“An old and misleading allegation is doing the rounds again. This is obviously meant to scare off landowners who might want to support Vice President Leni Robredo’s bid for the presidency in 2022,” former Negros Occidental Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, Negros for Leni convenor, said Wednesday, October 13.
Coscolluela said being cited is then-Rep. Leni Robredo’s co-authorship of a bill that sought to create a commission “to investigate circumvention and violations of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.”
That bill was submitted by the Good Governance Committee, of which Robredo was co-chair, in response to alleged corruption in the Department of Agrarian Reform, he said.
Robredo has reiterated that the bill “was intended as an anti-corruption measure following complaints received by the Committee”, Coscolluela said.
Simply put, the Congressional Committee was doing its job, he said.
“So why is this an issue? Simple: Leni is running for president. So let’s get to the heart of the matter, namely the aspersions cast on the vice president’s ‘socialist’ and ‘pro land distribution’ stance by virtue of her co-authorship of one bill. Using the same argument, this means all Philippine presidents since 1899 (1st Philippine Republic) can be called super socialists”, he said.
Rodrigo Duterte actually bragged and proclaimed himself a socialist, Cocsolluela pointed out.
“The truth is all our presidents supported agrarian reform in one way or another as a primary means to pursue social justice. So did all our past Congresses who passed the laws. I guess that makes them ‘socialist’, too,” Coscolluela said.
Present-day cooperatives are also socialist in character, he added.
Through Proclamation 1081, Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed the entire country as a land reform area. RA 6389 (Code of Agrarian Reform) was passed during Marcos’ time, as was RA 6390 creating the Department of Agrarian Reform. The 1987 Constitution during President Corazon Aquino’s time led to the passage of RA 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law) in 1988, he said.
President Fidel Ramos sought to strengthen CARP implementation and plugged loopholes in land conversion. He also added P50 billion to the land acquisition program. President Joseph Estrada tried to accommodate private agribusiness interests by allowing joint ventures while continuing to implement land reform, Coscolluela also pointed out.
While then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed RA 9700 extending CARP for another five years and supported programs for Land Tenure Improvement, Support Services, Infrastructure and Agrarian Justice measures, he said.
Former President Benigno Aquino III sought to complete the CARP implementation, created Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services and provided support for Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations and legal case monitoring, he added.
President Duterte, aside from his famous utterances against so-called oligarchs, including sugar landowners, promised to undertake an aggressive land reform program through support services and implementation of Phase 2 of CARP, where he promised to place all public lands, including 400 hectares in Boracay, under agrarian reform, Coscolluela said.
Through all this time, it took the cooperation of our elected congressmen and senators to keep agrarian reform alive, he pointed out.
The question is “Why is VP Leni Robredo the lone target – not those who actually passed and implemented the laws, and not all the others who hope to be President in 2022…My answer: It’s because there’s no other issue to raise against Leni Robredo,” Coscolluela said.*