PGMA calls on Philippines Free Press family to support CARL extension
Manila (29 August) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last night called on the family of Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. of the Philippines Free Press to support the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) which will lapse in December this year.
"I hope that we can work together the way your father and my father did to have an extension of land reform, with reforms that will truly emancipate and empower the farmer to be an agribusiness person," the President told Makati Rep. Locsin who is also the executive editor of the country's oldest newsweekly magazine which celebrated its 100th anniversary Wednesday night (Aug. 27).
The President, the guest of honor and speaker at the Free Press centennial celebration held at the Mandarin Oriental Manila in Makati City, paid tribute to Teodoro Locsin Sr., one of the pioneers and writing icons of the Free Press, who had ardently advocated social justice, including land reform during the time of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the President's father.
President Arroyo said her father knew that the Land Reform Law would get the ire of the big landlords and other powerful interests.
"And so he (President Macapagal) was so fortunate that he had the support of Teodoro Locsin Sr."
"This year, the life span of the CARL would lapse in December. And once again, I count on a Locsin, a Locsin in Congress and the Locsins in the FREE PRESS to champion its extension," the President added.
As early as last year, June 2007, the President had already certified as urgent a bill seeking a 10-year extension of the CARL to 2018 to allow government to fully cover the remaining two million hectares of agricultural lands that would benefit an additional two million farmers.
So far, seven million hectares have already been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) since 1988, benefiting about four million farmers. CARP support services have also created 500,000 jobs in the infrastructure sector
For his part, Rep. Locsin recalled that his father's defense of President Macapagal's land reform program can be seen in the pages of the old Free Press issues. Between 1961 and 1963, President Macapagal "called on an uncooperative Congress repeatedly into special sessions" to pass his land reform program, Locsin added.
On Aug. 8, 1963, President Macapagal signed Republic Act No. 3844 or the Agricultural Land Reform Code (ALRC) which abolished share tenancy, institutionalized leasehold, set retention limit at 75 hectares, invested rights of preemption and redemption for tenant farmers, provided for an administrative machinery for implementation, institutionalized a judicial system of agrarian cases, incorporated extension and marketing, and supervised a credit system of services for farmer beneficiaries.
"It became the most notable reform legislation of the Republic, then and now. It became the benchmark of presidential commitment to social justice," Locsin said.
President Arroyo was introduced by Locsin as "the daughter of the President who sacrificed his political career just to be true to his promises."
The passage of RA 3844 emancipated Filipino farmers from the bondage of tenancy but greatly affected the political mission of President Macapagal as it encountered formidable opposition from powerful landlords.
Among those present were veteran journalists, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, Public Works Sec. Leandro Mendoza, former First Lady Imelda Marcos and Free Press president Enrique Locsin. (PIA-MMIO) [top]