Critics: GMA signing of Carper, an across the nation tragedy

Critics: GMA signing of Carper, an across the nation tragedy

Four of the biggest rural based organizations in the country—the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural labor group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and the peasant women federation Amihan on Friday dismissed the signing of the CARP Extension with Reforms (Carper) as an across the nation tragedy.

“It is an across-the-nation tragedy because President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the collective death certificate to millions of landless farmers. The Carper by design, by nature and by purpose merely strengthens the feudal power of the landlords in the countryside,” the four militant groups said in a joint press statement.

President Arroyo will sign Carper law in Plaridel, where her father former President Diosdado Macapagal signed by the first agrarian reform law in the same town in August 1963. Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman said the President chose to sign the Carp extension with reform law in Plaridel in honor of the late President Macapagal and put significance to the signing.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said Carper law 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.

“The compulsory acquisition in Carper is just a myth. The landlords have all the powers to wage to protect their landholdings and even expand it through landgrabbing and other means of deception. The landlords can invoke the voluntary offer to sell scheme and a long list of non-land transfer schemes like Stock Distribution Option and corporative farming for agribusiness to evade land distribution,” the peasant leader said.

The KMP leader added: “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.’

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap 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.

Hicap 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 obligation 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 Pamalakaya leader said.

Pamalakaya 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.

“The Carper law will promote a new era of political repression in the countryside. This law will subject the struggling farmers to an endless cycle of state violence in partnership with the landlords courtesy of provisions criminalizing the peasant struggle for genuine agrarian reform,” the group said.

For their parts UMA chairperson Rene Galang and Amihan spokesperson Zen Soriano said Carper was a land reform law for landlords and a fitting tribute to their obsession to transform their landholdings into an integral part of neo-liberalization by transforming farmlands into agribusiness units catering to the needs of foreign monopoly powers and big businesses.

“Carper should be properly billed as An Act Further Strengthening the Feudal Powers of the Landlords. It is not for landless farmers because it is not a social justice piece of legislation but a shotgun product of Congress for fiefdom and continuing slavery of peasants all over the country,” they said.

The anti-Carper groups threw the challenge to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to renege their support to Carper after the killer amendments were successfully included in the bicameral report and passed by both Houses last month.

KMP and Pamalakaya noted that last June the CBCP issued a statement calling for the rejection of Carper if those killer amendments were incorporated in the proposed extension of the 20-year old program.

“The CBCP is betrayed by the landlord dominating class in Congress and the self-proclaimed agrarian reform advocates in Congress who convinced the bishops that Carper is good better than not to have an extended land reform law. Now is the time for the more than 100 archbishops and bishops of CBCP to say no to Carper,” the groups added.

KMP and Pamalakaya are the two main groups calling for the rejection of Carper, and instead are pushing for the radical version of land reform law in the country known as Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or House Bill No. 3059 calling for free land distribution of all agricultural lands to landless and land lacking farmers nationwide.

The proposed land reform law was authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan and Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano. #

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