Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said yesterday the four bills cover Duterte’s election vow to give farmers free irrigation, to distribute the controversial coco levy funds, to end contractualization of workers, and to provide socialized housing.
Anakpawis said it would also refile the Genuine Agrarian Reform bill which was ignored in the last Congress. During the campaign period, however, Duterte did not make any categorical promise on agrarian reform, except that he would look further into the program.
Casilao said his partylist would also pass five resolutions on the implementation of land reform in Hacienda Luisita which is owned by the family of former Pres. Aquino, on the Laguna Lake Dike Expressway project, the Kidapawan massacre, the amendments on the Fisheries Code, and the abrogation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US.
In the draft of its bill on free irrigation, Anakpawis noted that “in 2015, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) claimed that irrigation development has only reached 57 percent or 1.7 million hectares of land supposedly irrigated out of the targeted 3 million hectares. At least 1.3 million hectares thus are still without irrigation.”
“Such dire circumstance is further exacerbated by the apparent lack or utter absence of state support to agriculture and the reneging of concerned government agencies on its service function to vital areas of production such as irrigation,” the proposed bill noted.
Anakpawis said that “given the strategic importance of irrigation in pursuing sustained agricultural growth and development, rice self-sufficiency, food security, and the upliftment of the welfare of Filipino farmers, it is the obligation of the state to provide free irrigation services.”
Casilao also said his partylist’s bill on housing lamented that provisions in the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 “ in effect, has only legalized demolition and contradicted the government’s principle of discouraging eviction and demolition.”
“The absence of basic social services and the lack of employment opportunities in resettlement areas and tenement houses are prevalent. The inability of relocatees to find jobs and livelihood in far-flung relocation sites make it difficult for them to pay for rent, amortization, electricity, water and other housing-related charges, resulting to the denial of essential services and, worse, to renewed threats of eviction,” the proposed bill on housing said.
It noted that the “government should realize that the right to adequate housing should not be narrowly interpreted as merely the claim to a roof over one’s head. Neither should shelter be exclusively treated as a commodity. Rather, government should view the housing question as a set of state tasks to provide people with socio-economic security, peace and dignity.”
Meawnhile, Anakpawis proposed bill against contractualization noted that “majority of the countrys 37.6 million employed persons are either employed in contractual, temporary, probationary, seasonal and odd jobs.”
“Based on official government data, an estimate of 44 percent of workers employed in various industries are not regulars. The rate of contractual employment is also high in the construction sector (81 percent) and quarrying sector (59 percent),” Anakpawis also said.
It said that “With this reality, the State must determinedly protect and uphold workers’ rights to decent and long-term employment by protecting their security of tenure, declaring illegal all forms of contractual employment and penalizing those who will continue to carry out this anti-worker scheme.”
Anakpawis also said it is proposing yet another bill which on the distribution of the coco levy funds. It recalled that “on October 5, 2012, the Presidential Commission on Good Government remitted P56,538,623,400 to the National Treasury after the redemption of the 753,848,312 SMC Series 1 Preferred Shares. Along with the escrowed dividend payments and accrued interest which total an additional P13,700,669,652.86, these monies are be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.”
It said its bill “encapsulates the seven-point proposal raised by small coconut farmers on how the coco levy funds should be used and utilized to the full advantage of small coconut farmers and the entire coconut industry.”
“This bill seeks to address this concern of small coconut farmers. It is meant to effect the return of the control of the coco levy funds to their rightful owners, the millions of small coconut farmers; providing therefor a mechanism so that their rights and interest to those funds shall be protected; and so they may exercise their ownership rights over the funds and may dispose these as they see fit in line with the development of the local coconut industry,” Anakpawis explained.
On agrarian reform, Anakpawis is also filing a bill which noted that “land-grabbing in the form of land-use conversions intensified under CARP.”
“DAR records show that from 1979 to December 31, 2003, there were 2,885 approved applications for conversion involving 40,485.9124 hectares of agricultural lands, while the National Statistics Office (NSO), in 2002, cited that 827,892 hectares of agricultural land have been converted to other uses,” the proposed bill also noted.
Anakbayan is thus batting for a “genuine agrarian reform bill which will “cover all agricultural lands, thus practically rendering land conversion illegal and revoking all previous unjust decrees on exemption and exclusion.”
“The bill seeks likewise to institutionalize a thoroughgoing program of state support and subsidy to land reform beneficiaries in all the important aspects of agricultural production, including the promotion of cooperativization,” Anakpawis added.