Statement on CARP Extension

Former Political Detainee
Indang, Cavite
Posted by Bulatat

I was released from prison almost in time for the expiration of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that paved a crossroad to the majority of farming sectors in the country.

Anent the current raging discourse on Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill proposed by Anakpawis versus extension of CARP backed by some farmers’ groups funded by pro-landlord technocrats, government instrumentalities and the CBCP, as an agriculturist who chose to devote more than a decade of my life into grassroots organizing instead of spending my time in big agro-corporations doing ivory tower research, which I believe remains inaccessible to its intended beneficiary, I have been provided with enough reasons to side with the total scrapping of CARP and against extension of the existing sham land reform program.

Data from a series of agrarian case consultations done by 10 provincial chapters of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog) show that land monopoly in the said region remains rampant and seven out of every 10 farmers stand landless, in spite of 20 years of CARP.

In Batangas, 71,813 hectares of agricultural lands are still under the control of 91 big landlords; while in Quezon province there are 211 landlords owning over 561,626 hectares of farmlands.

In my home province of Cavite, land and crop use conversion became commonplace after CARP was implemented in 1988. My memory of an agricultural Cavite, 20 years ago, remains very clear in spite of the seemingly endless encroachment of industrial and commercial complexes, golf courses and high-end residential subdivisions into the once verdant fields of my province.

I cannot blame the farmers who still pin their hopes on the extension and revival of CARP, despite the barefaced exploitation by the personalities behind their groups because these people are essentially pro-landlords and/or landlords themselves that expect million of pesos of funds if CARP is extended.

Whatever happened to the farmers that marched some 1,200 kilometers? Promises stay etched on their calloused feet, while the pseudo-farmers’ group and non-government organizations (NGOs) that orchestrated the march benefited from the sacrifices of the farmers.

And what happened to the farmers who never depended on CARP but continuously assert for a genuine land reform program? Bitter experience taught them lessons, one of which is that instead of waiting endlessly for CARP implementation or coverage, they decisively installed themselves and tilled the land and kept it productive – an active defense of the agricultural lands that is always threatened by monopoly, “development” and conversion.

Hence, while those exploited farmers wait interminably for CARP extension, farmers under the militant peasant movement in the country are already harvesting fruits of their labor.

We should put an end to the debate. Let us not further exploit the farmers. Let us work with them – not mislead them – for a genuine agrarian reform. Posted

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