by Kaka Esteban and Trinity Biglang Awa
Manila, Philippines- “It is a joke and a bad one.”
Peasant leaders of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para Sa Lupa at Katarungan on Thursday slammed the announcement of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that agrarian reform agency is ready to distribute some 200,000 hectares of land to qualified farmer beneficiaries this year under the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (CARPer) with the return of the compulsory acquisition scheme in the five year extended land reform law.
In a press statement, Lakbayan organizers Anakpawis party list, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman is joking and treating landless farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries into an outrageous roller coaster ride when he announced DAR target for distribution in 2010.
“Secretary Pangandaman is the point person of landgrabbers and the land speculators in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agrarian reform department. His statement suggests false hopes and political blackmail rolled into. He wants to convince landless farmers that everything is ok under CARPer which is not true,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement.
In its website (www.dar.gov.ph) the agrarian reform agency expressed optimism that the department will attain 200,000 hectare land distribution target for 2010 due largely to the restoration of compulsory acquisition as one of the modes of acquiring lands under Republic Act 9700 or the CARPer law. He said the increase in the budget of DAR will hasten the distribution of land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
“First the target is too low compared to the more than 6 million hectares of prime agricultural lands concentrated in the hands of landed monopolies like big landlords, private corporations and multinational plantations and military landlords in AFP military reservations,” the Lakbayan leaders stressed.
KMP’s Ramos said DAR never mentioned that while the compulsory acquisition (CA) as a mode was restored in CARPer law, it evaded citing the other mode of land acquisition, which is voluntary offer to sell (VOS), which big landlords can range against compulsory acquisition to maintain their control over vast tracts of lands. The farmer leader said the VOS will also be used by landed monopolies to sell their lands at a price acceptable to them.
“Mr. Pangandaman is engaged in massive disinformation. He is not telling the truth about CARPer and the bankruptcy and anti-farmer character of this law,” added Ramos.
Anakpawis’ Clemente urged the House of Representatives to undertake a complete inventory and performance assessment of DAR since CARP was implemented in 1987, asserting that DAR’s accomplish reports were not verified and highly questionable.
The party list official said based on the data provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the country has 14.1 million hectares of prime agricultural lands, of said total 9.9 million hectares are farmlands and about 4 million hectares more or less are devoted to livestock production which were exempted from land distribution since 1988.
“There are about 7 million hectares of prime agricultural lands or more are concentrated in the hands of the few, and we DAR has no proof that five million hectares or more of these lands were already distributed to farmer beneficiaries under the reactionary CARP regime” said Clemente.
KMP noted that in the September 2007 report of DAR, that following data were uncovered: 5,049 emancipation patents (EPs) and 103, 092 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were cancelled by the agrarian department covering 204,579 hectares of land. But think tank Ibon Foundation said at the middle of 2004, DAR cancelled 2,000 land titles of farmers involving 380,000 hectares of land.
Meanwhile, the 87-year old Damasa “Naynay Masang” de Castro, survivor of the 1987 Mendiola Massacre, now on wheel chair, will lead 2,000 marchers from Mindanao, Panay, Negros, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos provinces, La Union, Cordillera, Isabela, Cagayan and Central Luzon provinces will converge at DAR ‘s national office early this evening for the People’s Concert and Vigil for Land and Justice.
The Mendiola Massacre survivor and veteran of numerous fights on agrarian reform led the community of farmers in Barangay Langkaan 1 and Pala-pala in Dasmarinas, Cavite against the Japanese giant Marubeni in the mid 80s and early 90s –whom the old woman and her farmer colleagues accused of landgrabbing and violations of peasant land rights.
Tomorrow, the 10,000 marching farmers , fisherfolk, farmworkers and peasant women will be joined by 8,000 Manila based activists belonging to Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), Gabriela, Bayan, Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party, League of Filipino Students (LFS) and eight militant party list congressmen—Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares and Teddy Casino, Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod, Kabataan Party Rep. Raymond Palatino and Gabriela lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan. With reports from Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sugar Hicap