Nationwide rallies set against extension of CARP

DAY OF OUTRAGE AGAINST CARPer lies and deceptions
Nationwide rallies set against extension of CARP

Farmer groups in 57 provinces and 15 sub-regional formations all over the country this week will stage a nationally coordinated protest against the looming passage of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms (CARPer) according to the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said on June 4, regional and provincial chapters of Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan national federation of peasant women will join his group in an across-the-nation mass action against what they called “A National Day of Outrage Against CARPer Lies and Deceptions”

“On June 4, the landlord dominated Congress in conspiracy with pseudo farmer groups and apologists of the bogus of CARPer will be condemned to the highest level by tens of thousands rural people whose interest were betrayed and sacrificed for the nth rime around by the extension of the fake, anti-farmer and pro-landlord land reform program,” the KMP leader said.

Ramos said anti-CARPer protest actions will be participated by farmers from Bataan, Zambales, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Pangasinan in Central Luzon, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, all in Ilocos provinces, Abra and Benguet in Cordillera, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon in Southern Tagalog, Camarines Sur, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate in Bicol Region.

The KMP leader said anti-CARPer protests will also be held in Davao City, Digos City in Davao del Sur, General Santos City and Sarangani, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Butuan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Tacloban City in Leyte, Bacolod City in Negros Oriental, Dumaguete City in Negros Occidental, Iloilo City in Iloilo, Kalibo City in Aklan, Cebu City, Tagbilaran City in Bohol to cite a few.

In Manila, Ramos said some 2,000 farmers and fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon provinces will arrive on June 3 and will hold a vigil at the gates of the House of Representatives. The following day, the protesters will hold a peasant caravan against CARPer and for the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) from Batasan to the Department of Agrarian of Reform in Quezon City.

From DAR, the farmers will march to Mendiola where they will burn 1,500 copies of CARPer to symbolize their outrage against the passage of the law what will extend CARP to another five years.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said even if Congress retains the compulsory acquisition and the land acquisition and distribution provision under CARPer, the extended land reform program will remain nothing but toothless tiger, totally empty and extremely ridiculous.

“The proponents of CARPer are hiding big, big secrets to the farmers who are made to believe that the extension of the 21-year old bogus land reform program will result to compulsory acquisition and land acquisition and distribution of some 1.2 million hectares of agricultural lands to farmer beneficiaries,” he said.

Perfecting amendments

One of the perfecting amendments proposed under CARPer is the phasing of land acquisition and distribution, which requires the government to cover 50 hectares and above without prejudice to the coverage of lands below 50 hectares, after an accomplishment report of 90 percent per province.

“While it sounds good at face value, it is meaningless in substance. Why? Because it would be hard to do so since majority of lands of up to 50 hectares and above are locked in various disputes in many regular courts across-the-country, including quasi judicial courts like DARAB (DAR adjudicatory board). The DAR is a willing hostage to these agrarian disputes and it will not act on cases where there are legal problems. So the so-called LAD and compulsory acquisition are nothing but useless entities under CARPer,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Another perfecting amendment to CARPer, which KMP and Pamalakaya described as extremely anti-farmer is the leaseback arrangement scheme wherein lands already awarded to land reform beneficiaries could be re-acquired by the former landowners and corporations through leaseback agreements.

“The purpose of this amendment is to provide venue for landlords and corporations to re-acquire and regain control of lands. The CARPer is allowing big landlords to retake and landgrab lands through the dubious leaseback arrangements,” Hicap stressed.

For her part, Kasama-TK (Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan) spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said another perfecting amendment to CARPer which will be sneaked is the institutionalization of commercial farm plantations will which further empower landlords and agro-corporations to refuse coverage of their lands by declaring them farm plantations for commercial and export activities.

Lacandazo said the provision in CARPer which allows the compensation to landowners and increasing the down payment from the present 25% to 30% to 50 percent revealed the real intent of CARPer which is to retain is “milking cow” orientation of landlords and other landed estate entities across the country.

“CARPer is nothing but a real estate transaction between the state and the landlords. This is one of the insertions and cruel intentions of this bogus land reform bill that seeks to prolong the life of this comatose land reform program,” she said.

According to Pamalakaya, the CARPer perfecting amendment declaring farmers as habitual squatters and making them criminally liable will be exploited and abused by landlords and big agro corporations to deny peasant land rights and evict them from farm lands.

Afraid of GARB?

The KMP, Pamalakaya and other pro-GARB groups challenged the peasant groups identified with the CARPer bloc to withdraw their support to the extension bill and instead shift their agrarian reform advocacy to the controversial bill authored by the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela Women’s Party list Reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

“Are they afraid of the GARB? There’s nothing wrong about HB 3059. GARB cannot go wrong because it real agenda is to achieve social justice for the farmers across the country,” they said.

Kasama-TK said the issues raised and ranged against the Beltran bill like constitutionality, just compensation, due process etc. etc were clearly addressed by the authors and resource persons during the hearing.

“If Chairman Rep. Elias Bulut (Apayao) and members of the House committee on agrarian reform are not afraid, they should prove it by preparing and signing a committee report and bring it to the plenary for a major political debate and showdown,” the group added.

KMP, Pamalakaya and Kasama-TK recalled that in 1993, Sentra, a non-government organization together with other farmer groups conducted a preliminary assessment of CARP from 1988 to 1993, and one of the striking results of program was revealed— a total of 10,958 certificate of land transfers (CLTs), 9,133 EPs and 2,303 CLOAs were cancelled by DAR covering 32, 041 hectares of prime agricultural lands affecting over 22,000 CARP beneficiaries.

“In fact, CARP led to stories of land reform reversals from 1993 up to present with the thousands of cases of land titles having been cancelled or rebuked by DAR to pave way for across-the-country land use conversions that went on full speed ahead in the 90s,”the groups said.

KMP and Pamalakaya cited the case of farmers in Southern Tagalog which said that from 1994 up to 2007, about 1,302,375 hectares of prime agricultural lands have been placed by DAR under conversion and such terrible act led to the massive land reform reversals with the cancellation of land titles all over the region.

During the same period, they said around 173,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands in the region have been already converted for commercial purposes; leaving tens of thousands of supposed to be CARP beneficiaries landless.

“This is the kind of sham land reform which CARP had offered and would still offer to poor farmers and rural people all over the country if Congress passes this shotgun, double bladed piece of legislation”, the groups added. #

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