Bishops told: CARP extension a wrong Gospel for social justice
The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday warned Roman Catholic bishops that their support to the extension of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) could be a wrong Gospel for social justice that they would soon regret as church leaders.
“For 20 years CARP was at the epicenter of the government’s land reform program, which resulted to widespread denial of peasant land rights and across-the-country agrarian reform reversals. Extending this bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord land reform escapade is like prolonging the agony of millions of landless peasants,” the group said in a press statement.
Pamalakaya issued the statement a day after the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines announced that it would have a dialogue with the senators on March 16 to work out for the passage of CARP extension with reforms.
“Twenty years of fake land reform program is enough. The Catholic bishops should have learned their lessons well about the inutility and bankruptcy of CARP. For two decades, this land reform program peppered with loopholes and fatal flaws further entrenched landlord power and landlordism in the countryside, and any move to extend and breed the same kind of banana is nothing but a defeatist move and extreme retrogression,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
The Pamalakaya leader said his group and staunch allies Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the agricultural labor group Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the peasant women federation Amihan are not supporting the proposed CARP extension with reform bills currently filed in the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate.
Instead the fisherfolk group and its allies are throwing their support to the controversial House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.
Pamalakaya’s Hicap asserted that GARB is the real social justice piece of legislation compared to the bankrupt CARP extension with reform bills pending in both houses of Congress.
Hicap said the meat of GARB is free land distribution, unlike in CARP extension with reform bills, the farmers will still be subjected to payment of monthly amortization, that in case they failed to pay their outstanding debts or obligations to the government, the awarded lands will be reverted back to the government, or to landlord or to any private entities interested in acquiring the land.
“In CARP extension with reforms, farmers will still be subjected to rigorous payment of lands awarded to them and would continue essaying their feudal roles as CARP beneficiary paying clients of the present landlord which is the government,” the Pamalakaya leader said.
Pamalakaya said an example would be the 153-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental currently owned by the Arroyos. Under the CARP extension with reform (CARPer), if even the lands are awarded to farmers, the beneficiaries will continue to pay monthly amortization, and in case they failed their obligations, the lands would be reverted back to the state, which has the right to sell the lands back to the Arroyos or to any private interest.
“Is that land reform? No it is not. That is real estate business,” the group said.
Pamalakaya said under GARB or House Bill 3059, the 153-hectares of the Arroyos will be classified as sullied lands, meaning lands acquired through dubious, corrupt and forcible means, and therefore would be subjected to outright coverage, compulsory acquisition without compensation to the Arroyos and free distribution to landless farmers of Hacienda Bacan.
The militant group also said the one-year indefeasibility period in CARPer was a either a misnomer or an intentional provision to allow big landlords to maneuver. Under CARPer, the titles of lands awarded to the farmer beneficiaries could no longer be questioned once the landlords in dispute failed to challenge the acquirement of lands by the farmers.
“Landlords as proven by history always question the farmers’ insistence of their land rights twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and 360 days a year. This indefeasibility provision of CARPer is meant to allow landlords to stop any kind of land acquisition and distribution,” said Pamalakaya.
But under GARB, the farmers become the rightful person to till, explore and benefit from the land in the name of free land distribution and social justice, and any dispute or question about the land will be the official business of the state and the landlord as parties, totally liberating the farmers from any kind of hassle or problems. #