MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) Congress has committed to pass a bill extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before it goes on recess in June, Malacañang said.
Arroyo relayed the lawmakers? assurance to Roman Catholic bishops during a meeting at the Palace shortly before noon Monday, said deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo.
?That is the commitment of Congress,? Fajardo told a news conference.
?We achieved our purpose because the Senate and the [House] committed to give priority to the bill,? Fajardo said. ?It was very candid and a successful meeting among the stakeholders.?
Among those present during the meeting were Manila Auxiliary Broderick Pabillo, said Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, the Archdiocese of Manila?s charity arm.
In an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas, Pascual quoted the President as saying that ?this is a priority bill and that this will be passed before June 3, although Speaker [Prospero] Nograles said the problem lies in the legislative procedure so he said June 3.?
He said the bishops reiterated their appeal that lawmakers pass the bill before the last day of session ?or we might have a repeat of the situation last December when they passed CARP [extension for six months] at the last minute but the law was ineffective.?
Last December, Congress approved a six-month extension of CARP but suspended a vital component, the compulsory acquisition of private agricultural lands for distribution to tenant farmers.
Also present during the meeting at the Palace were Samar Bishop Emmanuel Trance, Gumaca Bishop Buenaventura Famadico, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena, Senator Gregorio Honasan, the chairman of the Senate committee on agrarian reform, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Pascual said.