Privilege speech of Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin
August 23, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a personal and collective privilege to tackle a historical conflict rooted on social justice and human rights. Fighting inequality is a core objective that our government must address if we want to move on and achieve our desired goal of peace and sustainable development. And to me, agrarian reform and other social justice issues are the “bread and butter” of this hallowed institution.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made an emphatic commitment to agrarian reform when he nominated no less than a former esteemed member of the House and a genuine peasant leader, Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano. His stewardship of the DAR will mean that finally, our farmers will have a true champion leading real change in government. For that, our fervent wishes for his success and may the struggle for genuine agrarian reform be finally resolved under his watch.
This year marks the 29th year after Congress passed an historic Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in 1988. The law is pursuant to a constitutional mandate, Article II Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution --- “The State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform.”
This is also in consonance with Article 12, Section 1 on National Economy and Patrimony that promotes a “more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth targeting especially the under-privileged through sound agricultural development and agrarian reform.”
And finally, a separate constitutional mandate, Article 13 on Agrarian and Natural Resources Reform provided the framework by which agricultural lands, both private and public, are to be redistributed to farmers and farmworkers actually tilling on the land, subject to retention limits to be provided for by Congress and the right of landowners to just compensation. It should be remembered that prior to the CARP and the 1987 Constitution, land reform was already attempted but the contentious issue of what lands are covered and form of ownership by farmer-beneficiaries were not addressed.
Quote: Machris Cabreros, President
Akbayan lauds and supports Senator Leila de Lima's resolve to push through with the investigations into the alarming series of extra judicial killings in the name of this so-called war on drugs which has so far only affected the poor and marginalized.
Despite, and in spite of, the personal attacks launched on her character we commend the steadfast and principled stance she has taken.
We demand that President Rodrigo Duterte stick to the issues, respect the separation of powers with a co-equal branch of government, and apologize to Senator de Lima dahil ang mga binitawan niyang salita ay di lamang simpleng akusasyon, kundi paglapastangan sa karapatan at pinaghirapang reputasyon ng isang kapwa-tao.
The truthfulness of the President's choleric accusations against Senator de Lima is irrelevant -- sexual and personal histories have no place in determining a woman's competence or integrity. This is the same kind of mentality that blames rape victims for being raped, the mindset that frowns on women who report sexual harassment in the workplace, the same kind of thinking that demands women should be in the kitchen, and not in politics.
Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said that he will be relentless in scrutinizing the proposed P3.35-trillion budget for 2017 to ensure that funds are allotted for the right priorities, in the right way.
"We welcome the budget proposed by the executive. But it is our role as legislators to be fiscalizers who will scrutinize the budget and ensure that the process is transparent," Villarin said.
"Someone has to watch over the budget. In case there are mistakes, we can check them. That is the value of having a legitimate minority," he added.
Villarin is one of the "Legitimate 8" who comprise the real and authentic minority bloc in the House of Representatives.
While President Duterte might be sincere in his intention to address the "breakdown of public trust" as he stated in his fiscal message, Villarin noted that public trust is built on the assumption that citizens are provided an avenue for transparency, meaningful participation, and engagement, particularly in the budget process.
"Bottom-up budgeting was an innovation in governance and was a good start. Removing it was tantamount to removing a mechanism for people's empowerment," the lawmaker said.
Beware of historical revisionists.
This was the message of Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin to the Filipino youth as the interment of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani looms.
"Forces are trying to change history and correct their mistakes by rewriting it," the lawmaker said.
"But the good news is you have easy access to factual and verified information. Use it," he added.
Villarin also encouraged the youth to participate in the conversation regarding the burial issue after being informed by credible sources such as the 17-page report of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, belying Marcos' claims to heroism.
He also asked the youth to look into numerous local and international reports revealing the total number of victims of torture, abduction, and summary execution during the Martial Law era, reaching more than 75,000.
President Duterte's decision to have the former dictator buried in the national heroes cemetery is tantamount to negating the atrocities of the martial law regime.
"It is like the Orwellian fictional story 1984 where big brother dictates the truth and perpetuates deception by negating the contradictions of the past," Akbayan party list Rep Tom Villarin said.
The dystopian novel by George Orwell portrays a fictional government where a truth ministry continually revises public records to conform to contemporary political exigencies dictated by a party leader called Big Brother.
"The National Historical Commission of the Philippines, a body tasked to inculcate awareness and appreciation of noble deeds and ideals of our heroes through lessons in history have already concluded that Marcos was never a hero. Yet we still want him buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani?," the Akbayan solon added.
36-B Madasalin Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Phone: +63 2 433 6933
Fax: +63 2 925 2936