Enact ‘genuine’ agrarian reform bill – lawmaker

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Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao on Wednesday reiterated his call for the enactment of House Bill 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), saying it is a step to resolving the centuries-old agrarian problem in the country and would lead to genuine rural and development that would benefit the whole population.

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“Haciendas and land monopoly reigned since the Spanish colonial period in our history, but the rich hacienderos and big businesses are still holding on to their vast tracts of lands, keeping the peasant class under undescribable poverty and misery,” Casilao said during a protest of farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas at the south gate of the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

“I challenge the current Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte to break out and decisively emancipate the majority of the population by enacting free distribution of land in the country,” he added.

Casilao said land monopoly is the root cause of armed uprising of the peasants, primarily embodied by the New People’s Army (NPA) and the on-going “bungkalan” (cultivation) campaigns of legal-democratic organizations of farmers across the country.

He renewed his call for the government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and assert the immediate conclusion of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and free distribution of land to poor farmers.

“The prospect of genuine agrarian reform in the country is either the President certifying GARB, with Congress ratifying it, or with the NPA resolutely launching their agrarian revolution program confiscating lands from landlords and freely distributing them to poor farmers, we urge Congress to fulfill the former,” Casilao said.

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