Farmers Against Proposed Extension Of Agrarian Reform Law

by Ronalyn V. Olea

MANILA – United against the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reforms (CARPer), thousands of farmers marched toward Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge, June 30.

The protest marked the expiration of the CARPer. CARPer is the five-year extension of the original program, CARP, which was enacted by former President Corazon Aquino in 1988.

President Benigno Aquino III has certified a bill extending CARPer for another two years.

 

Farmers under the banner of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) oppose the proposed extension of the government’s agrarian reform.

Rafael Mariano, KMP chairman, said, “The bogus CARP is dead and it’s a total failure. After 26 years, vast haciendas remain intact, under the control of big landlords and agri-businesses, and the Filipino peasantry are still landless.”

Mariano said that nine out of ten farmers are still landless. He cited the data from Land Bank, which show that only 9.7 percent of agrarian reform beneficiaries have already paid their lands in full. Only 14.5 percent have been paying and 75.8 percent have not been paying.

Citing figures from independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, Mariano said lands “under leasehold arrangements increased from 582,476 hectares in 1988 to more than 1.7 million hectares in 2012. Some 1.2 million hectares are under agribusiness contracts.”

“This means that at the very least, there are some 2.9 million hectares of private agricultural lands that remain undistributed,” Mariano said.

The farmers travelled all the way from their provinces in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Bicol regions.

In the morning, the farmers blocked the gates of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and called on Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes to pack his things.

They then proceeded to Chino Roces bridge, a few meters away from Malacañang palace. As of press time, the farmers are still there. They vowed to hold a vigil until tomorrow morning.

Failures of CARP

Speaking at the program at the Chino Roces bridge, leaders of the KMP’s regional formations testified why they consider CARP and CARPer a failure.

Joseph Canlas, chairman of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) cited the cases of Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, the Aurora econzone project or Apeco, among others.

The AGML said CARP has been instrumental in enabling the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to maintain control of the 6,456-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac through the stock distribution option (SDO), which started in 1989. In 2004, the farmworkers staged strikes to oppose their miserable conditions under the SDO and resulted in the massacre of seven farmworkers.

On April 24, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a ruling ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworker-beneficiaries. Until now, however, farmers say the Cojuangco-Aquinos, with the help of DAR, are doing everything to control the land.

The AMGL said the CARP failed the Hacienda Dolores farmers. “The CARP was instrumental in displacing farmers from their lands in Hacienda Dolores in Porac town, Pampanga,” Canlas said. “DAR issued exemption and conversion orders for Hacienda Dolores lands. This gave private corporations the go signal to violently displace farmers and destroy their crops.”

The 2,000-hectare hacienda is being converted by Ayala Land as Alviera, an eco-residential and commercial estate similar to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

The AMGL added that the CARP has not guaranteed the rights of its supposed beneficiaries – farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples – in Aurora. Republic Act 10083 or the Aurora Pacific Economic and Freeport Zone (Apeco) will convert 13,000-hectares of agricultural land in Casiguran town in Aurora province for eco-tourism. “Apeco is there to serve the Angara family, to enable them to take control over the vast lands, as they did to many parts of the province. Clearly, CARP is a useless piece of paper, easily overridden by laws such as APECO,” Canlas said.

In Nueva Ecija, the AMGL said thousands of farmer-beneficiaries are facing cancellation of certificates of land ownership award (CLOA), certificates of land transfer (CLT), and emancipation patents (EP) and foreclosure cases such as at the 238.34-hectare Hacienda Rueda in San Andres I village, Quezon town; 455.33-hectares in Pulang Bahay village, Quezon town; 412-hectares in Bicos village, Rizal; 569.40-hectare Hacienda De Santos in Cacapasan village, Cuyapo; 822-hectares Pacac village, Guimba.

Farmers in Hacienda Gabaldon, Hacienda Kilantang and Hacienda Anggara meanwhile are facing ejectment cases filed by landowners in Sta. Rosa, Jaen, Cabanatuan City, San lsidro and other southern Nueva Ecija towns.

“CARPer is not just a gigantic historical failure but a man-made catastrophe to the farming sector of the region that deserves no legislated ‘resuscitation’ or revival but a natural death and an unmarked grave,” Canlas said.

The farmers of Southern Tagalog also said they suffered from CARP and CARPer.

Nestor Villanueva of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-Tk) cited the cancellation of the CLOA of farmers in the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna and in the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The same is true for the farmers of Cagayan Valley region. More than 200 farmers from Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan joined the protest in Manila.

Bino Abrogena of Danggayan Dagiti Manalon ti Cagayan Valley said farmers are facing foreclosure cases in the 13,000–hectare Hacienda San Antonio-Sta. Isabela and 3,000–hectare Hacienda Dimzon Zulueta. In Hacienda Lukban, more than a hundred farmers lost agrarian cases and are now being evicted from their land.

According to Danggayan, the DAR did not implement land distribution in Tumauini, Quirino, Cabagan and San Pablo to pave the way for the entry of big local and foreign sugar and cassava plantations.

The farmers group said that in Cagayan, landlords still control large tracts of land such as in Ramirez Estate, Arrance Estate, Catolico Estate, Burja Estate, Hawkins Estate, among others.

In Bicol, Bert Autor of KMP regional chapter said land-use conversion displaces farmers.

Autor cited the case of farmers in Pamplona, Hacienda Pua, Camarines Sur. He said the CLOA of 24 peasant-families tilling the 80-hectare land had been cancelled by DAR. “When they continued tilling the land, they were charged with forcible entry. Now, they have been evicted from their land,” Autor said in an interview.

Genuine agrarian reform

The farmers under the KMP reiterated calls for the enactment of a new, genuine and thoroughgoing land reform program as embodied in House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). (bulatlat.com)

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