By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Joe Mol was harangued by two ladies when he commented that a proposed bill for a national land use act was “good”. When Joe says “good” about a proposed legal document like any lawyer, you’d better ask him what he means.
Like any proposed bill identified as urgent by Malacañang it must be well written else people would suspect it is not really favored or important to Malacañang and may simply be declared a forgery. After all, what are “all the kings men and all the kings horses” there for? Joe must have meant that.
The provisions of the proposed bill that was presented may not necessarily be advantageous to the indigenous peoples struggle in the country but nevertheless it was in good English, true to form and style, the kind of form that makes it look passable in both houses. If it is truly proposed in behalf of the nation, any development worker loyal to the masses would guard against “judging a book by its cover”, it is best that the proposed act be well scrutinized from the point of view of the progressive Filipino masses. And, not only from the revenue it may generate when the land is defined to be capital for generating profits for the government by the ruling elite.
Oh, Joe was honored after all the ladies throwing their reactions at him at the “Seminar-workshop on the national land use act, Implications for indigenous peoples” at the University of the Philippines last Tuesday, was lawyer Chit Daytec and former miss Philippines Maita Gomez. I am sure he enjoyed the position of being harassed that time.
Even if this proposed act was written with provisions to recognize and respect the indigenous peoples rights and ownership to their ancestral lands and ancestral domains, it has to also provide a guarding clause as “in accordance to the provisions of the Constitution and RA 8371…”. And, like the RA 8371, the application or the implementation of the law can be a completely different story. It may actually work against the interests of the people it professes to serve and draws mandate from.
It is still first and foremost that the citizens addressed by this proposed law have access and capacity to draw free and prior information about legal instruments, agreements and treaties that somehow will have or has bearing on their everyday lives before they can decide to support or amend any proposal intelligently.
Maybe because of the limited invitations, late access to copies of and better information on the proposed act, and limited background on the act, sponsors and speakers, this seminar workshop missed its target. It turned out for those present, to be more of a first encounter with the proposed act that has made participants ask for more information and background. Being a first encounter with the proposed act it is no wonder participants looked more concerned about the form, language, style and very general points than details of its provisions.
It is not right to just say better luck next time but maybe more appropriate to note that an activity like that adds more to the miseducation of the people than it is to inform, and that is terribly unfair, as in a top to bottom move. # nordis.net