Under CARP, the scope for land distribution had been eroded from time to time. From the original 10.3 million hectares in 1988, the scope was cut down by 21.76 percent to 8.1 million hectares in 1995. The revisions resulted from executive issuances, administrative orders, Supreme Court rulings, and amendments to the law.
No Expansion of Coverage
Mariano said that the progressive party-list bloc in Congress proposed amendments to the bill during the second reading but the sponsors and the majority flatly rejected their proposals.
“We were pushing for a more encompassing coverage of the land reform program. Specifically, we wanted to delete provisions that exempted agricultural lands for CARP coverage, but they rejected it,” Mariano said.
Agricultural lands exempted and excluded from CARP coverage include lands used for parks, wildlife, forest reserves, reforestation, fish sanctuaries and breeding grounds, watershed and mangroves; private lands actually, directly and exclusively used for prawn farms and fishponds; and lands actually, directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for national defense, school sites and campuses and all lands with 18 percent slope and over.
Mariano said that instead of expanding the coverage of land reform program, the landlords/legislators in Congress added provisions that will exempt more agricultural land from coverage to include land devoted to aquaculture, livestock, swine raising and the like.
Under CARPER, landowners will have cause to file more petitions for exemptions before the DAR.
CARP allows multinational corporations to maintain their control and operation of vast tracts of agricultural lands through lease, management, grower or service contracts for a period of 25 years and renewable for another 25 years. This provision allowed transnational corporations such as Dole and Del Monte to control 220,000 hectares of agricultural lands devoted for export crops.
During the second reading, Mariano proposed the distribution of land controlled and leased by multinational corporations – in effect the deletion of this provision that favors foreign companies. He was ignored — CARPER will retain this same provision.
Mariano said Anakpawis, together with Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party and Kabataan, also proposed the deletion of Section 65 of the bill regarding the conversion of lands already awarded to farmers.
It said that after five years from the land’s award, “when the land ceases to be economically feasible and sound for agricultural purposes, or the locality has become urbanized and the land will have greater economic value for residential, commercial or industrial purposes,” the DAR, upon the application of the beneficiary or the landowner and with due notice to the present landowner, may reclassify or convert the land and dispose it.
Mariano said the retention of this provision from the original law will pave the way for more cases of land-use conversion. The conversion of land to other uses is one of the methods used by landowners to go around CARP.
DAR records show that in the first seven years of CARP, an estimated 33,707 hectares of agricultural lands were converted into other uses. By the end of 1997, conversion has covered 59, 965 hectares of agricultural lands.
The report of the National Statistics Office is more telling. In 2002, the NSO reported that 827, 892 hectares of lands have been converted to other uses.
Non-Land Transfer Schemes
Mariano also proposed the deletion of the so-called non-land transfer schemes in the definition of agrarian reform as stated in Section 3 of the bill.
CARP gives option to landowners to choose “all other arrangements alternative to the physical distribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration, and distribution of shares of stocks which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work.”