speaking before some 100 participants from the three provinces of Samar, Abarquez said that the church has always been concerned with the inequitable distribution of the nation's wealth and the endemic social justices.
He cited the pastoral statement "The Dignity of the Rural Poor-a Gospel Concern (January 28, 2007) where the CBCO summed up the social situation.
He added that it issued a call to hold a National Rural Congress to commemorate the same event in 1967.
The glaring reality unfolded, he added, that "the greater number of our poor in the rural areas" and that urban poverty is a consequence of rural poverty.
Bishop abarquez quoted the CBCP statement that urges "to focus our attention on the greatest victim of our unjust economic order, the rural poor, and the diminishment of their dignity as people and citizens".
He also cited that the CBCP pastoral statement noted that "the one big effort of the government at alleviating rural poverty has been its on-going comprehensive agrarian reform program."
The bishop though admitted that there were deficiencies in the initial drafting of the law by what he labeled as landlord-dominated congress.
But albeit all of these, the bishop genuinely suggested its full implementation after an extensive review.
He added that government and various sectors of society must engage through non-violent and genuinely democratic means- by first listening to the rural poor themselves; by decrying "the shameful 'extra judicial' killings of unarmed crusaders for justice and equality"; and by calling on government to act.
"The responsibility to act,' the Bishop further quoted the CBCP statement, "is just as much ours as those who have the official responsibility."
After all, he said that demands for good governance, transparency and accountability are essential factors in the call for social transformation.
"The need for reform," he said, "is not only for our national institutions but of our moral fiber as a people."
The Bishop then said that may the Samar rural congress-goers be endowed with hope, with Christian hope to see the good things that can be done for the community.
The Samar Island Rural Congress assembled various sectors in the whole island of Samar to represent, women, farmers, fisherfolks, youth and the urban poor.
The congress held at the Cell.Com Hotel in Catbalogan City was sponsored by the Peace and Equity Foundation, Philippine Misereor Partnership-Eastern Visayas Cluster.
The group chose five representatives from their lot to attend the national congress in Manila on May 22, 2008. (PIA-Samar) [top]