Akbayan Party-list today blasted the “unwarranted” violent dispersal of farmers holding a rally in front of Batasan Pambansa and urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to conduct a thorough investigation of the “cold-hearted” handling of the incident.
“We denounce the callous and violent method employed by security agents to disperse a very small and powerless group of farmers whose mere agenda for trooping to Congress is to express their long-awaited clamor for the passage of the bill seeking for the completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said.
“The use of violence is callous and definitely unwarranted as it smacks squarely on the farmers’ right to fully express their legitimate concerns and other compelling public interests to be addressed by the government and other concerned government agencies,” he added.
The statement was made following reports that a team of security agents used water canons and tear gas to disperse a group of farmers and their sectoral leaders who were gathered together to call for the passage of House Bill 4296, which extends the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
In particular, the proposed measure seeks to continue the issuance of Notices of Coverage over land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Majority of remaining lands are in Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Basilan, Iloilo, Capiz, Tawi-tawi, Surigao, among others.
Earlier on the day of the mobilization, Gutierrez, together with fellow Akbayan representative Angie Ludovie-Katoh, joined the farmers to express their “unwavering support” to the gathered farmers and their long-standing call for the full implementation of the agrarian reform.
The proposed measure was endorsed by the House of Representatives Committee on Agrarian Reform to the Committee on Rules, which shall calendar it for consideration on Second Reading.
Last March of this year, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II has committed to the passage of HB 4296 before Congress adjourns sine die on June 11 following a meeting with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacanang.
The pending legislation has already been certified urgent by the President last June 2014.###