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Palace inaction on CARP reso equals veto

January 03, 2009 19:35:00
Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Because an expired program cannot be extended, the President's decision not to sign the joint resolution to prolong the life of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program for six more months was tantamount to a veto, according to Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

Lagman pointed out that the CARP's land acquisition and distribution component -- which the resolution sought to prolong -- expired at the end of 2008. Since the program was not extended before then, the joint resolution of Congress would prove useless because there was nothing more to prolong, he added.

Malacañang has said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would let the joint resolution lapse into law, which takes place 30 days after the Office of the President receives the measure.

"Even if the President allows the joint resolution to 'lapse into law' by January 22, 2009 or 30 days after the enrolled copy of the joint resolution was officially received by the Office of the President on December 23, 2008, there is no more LAD (land acquisition and distribution) to extend because it has already earlier expired. Once the deadline sought to be extended has expired, no belated extension could be effected," Lagman said in a statement.

He had called for a veto of the joint resolution because it removed the compulsory acquisition of private land from CARP, which he noted was the program's heart and soul.

Farmers have themselves railed at the removal of the compulsory acquisition component, since it was tantamount to leaving land acquisition to the mercy of landlords who have fought CARP.

Lawmakers backing the resolution have said that it was better than letting CARP die, and that the six-month extension would be used to conduct a more in-depth study of the program.

Lagman explained that the joint resolution could only be allowed to lapse into law if the lapsing into effectivity of the joint resolution would take place before the program's deadline ends.

In this case, there was no intervening period to allow the resolution to become a law while the program is still in effect.

With this, Lagamn urged the House of Representatives to convert his pending CARP extension bill into one reviving the program's land acquisition and distribution component, including compulsory acquisition. His bill had sought to extend CARP for five years and provide it with a P100-billion budget.

"The joint resolution now belongs to the archives of failed measures and the legislative process is ripe for the enactment of House Bill No. 4077, the original Lagman extension bill, which should now be converted into a LAD revival measure including compulsory acquisition," he said.

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who is opposed to the joint resolution, shares the same view as Lagman. Rodriguez said that the President effectively let CARP expire with no chance for extension when she failed to sign the joint resolution by December 31.

"There is a technicality there. You cannot extend something that is no longer in effect," he said.

He said he will file a bill next week to renew the compulsory acquisition of land in the program.

Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, who also rejected Congress' joint resolution, said the President should not sign the measure because it was "illegal and unconstitutional" without the compulsory acquisition of land component.

"The CARP bill should be passed and GMA should include the Arroyo lands in Negros under the program," Hontiveros said.

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