Aquino’s final approval on the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) confirms his pro-landlord stance, and that he has no genuine interest in pursuing genuine land reform in favor of landless farmers.
Peasant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) condemned President Aquino for certifying the bill as urgent, insisting that the program did not lead to genuine land distribution and in fact, it increased the number of leasehold farmers nationwide.
Landless farmers mostly from Southern Tagalog island provinces say that they have been involved in CARP-related disputes in pushing for an end to the program.
KMP Chairman Rafael Mariano says that Aquino’s certification as urgent of House Bill (HB) 4296 is the landlord President’s belated attempt to push for the bill’s implementation for his fellow landlords in Congress.
HB 4296 looks to extend CARP for another two years by allowing the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to issue notices of coverage (NOC) up to June 30, 2016.
Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap though says that continuing CARP will be a “grand disservice and betrayal to landless Filipino farmers who are demanding for a new and genuine agrarian [reform],”
For the past 26 years, CARP allowed the concentration of vast areas of lands to big landowners and as a result, deprived millions of farmers of lands of their own to till.
“CARP as amended by CARPER law was a total failure in emancipating landless peasants from the bondage of the soil they till.” Hicap added.
It is apparent that CARP, along with other pro-foreign and pro-landlord policies upheld by the previous and current administrations has resulted to the continuing underdevelopment of local agriculture and impoverishment of farmers.
It also raises to question DAR’s motives for the anti-farmer policy, and if it does in fact, have a pro-landlord agenda.
DAR Secretary Gil Delos Reyes says that he supported CARP’s extension because it would be impossible to issue NOCs even on privately held lands.
It is well worth noting though that Delos Reyes is an appointee and ally of President Aquino, and the positive praises heard about him on the news generally come from Aquino’s supporters and cronies in government, media and academia.