Arroyos’ hacienda can be exempted from distribution under Carper law, critics say

Arroyos’ hacienda can be exempted from distribution under Carper law, critics say

The activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday said Republic Act 9700 or the CARPer (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms) law will enable the family of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to evade land distribution of its 157 hectare Hacienda in Negros Occidental.

In a joint press statement, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the CARP extension law provided a legal weapon for the Arroyos to escape the distribution of the 157 hectare Hacienda Bacan to farmer beneficiaries.

“The Arroyos cannot be compelled to place the 157 hectare Hacienda Bacan under compulsory acquisition because there is also a provision in Carper that landlords can range the Voluntary Offer to Sell provision against compulsory acquisition to defeat land distribution,” the two leaders explained.

Ramos and Hicap said aside from the voluntary offer to sell scheme, the Arroyos can avail of other non-land transfer schemes which are retained under Carper like the controversial Stock Distribution Option and corporative farming.

KMP said the Arroyos can also apply for the reclassification of their lands with the local government units so Hacienda Bacan could be exempted from the coverage of Carper and evade land distribution.

“Once the national land use policy of the government on land use conversion is approved and executed to pave way for bogus industrialization projects and agribusiness ventures, the 157 hectare Hacienda Bacan will be forever denied to the landless farmers and tenants of the Arroyo hacienda,” the farmer group said.

Pamalakaya said it is really impossible RA 9700 will lead to farmers’ acquisition of the 157 hectare Arroyo estate in Negros Occidental, saying those who are expecting that such would take place under Carper are harboring a 24-hour illusion.

“Those who are asking for distribution of Arroyo estate under Carper are talking to their own shadows and spearheading the Gospel of uncertainty and hallucination,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap added.

Hicap said the Arroyos can rake up huge proceeds if they decide to voluntary sell Hacienda Bacan to the government at the price they want.

“Let’s say the Arroyos decided to auction Hacienda Bacan at a maximum price of P 1 million per hectare, that would be P 157 million in cold cash. There is also a provision in Carper that the Arroyos can invest 50 percent of their earnings to the same Arroyo estate for agribusiness and that gives them the effective control over the lands they have sold to the national government. Is this social justice? No this is one big real estate racket,” said Pamalakaya.

Yesterday, President Arroyo went to the Plaridel, Bulacan to sign the Carper law before a jampacked crowd of farmer beneficiaries and agrarian reform officials and employees. But anti-Carper groups like KMP and Pamalakaya dismissed the signing as an across-the-nation tragedy for Filipino farmers.

The anti- Carper groups said RA 9700 is the most reactionary land reform law in the country that empowers the landlords and makes them the most powerful feudal lords in this side of the earth.

“Sa Carper, parang pinadadaan ang elepante sa butas ng karayom para lamang makakuha ng lupa ang magsasaka at iba pang benepisyaryo ng huwad na repormang pansakahan”, the groups stressed.

Anti-Carper groups asserted said Carper was the ultimate betrayal of peasant land rights in the country, noting the killer amendments included in the Senate Bill No.2666 were all included in the Carper law.

Among these controversial amendments were the phasing of land distribution coverage of 50 hectares and above, 24 hectares to 50 hectares, 10 hectares to 24 hectares and 5 hectares to 10 hectares which suggest 90 percent completion rate before the Department of Agrarian Reform could start the next phase, the promotion of agribusiness to save landlords holdings from distribution and the criminalization of disputes arising from agrarian cases.

KMP and Pamalakaya also noted that in order for a farmer beneficiary to be recognized as a farmer beneficiary, he has to pass three requirements. These requirements include the certification of the Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC) and should be attested by the landlord.

After acquiring the seal of approval from the landlords, the farmer beneficiaries should go to the city or municipal judge to swear under oath that he or she will perform his or her obligations and duties to pay for the monthly amortization and she or he will make the lands productive.

“What if the landlords reject them as farmer beneficiaries? What will happen to the farmer beneficiaries? The Carper is a throwback to the old medieval feudal Europe where farmers are working as slaves and obliged to treat landlords as if they are heaven sent or agents of God. This is extremely revolting,” the groups said.

Pamalakaya and KMP further likened Carper into a huge “no trespassing billboard” preventing farmers and other agrarian reform beneficiaries to till the land and enjoy the fruit of their hard work. The militant group said the extended land reform law has no substantial reforms to speak and was merely cloaked on sweetened phrases just to make it appear acceptable to farmers. #

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