Now Comes the Hard Part…

Jan 09

Successful revolutions are rare; successful reform is even rarer, claims Samuel Huntington in his classic “Political Order in Changing Societies”.  Today, what can only be described as a serious enterprise at reform is unfolding in dramatic fashion in this country.  Whether it will succeed will depend, to a great extent, on its leading edge, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. With his grim determination to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona from being a stumbling block to his drive to prosecute former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, there is no longer any doubt that the president is dead serious about rooting out corruption.   Along with cleaning up government, Aquino has moved decisively on the anti-poverty front, massively expanding the Conditional Cash Transfer program to reach 4.6 million families or an estimated15 to 20 million individuals by 2014.  These two policy thrusts, along with the absence of any instances of corruption in the administration, have silenced the skeptics in the chattering classes and driven the opposition in frustration to float the ridiculous charge that Aquino is using the crusade against corruption to establish a dictatorship. With the anti-corruption and anti-poverty campaign well underway, the president must now turn his attention to the bigger challenges: bringing about a more equitable distribution of wealth, coping with the environmental crisis, and setting the stage for sustained and sustainable economic development. Social Justice Agrarian reform is seen widely as the litmus test of the administration’s commitment to social justice, and the president has been criticized for dragging his feet on the issue owing to, the critics claim, family ties.  However, the final resolution by the Supreme Court in favor of physical redistribution of Hacienda Luisita among its tenants should provide the impetus for accelerating and completing the slow-moving land reform program. In 2009, Congress passed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms Law, better known as CARPER.  The measure extended completion of land redistribution by five years, appropriating for this purpose P150 billion.  By this month, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will have only 30 months to complete land redistribution.  The statistics are not encouraging, according to an report by Focus on the Global South: “There is a very small window to complete land distribution…As...

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