Congress approved a six-month extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for the second time. Albeit, with new twist. It prohibited the mandatory and compulsory distribution of land, allowing only the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) mode of land acquisition.
By this act alone, the landlord-dominated Congress ended the constitutional mandate of social justice–at least–until six months hence. However, given the current political climate, this six-month grace is more of a farcical drama of a near-death patient being merely fanned instead of being given oxygen and other restorative drugs.
The only thing that is keeping the agrarian reform program alive is the stiff resistance of the peasantry themselves and their broad supporters, including the Catholic church itself. The latter knows the social upheaval consequent to a failed asset transfer in the agrarian sector.
The main political lesson from the struggle in the current agrarian reform issue is that the political ruling class is feeling pretty well secured and is prepared to abandon even pretensions at democratization. The ruling state is slowly evolving–if not already there–from a post-Marcos elitist democracy to an oligarchic state. In this situation, the fragile electoral democracy may easily slide into a farcical electoral democracy, even to some form of an oligarchic autocracy.
The current struggle over charter change basically reflects this struggle between the strengthening and broadening of Philippine democracy versus the impulse to institute oligarchic rule.
With a dead CARP, the demise of the promise of the 1986 people power is not far. The stage is thus set for another people power struggle.