(STAR) By Jess Diaz - President Arroyo has allowed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to expire by not signing the joint Senate-House resolution extending it, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said yesterday.

CARP expired last Dec. 31.

Commenting on a Malacañang statement that the President has decided to allow the joint resolution to “lapse into law,” Lagman said the measure is now useless and should be sent to the archives.

He said the decision “is effectively a veto of the projected six-month extension of the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of CARP, which excluded compulsory acquisition of private lands.”

Lagman is principal author of Bill 4077, which seeks to extend CARP for five more years. The measure appropriates P100 billion for support services.

Because senators and congressmen could not agree on the details of the proposed extension, they agreed to pass a Senate-proposed joint resolution extending the program up to June 30 this year.

The plan is for them to finally decide within six months what to do with the land distribution program, which the late President Marcos started during martial law.

Lagman has urged Mrs. Arroyo to veto or reject the joint resolution extending CARP since it did not include compulsory acquisition and distribution of the remaining 1.3 million hectares of land covered by CARP.

Under the resolution, land distribution is voluntary on the part of landowners.

The measure becomes a law if the President signs. If she does not sign it, the measure also becomes a law provided she does not veto it within 30 days from the date it was sent to Malacañang, or by Jan. 22. The second case is what is described as allowing it to lapse into law.

But Lagman said this could no longer resurrect CARP because there is no more program or land distribution to extend.

“Once the deadline sought to be extended has expired, no belated extension could be effected,” the Albay congressman, who is a lawyer, said.

He said the joint resolution could only be allowed to “lapse into law” if there is sufficient time before such deadline.

He pointed out that if the President wanted the joint resolution to become law, she could have signed it before the expiration of CARP and should not have decided not to act on it until it lapses into law.

“The joint resolution now belongs to the archives of failed measures and the legislative process is ripe for the enactment of Bill 4077, which includes compulsory land acquisition and distribution,” he stressed.

According to Rep. Risa Hontiveros, a co-author of Bill 4077, the 1.3 million hectares of agricultural lands covered by CARP but have not been distributed to their tenant-tillers include three large haciendas owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in Negros Occidental.

Last month, the Arroyo family’s tenants marched to the House to lobby for the extension of CARP so the land they have been tilling for years could finally be distributed to them.

They said they met with Mrs. Arroyo in 2001 and that she promised them that CARP would make them owners of the land.

“But her promise has remained just that – a promise,” a spokesman for the farmers said.

Hontiveros said the approval of the joint resolution was the triumph of landowners among senators and congressmen.

AFP revamp due next week with retirement of PAF, NCRCOM chiefs By Jaime Laude Updated January 04, 2009 12:00 AM

Major changes in the command core of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are set to take effect early this month with the scheduled retirement of two senior officers holding key military positions next week.

Maj. Gen. Arsenio Arugay, chief of the military’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM) is hanging his uniform a month ahead of his mandatory retirement age of 56 on Feb. 9.

The new commanding general of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog is also retiring next week with Malacañang announcing his immediate replacement.

Arugay and Cadungong are both members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1975.

Still in the United States, Arugay, the former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), confirmed yesterday that he is retiring early to give qualified officers the chance to go up the organizational ladder.

While there was no official announcement yet on Arugay’s replacement, insiders pointed to Lt. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, the incumbent commander of the 10th Infantry Division based in Davao, as the successor.

Fojas, who is also the incumbent president of the General Court-Martial trying the officers in the failed February 2006 mutiny, belongs to PMA Class of 1976 like AFP chief Gen. Alexander Yano.

Insiders said the turnover of command at NRCOM would come right after an annual security briefing of President Arroyo next week.

Fojas’ replacement as 10th Division commander is yet to be known but sources said Arugay and Cadungog’s retirement and the promotion of Fojas would trigger major movements in key military positions.

Cadungog earlier said at least four Air Force officers are now vying for the PAF top post that he would be vacating on Friday next week.

He named them as Air Force Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Legaspi, Maj. Gen. Hernanie Perez, Maj. Rolando Capacia and Maj. Gen. Oscar Rabena.

Legaspi and Perez are also members of PMA Class 1976, Capacia is a direct commission officer and a graduate of the PAF Flying School while Rabena is a member of PMA Class 1978, the same class that adopted President Arroyo as honorary member.

“We expect major changes not only in the NCRCOM and in the Air Force but in the AFP command core with the retirement of General Cadungog and General Arugay,” a Camp Aguinaldo insider said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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