MANILA, Philippines -- The government can continue with the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) until the end of the year unless the Supreme Court declares otherwise, Speaker Prospero Nograles insisted on Friday.
Nograles admitted, however, that the Senate's inaction on Joint Resolution 21, maintaining the LAD component until December 31, has weakened the House's position on the matter.
"While our position could have been legally stronger if the Senate acted favorably on our resolution, this does not remove the fact that the LAD component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has a funding that would only expire on Dec. 31, 2008 as provided by the General Appropriations Act of 2008," he said in a statement.
"It may have weakened our position but I still maintain that our legal position is correct unless the Supreme Court says otherwise," he pointed out.
The House adopted the resolution before it adjourned sine die Wednesday night.
The measure will not be effected into law, however, without the Senate's concurrence.
Nograles said that while it would have been ideal had the Senate acted "swiftly and favorably? on the joint resolution, this did not diminish the effect of the House position that the CARP law has not completely expired since its LAD component would still end on December 31.
Unless the Supreme Court declares that the LAD component has been automatically terminated with its June 10 expiration, the Speaker said, the government has the option to continue in carrying out the LAD for agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Nograles said the House would not abandon its position as it was in fact, seriously considering coming up with entirely new and improved agrarian reform legislation.
"The situation is not hopeless because while we maintain our legal position that the agrarian reform law is still in effect until December 31, we also have the option to simply come up with a new agrarian reform law, which we can fast-track during the second regular session," he said.
?We are not giving up on CARP," he stressed.
Nograles reiterated the need to pass a truly "responsive agrarian reform law" as he called on his peers to "set aside haste and inflamed emotions."
He also created a special committee-- composed of Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia, Majority Leader Art Defensor, Representatives Edcel Lagman, Luis Villafuerte and Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora -- that would craft and consolidate all amendments to the agrarian reform law.