The KMP has determined that this provision undermines the intent of any agrarian-reform program.
He said this very provision was used by the Cojuangcos of Tarlac to spare the nearly 6,500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita from land distribution. Instead of actual land distribution, the farmers were given shares of the company under the stock-distribution option. But far from making the farmers instant millionaires, the stock options instead denied the farmers and farmworkers from owning a piece of the Hacienda Luisita lands that they have been tilling for more than five decades. This is precisely the kind of feudal setup that a genuine agrarian reform program ought to break.
On the island of Negros, other stock-option and joint-venture schemes by Eduardo Cojuangco are prevalent, particularly in Pontevedra, La Carlota City, La Castellana and Himamaylan City.
New Form of Feudal Exploitation
Landlords who did give up their land “profited immensely” from the implementation of CARP, a study by the Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo found out.
Citing data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, the study revealed that from 1972 to 2005, the compensation to 83,203 landowners for 1,348,758 hectares reached P41.6 billion in cash and bonds, or an average of P 500,463 per landlord. In 2005, P4.6 billion went to the compensation of landlords.
The staggering payments to landlords can be traced partly to the practice by landlords to go to the courts to seek “just compensation” whenever they are not satisfied with the valuation by the DAR and Land Bank of the Philippines of their property.
On the other hand, supposed beneficiaries ended up with the short end of the stick. Mariano said that CARPER will result in more cancellations of certificate of land transfer (CLTs), certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs) and emancipation patents (EPs) as farmer-beneficiaries would be unable to pay for land amortization.
He said that, on average, the cost of agricultural lands is pegged at P235,00 per hectare. “With six percent interest and land tax, farmers would find it hard to pay for amortization,” Mariano said.
He called land amortization as a new form of feudal exploitation. “Amortization constantly increases,” he said. Mariano said that if a farmer failed to pay three annual amortizations, his land is foreclosed and will most likely end up in the hands of rich landowners. This leads, he said, to the reconcentration of land to the few landlords.
In fact, the DAR reported in 2007 that 5,049 EPs and 103,092 CLOAs were already canceled involving 204,579 hectares of land. The figure does not include pending cases of cancellation.
The DAR figures are way below the results of the study of independent think tank Ibon Foundation that said that by the middle of 2004 alone, more than 2,000 EPs and CLOAs covering 380,000 hectares of land were canceled.
Mariano said he expects a worse version of CARPER at the bicameral conference. “I am certain that landlord-legislators will want to insert more anti-farmer provisions,” he said.
The Senate already passed on third reading Senate Bill (SB) 2666 or “An Act Strengthening CARP.” In a statement, Ibon described the bill as worse than the original version as it represents a concession to big private landed interests.
“The bill, for instance, allows previous landowners to reacquire and reconsolidate their landholdings after the 10-year retention period,” Ibon said.
Ibon said the bill reduced the CARP into real-estate transaction as it retains non-land transfer schemes like the SDO. Also retained is the provision for voluntary land transfers that requires farm workers and small farmers to pay spot cash to the landowners at market value – an impossible imposition on poor farmers who can hardly even make ends meet.
The Senate version also only targets distribution of lands to only 400,000 farmer-beneficiaries even as there are still 1.6 million farmers awaiting land reform, excluding the millions still awaiting land awarded them and those whose lands have been sequestered due to indebtedness.
Ibon added that even as SB 2666 retains compulsory land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component, it also upholds the same provisions that allow landowners to skirt around CARP coverage.
Mariano said they will continue to demand the junking of the CARP extension.
The farmers led by KMP will hound with protests every step leading to the ratification of CARPER as they continue to push for the passage of a genuine agrarian reform bill.
“Free distribution of land should be the central characteristic of a truly social justice measure,” Mariano said.
In the meantime, Mariano said the peasants have to continue relying on themselves in the struggle for genuine land reform in the countryside. (Bulatlat.com)