By Andrea Lim
The Philippines’ agricultural system of production and productivity will only improve through the implementation of genuine land reform.
This comes into focus as President Aquino appointed former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
Evidently, this arrangement is only another political convenience for an Aquino ally out of power.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary-general Antonio Flores said Pangilinan’s appointment only creates another bureaucratic layer in the government’s agricultural portfolio.
It also makes it a clear sign that the farmers can’t expect a major change in the current agricultural trade liberalization policy of the Aquino administration.
IBON Foundation Executive Director Jose Enriquez Africa says that while farmers and farm workers suffer from poverty, agricultural transnational corporations continue to rake in profits.
Sad to say, Aquino’s agricultural trade liberalization policy has resulted in the country’s productivity decline. Aquino allots only 5.9 percent of the national budget to agriculture annually.
Facts on Agrarian Reform in the Philippines
- 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land have not been distributed to farmers despite the implementation of former President Cory Aquino’s agrarian reform in 1988.
- Cory Aquino signed RA no. 6657 otherwise known as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in her attempts to “equally distribute land among landless farmers.”
- CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) with Extension and Reforms is an extension of CARP that was passed in 2009 and still continues to deny farmers their rights to land.
- CARPER has proven to be anti-farmer, pro-landlord as reported by militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), especially in areas dominantly controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
- President Noynoy Aquino allots 6.9% of the national budget to the agriculture sector, which includes compensation for landlords for the land placed under CARPER.
- Land distribution under CARPER entails that land must be paid for by farmers under a given amount of time. Failure to do so will result in the confiscation of the said land and ineligibility of a farmer to acquire any more land.
- KMP details cases, particularly in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, where the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributes land by means of a ‘raffle.’ Land is often located in far-away barangays/towns, and occupied by another farmer, leading to dispute among them.
- Farmers in Hacienda Luisita have been continually assaulted by police and ‘goons’ under the private army of the Cojuangco-Aquinos, while the mainstream media continues to ignore their plight.
- KMP maintains their call for ‘genuine agrarian reform’ through the implementation of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).
- GARB ensures swift and free land distribution to landless farmers, nationalization of lands operated by transnational corporations and expropriation of commercial farms, confiscation of landholdings acquired through reprehensible schemes, and a comprehensive program for the protection of lands of beneficiaries and the promotion of cooperatives and support services.
Source: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas