Social Injustice at the Bottomline
By Cristyl Mae Senajon Contributor Last Thursday I watched a film documenting the long-standing battle of the Sumilao and Negros farmers to win the legal rights over their farmlands. It recounted the farmers’ protest against government’s inaction towards implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law; how this severe inaction drove the peasant groups into staging a radical move to espouse their right to their land-living. The Sumilao farmers walked the long-stretch of land from Bukidnon to Manila for a period of over 60 days in order to bring their seemingly hopeless case to the highest authorities trusting that their request for land ownership be granted to them. The Negros farmers echoed the same battle cry as they went on a 30-day hunger strike hoping that the government would heed their request for land ownership. In the end, after a decade of struggle for land the Sumilao and Negros farmers finally received their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards. Now, they could claim ownership to the land that they themselves had tilled for so many years. It is baffling to see why these farmers and probably many more others had to go through agony and hardships just to claim a piece of their constitutional rights. It is even more depressing that there had to be an occurrence of killing incidents before the government took serious actions while big landowners got away easily from law and got unpunished for felony only because they had the money, connection, and influence and only because they had seats in the congress and posts in the government bureaucracy. On another side, it never seemed easy for ordinary Filipinos like the Sumilao and Negros land tillers to have their civil rights to be even recognized because of their economic standing. When did the right of one person and of a few weigh more than the rights of the greater majority? Much less, when did wealth become the dispensation to stamp on the rights of those who had less in life? Social justice as defined is not merely the administration of law. It is generally thought of as a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and impartial share of society. It is absolutely unfair for a very few to enjoy a monopoly in land resources and also control the distribution of technological inputs, rural banking, farm machinery, transportation, processing, and marketing of farm produce while the rest live miserably in scarcity. These resources must be impartially enjoyed by the land owner and the land tiller. Social injustice is very much the prevalent condition of our present society. People’s rights get trampled in favor of the rights of the few. The issue on agrarian reform is still very much a concrete and clear example of this lingering social ill. Unless there is a redistribution of economic and political power, democratization, social justice and peace will not be created. In the assessment of agrarian reform, the government must impose a stronger political will while involving all its line agencies, local units and the police force in ensuring the execution of the agrarian reform program and the security of its beneficiaries. It should be at the forefront of upholding the CARL despite its ambiguities and limitations. After all, there can never be a truly working of law in the absence of fair treatment.
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