Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:49
(Speech delivered by REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN on 03 August 2009)


President Corazon Aquino is truly the icon of Philippine democracy because she was responsible to a great measure for the restoration of democratic institutions in our country.

But democracy remains a shibboleth if it fails to enhance the lives of the masses – the very repository of sovereign will and power.

President Aquino made the revival of democracy meaningful and real by making the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) the centerpiece of her administration as a social justice agenda.

On 22 July 1987 during her revolutionary government, she issued Proclamation No. 131 instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. This followed her earlier issuance of Executive Order No. 229 on 17 July 1987 providing the mechanisms for the implementation of the CARP.

In her first State of the Nation Address, on 27 July 1987, she urged the 8th Congress of the Republic to enact a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as a “congressional complement” of the CARP. On 10 June 1988 she signed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

CARP was not perfect – both in the basic law and in its implementation. But by and large, it is a salutary program and has beneficent results, foremost of which are the increase in productivity in the countryside and alleviation of rural poverty.

President Aquino was aware that social justice as an agrarian reform objective involves the transformation of the small farmer from a mere tiller of a piece of land to an owner of it, his emancipation from poverty, and the enhancement and nourishment of whatever is left of his mangled self-esteem. He slowly realizes his strength and mobilizes it in his battle for economic self-sufficiency.

The chief contribution of agrarian reform to agricultural development is the motivation it gives to the small farmer to maximize his output from the piece of land he finally owns. He is induced to make optimum use of his available resources. He becomes an entrepreneur.

The multiplier effect of agricultural development through agrarian reform helps radiate economic activity from the farm to other sectors of our economy. The initial impulse of an increase in the incomes of agrarian reform beneficiaries gets communicated throughout the economy.

Emancipation from poverty. Entrepreneurship. Economic self-sufficiency. Empowerment. Enhancement and nourishment of self-esteem. These are the blessings that 22 years ago President Aquino projected the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to give to agrarian reform beneficiaries. To a respectable degree, these have happened.

President Aquino must have been pleased to know that the House of Representatives ratified on 29 July 2009 the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the extension of the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) component of the CARP with principal reforms.

The Senate ratified the same this afternoon and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected sign the extension measure on Friday.

We are not orphaned by the passing away of President Corazon Aquino. We have her highest democratic ideals and enduring legacy like the CARP, among others, to cherish and pursue.

Thank you.