Farmers protest CARP, pushes for GARB

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — Farmers under the banner of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the national alliance of farmers organizations, reiterate that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is a sham and asserts the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed by progressive partylist representatives.

Danggayan dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan Valley, the KMP chapter in Cagayan Valley, said in a statement that CARP has failed to give farmers land to till. The group pointed out that a huge chunk of agricultural lands remains in the hands of landlords and big agribusiness corporations.

“This is the most solid evidence that the CARP failed,” the statement read.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Cagayan Valley in a separate statement said that “CARP is the most deceptive, longest-running, most expensive, and bloodiest agrarian reform program”. The group said that what actually transpired in the 26 years of CARP is the buy-and-sell transaction between the government, the DAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the supposed farmer beneficiary.

Bayan Cagayan Valley reiterated that in the 26 years of CARP implementation vast haciendas remain intact and undistributed that include Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Hacienda San Antonio-Santa Isabel in Isabela, Hacienda Madrigal in Cagayan, Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Roxas in Batangas, Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, the vast haciendas in Bondoc Peninsula, Negros, and the Dole and Del Monte farms in Mindanao, among others.

“The continuing land monopoly and control of a few landlord families shows that the bogus CARP was not meant to break land monopoly and was instead implemented only to appease peasant unrest in the countryside and to create an illusion of land reform,” the Bayan statement read.

Bayan pointed out that the government has spent so much public funds on its “bogus” land reform program that started under the Operation Land Transfer under the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ term.

From 1972 to June 2005, total approved Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) compensation to 83,203 landowners for only 1.3 million hectares has already reached P41.6 billion in cash and bonds, or an average of P500,463 per landlord, according to Bayan.

For 26 years, DAR has spent 342 billions. The five-year extension of CARP or CARPER, (2009-2014) has a P150-billion budgetary allocation. The latest CARPER bill now filed by Aquino’s allies in Congress, (2014-2015) has a staggering allocation of P150 billion for 2 years.

Bayan and Danggayan further reiterated that the government’s “bogus” agrarian reform is coupled by human rights violations and countless cases of massacre of peasants asserting their rights to the land – the Escalante massacre in Negros, Mendiola Massacre, and Hacienda Luisita massacre, the extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances among others.

Danggayan said that in Cagayan they continue to demand justice for the extra-judicial killing of peasant leaders that include Warlito Nagasao of Bayan Muna-Echague; Madonna Castillo of Anakpawis-Isabela; Arthur Orpilla, Dionisio Battad, Joey Javier, Anthony Licyayo of Kagimungan; Vicente Valenzuela and Rosita Labuguen of DAGAMI-Echague; Baby Mendiola and Ric Balaoag, Engr Jake Soriano of BAYAN-Muna Isabela; Ben Chinangan and Junior Ponce from Matusalem Roxas. The group also condemned the recent attempted killing of Alex Madriaga of Anakpawis-Allacapan Cagayan.

Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., chair of the house committee on agrarian reform in a separate interview said that the notion that the CARP ended June 30 is wrong saying that DAR services to farmers will continue. He added that a the bill for the extension of the issuance of notices of coverage (NOC) was already passed at the committee level. He said the bill is already certified by President Benigno Aquino III but did not meet the deadline.

Baguilat admitted that there are still vast agricultural lands that need to be distributed and that many of these are haciendas owned by big landlords with political clans. He also admitted that there is a strong opposition to the land distribution from legislators who belong to political clans who own vast haciendas. “It really requires political will to finish the land distribution program with in the term of the president,” he stressed.

Baguilat aside from the fact that many agricultural lands are not yet covered by CARP, there are also instances where despite the issuance of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) farmers are still barred from occupying the lands.

Danggayan, however, reiterates that the issuance of NOCs through CARP extension will only give farmers false hope. “CARP and the issuance of NOCs is not land distribution,” the group said.

The Cagayan farmers’ group pointed to Hacienda Luisita as an example where they said that farmers in Balete and Cut-cut villages are still deprived of the 258 hectares of agricultural land despite the issuance of NOC in December 2013.

The group also disclosed that in the haciendas in Isabela and Cagayan, titles are not awarded to farmers even after they paid for their amortization. These include Hacienda San Antonio-Santa Isabel, Hacienda Sandoval, Hacienda Madrigal, sa Hacienda Hawkins, Hacienda Pallagao, Hacienda Intal among others.

Danggayan urged congress not to extend CARP and pass the GARB instead. The group said GARB aims to erase the monopoly of landlords over agricultural lands and to nationalize the free distribution of agricultural lands to farmers.

“We assert free distribution of agricultural lands to farmers. The end of CARP will mark another milestone in the people’s fight for genuine land reform and national democracy,” the Danggayan statement said.

Baguilat said his committee is looking into the GARB.

Thousands of farmers from the Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Cordillera, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and National Capital Region started marching on June 25 and converged at the DAR central office on June 30 reiterating their opposition to the CARP and call for genuine agrarian reform. The farmers ended their week long activity with a program at Mediola Bridge in Manila. # nordis.net

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