Among other provisions, the CARPER bill mandates that private agricultural lands – the type that the Arroyos and the Cojuangcos own – can only be distributed if the original CARP managed to distribute 90 percent of its target. But CARP, despite the two decades it had, only distributed less than half of it. It’s an impossible provision that only underscores what progressive farmers have been saying all along – that CARPER is bogus.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – It seemed incongruous, the sight of farmers marching toward Mendiola, carrying placards and chanting angry words against the extension of a law that purports to emancipate them from the bondage of the land.
But to the farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), who marched in Manila last week but were met with water cannons from the police even before they could set foot on the historic bridge where many of them had died fighting for land reform, the passage on June 3 of House Resolution 4077 was as much a cause for indignation as the landlessness that prevails in the countryside.
HR 4077, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill, extends for another five years the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
As far as the farmers are concerned, the CARPER bill, far from solving the problems of farmers, will be even worse than the original CARP.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Anakpawis Representative and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said certain provisions in the CARPER bill will aggravate the farmers’ fundamental problem of landlessness and will only strengthen the land monopoly of a few.
“A Congress that represents the class interest of landlords and big local and foreign corporations can, unsurprisingly, railroad an ultimately anti-farmer legislation like the CARP extension bill,” Mariano said.
Under the bill, the landholdings of the Arroyos, the Cojuangcos and other landlords will remain untouched. He believes that, precisely for this reason, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued the marching orders to her allies in Congress to pass the bill. “She certified it as urgent,” Mariano said.
Lands covered by CARPER will be acquired and distributed in three phases.
Phase One will cover rice and corn lands, all idle lands or abandoned lands, all private lands voluntarily offered by the owners for agrarian reform, all lands foreclosed by government financial institutions, all lands acquired by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, and all other lands owned by government devoted to or suitable for agriculture.
Phase Two of the program will cover all alienable and disposable public agricultural lands; all arable public agricultural lands under agro-forest, pasture and agricultural leases already cultivated and planted to crops in accordance with Section 6 Article XIII of the Constitution; all public agricultural lands that are to be opened for new development and resettlement; all private agricultural lands in excess of 50 hectares.
Phase Three will cover all other private agricultural lands starting with large landholdings and then those with medium and small landholding.
Mariano said that under CARPER, private agricultural lands can only be covered by the law and distributed to farmers if 90 percent of all the land classified for distribution under the original CARP and Phase One and Phase Two of CARPER had been distributed. In other words, before CARPER can implement Phase Three, which is the most problematic phase, the original CARP must have distributed 90 percent of its target and, if it did not, CARPER’s Phase One and Phase Two must make up for the shortfall — within the period of five years.
This, Mariano said, is next to impossible and is the biggest defect of CARPER.
Mariano said that the original CARP failed — despite running for more than two decades — to achieve even half of its target, let alone 90 percent. “When will that happen?” Mariano asked. “In effect, no private agricultural lands will ever be distributed under the CARP extension.”
CARPER, he said, is designed to fail.
According to data from Mariano’s group, CARP managed to cover only 43 percent of all agricultural lands in the country in those 20 years. How can the CARPER, Mariano asked, improve that distribution to 90 percent in just five years? Mariano asked.
Based on 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 — 3. 8 million hectares of land have been acquired and distributed by the DAR and another 2.4 million hectares distributed through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Of these, however, government data show that only 1.9 million hectares of private agricultural land has been distributed since 1988. And KMP said that 82 percent of these private agricultural land still have pending cases and that no actual or physical land distribution took place.