MANILA, Dec. 21, 2012—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) called on the Aquino Administration to fulfill its promise to complete the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and to remove all the obstacles that delay and hinder its implementation.
NASSA, in a statement has expressed its deep concern on the situation of 56 farmers who are on hunger strike in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) since December 17.
“We are deeply concerned about the situation. By the end of the third day, December 19, a total of 28 hunger strikers were reported to have collapsed and were rushed to the hospital. The number increased to 33 at the start of fourth day,” said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.
The bishop also appealed to President Aquino to listen to the farmers’ request before the number of hunger strikers will increase.
“What the farmers are fighting for are the land reform and land distribution under the CARP –very important social justice issue for which they are willing to sacrifice everything, and we support the farmers’ struggle towards it,” Pabillo added.
Pabillo, who is NASSA’s national director, also urged the faithful to pray for the farmers and for Aquino to take responsibility for the CARP completion.
Meanwhile, in support of the hunger strikers, other farmer members of Task Force Mapalad (TFM) staged a die-in in front of the building on December 18.
“We ask the President to save the lives of hunger strikers by ousting Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary De los Reyes immediately and by taking charge of the completion of CARP,” TFM-Negros president Alberto Jayme said.
Jayme added that the hunger strikers remain steadfast in their demand and are seeking audience with President Aquino to ask him to remove all the impediments to the commitments he had made in his meeting with the same group of farmers in Malacañang on June 14.
“We are waiting for the President Aquino to respond to our appeal that De los Reyes be replaced for being a weak and inefficient leader at DAR,” Jayme furthered.
Moreover, 76 provincial presidents of the Department of Agrarian Reform Employees Association (DAREA) signed a statement of support of the fasting farmers.
DAREA has been calling for the resignation of De los Reyes, whom they accused of masterminding the abolition of DAR and the termination of thousands of the department’s employees nationwide.
De los Reyes has also been accused of failing to execute Aquino’s order to speed up the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of CARP, issue notices of coverage (NOCs) over private agricultural lands (PALs) 25 hectares and bigger and hasten the release of Certificates of Landownership Awards (CLOAs) for landless farmers. [SocialActionNews]