Rough Sailing Expected for Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill

Why not CARP or CARP extension?

Mariano said that the extension or the re-enactment of CARP even in the form of a new bill is not the solution to the problem of landlessness.

Citing the 2008 accomplishment report of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which covers the implementation of two agrarian reform programs, Presidential Decree No. 27 of former President Marcos and the CARP, only 3. 8 million hectares of land have been acquired and distributed. Mariano said that of these, 2.1 million hectares are private agricultural lands. This, he said, is insignificant considering the size of private agricultural lands.

In 1988, when the CARP was promulgated, Mariano said, there were 7.8 million hectares of private agricultural lands measuring 50 hectares and above. Citing data taken from the book “A Captive Land” written by James Putzel, Mariano said these big landholdings constitute 28.5 percent of existing private agricultural lands. These big landholdings, Mariano added, are owned by more than 7,000 landowners.

“Naiiwan ang malalaking ito, nandiyan ang maraming in-exempt sa CARP coverage,” (These big landholdings are still intact, most of them are exempted from CARP coverage.) he said. This means, Mariano asserted, that very few private lands been distributed through the CARP’s compulsory acquisition and distribution.

Mariano said the DAR failed to identify how many of the 50 hectares and above landholdings have been distributed to the farmer-beneficiaries.

“Even if you extend the CARP, supposing the DAR report is correct, 5.5 to 7.5 million hectares of private agricultural lands would remain outside the CARP coverage,” he explained.

Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill

He said the peasants are demanding for a genuine and thoroughgoing land reform program.

The progressive party list bloc, Mariano said, sides with the class interest of peasants in advancing their demand for land ownership. He said the GARB is a response to this demand, with free land distribution as the central goal and with the objective of dismantling land monopoly.

“Hindi pwedeng sabihin na ang mga nagtataguyod ng GARB ay anti-agrarian reform. Pro-agrarian reform, genuine pa nga, fundamental pa nga. Hindi nito sinasagkaan ang land acquistion and distribution,” (Those promoting the GARB could not be accused of being against agrarian reform. On the contrary, we are for agrarian reform, which is genuine and fundamental. The GARB does not place obstacles to land acquisition and distribution.) Mariano said.

Akbayan Party List Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel accused Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women’s Party as siding with the landlords when the latter voted against the CARP’s extension.

“Sobra at lampas pa nga sa hinihinging palamuting reporma ng Akbayan ang nilalaman ng GARB,” (The provisions of GARB go beyond what is being asked for by the token reforms of Akbayan.) he added.

He said that their call is for free land distribution within the framework of a genuine and thoroughgoing land reform program. They are not for defending CARP, which is bogus.

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