Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee


by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao, Balaod Mindanaw

The historic journey of the Sumilao Farmers by walking from Bukidnon to Manila paved the way for their eventual victory after 12 long years of struggle. Their experience leaves prints of hope and inspired other groups to make their own pilgrimage. The same is true with the Banasi and Calatagan farmers who, inspired by the Sumilao farmers' struggle, walked for more than 444 kilometers from Camarines Norte to Manila and from Batangas to Manila, to claim their lands under agrarian reform.
Their successful campaign exposed the Achilles heel of the landed states and brought agrarian reform to the forefront of national concern. CARP had reached its 20 years of implementation on 15 June 2008, but congress seemed indifferent to the calls of peasant groups to extend and reform CARP. It even disregarded the resounding call of the 79 Bishops for the passage of CARPER. The only thing it did was to issue Joint Resolution No. 19, which only paralyzed CARP, short of killing it.
Calls for an urgent and coordinated response from peasant movements, AR advocates, the Church and Civil Society are overwhelming. The Church, through the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is very consistent in calling for a legislation that will extend and reform CARP. Bishop Pabillo's hunger strike is a testament to this.

The primary aim then of the Farmers' Pilgrimage for CARPER is to contribute to the wider agrarian reform struggle to pressure congress to pass CARPER before June 30, 2009. The strategy is to raise the consciousness of the public to take concrete actions and as well as for the farmers to lead the cause by taking the pilgrimage for CARPER.

Considering the time element, 50 Sumilao farmers and other groups will have a caravan from Bukidnon to Visayas, and shall start their walk at the Banasi area in Bicol. The Sumilao farmers will encourage the locals that they shall pass through to join the pilgrimage. It is expected that the pilgrims will increase after every diocesan forum. The core pilgrims shall be joined by the Banasi Farmers upon reaching Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur. They shall also be joined by the Calatagan Farmers when they reach Batangas. The increasing number of pilgrims shall continue their walk to the House of Representatives in Manila to converge with other farmer groups.


• We should push Congress to perform its constitutional duty of enacting a law extending CARP with the necessary reforms especially those contained in House Bill 4077 and Senate Bill 266 at the soonest possible time.
• We must push Congress to revoke Join Rsolution No. 19 in order to give way to land acquisition and distribution through Compulsory Acquisition.
• We should resist and block anti-CARP bills like the Perfecting Amendment Bills proposed by Congressman Villafuerte
• We should continue our struggle of relentlessly upholding the rights of the farmers and farmworkers in order to promote the principles of justice and equity enshrined in our Constitution
• Strengthen our collective resolve and commitment and work to expand agrarian reform constituents to support the nationwide call to extend and reform CARP