“We want to know the landlords who benefited from the DAP, what and where are the lands covered.” – Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called for an independent probe on the reported P7.2 billion ($166.82 million) Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds funneled by the Aquino administration to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
In recent reports, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that in 2011, P5.4 billion ($125.12) of DAP went to the compensation of landlords, which was administered by the DAR and in 2012, P1.8 billion ($41.71 million) of the DAP funded the DAR’s “Tulay ng Pangulo” program.
Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) http://www.dar.gov.ph/ra-6657-what-is-carp-comprehensive-agrarian-reform-program and its extension law, landlords shall be paid compensation for the land.
Antonio Flores, KMP secretary general, said, “We want to know the landlords who benefited from the DAP, what and where are the lands covered.”
The KMP deemed that the P7.2-billion ($166.82 million) DAP channeled by the Aquino government to the DAR “went to corruption,” citing the DAR’s failure to distribute private agricultural lands.
In 2011, out of the 120,286-hectare land distribution accomplishment of the DAR, only 12,515 hectares were under compulsory acquisition. In 2012, out of the 115,124 hectares allegedly distributed, only 9,826 hectares were under compulsory acquisition. This means that only 9.49 percent of the lands distributed during the period were private agricultural lands.
“The DAR’s accomplishment report on land distribution in 2011 and 2012 provides evidence that billions of DAP money went to corruption,” Flores said.
“The huge budgetary allocation, the dismal accomplishment on land distribution, and the technical malversation of billions of public funds through the DAP shows that the DAR and the government’s agrarian reform program are milking cows of big landlords and corrupt bureaucrats,” Flores said.
“The additional funds for landlord compensation and the Tulay ng Pangulo program, despite the huge budgetary allocations in the previous years (2011-2012), are highly questionable,” Flores said.
The funds from DAP, according to KMP, were on top of the P10.2 billion ($236.34 million) budget for land acquisition and distribution (LAD) and P4 billion ($92.68 million) budget for the ‘Tulay ng Pangulo’ program in 2011 and P9.4 billion budget ($217.80 million) for LAD and a more than P2 billion ($46.34 million) budget for the ‘Tulay ng Pangulo’ in 2012.
“The DAR’s own figures concretely belie Malacañang’s claim that Abad and the DAP saved the country from financial ruin,” the peasant leader said.
“Obviously, under the Aquino administration, big landlords, like the Cojuangco-Aquinos, corrupt bureaucrats, and bogus NGOs are feasting over agrarian reform and DAP funds while farmers continue to suffer from landlessness,” Flores said.
In a related development, independent think-tank Ibon Foundation also slammed the Aquino administration’s low accomplishment in land distribution.
IBON noted that private agricultural lands comprised 95 percent of the Republic Act (RA) 9700 or CARPER’s balance, 75 percent of which are plantation and hacienda-type farms in 25 provinces nationwide. On the fourth year of the official signing of CARPER, only 30 percent or 381,393 hectares of land have been distributed from its original balance of 1.281 million hectares in July 2009.
Ibon said such record shows that “Filipino farmers are left out of the so-called inclusive growth touted by President Aquino in his Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) speech.”
Aquino recently reported to business leaders in the APEC CEO summit in Indonesia that the Philippine economy is on the track of inclusive growth due to sound economic policies and good governance. Ibon, however, said that any claim to inclusive growth should involve fast-paced distribution of land to farmers, especially in an agricultural country.
“The Philippines virtually has the longest-running and poorest-performing land reform program in history,” the research said. “Its Asian neighbors such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and China, for instance, broke up landholdings and distributed lands swiftly in the first five to ten years of their land reforms with minimal landlord compensation.”