MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will accomplish its target land distribution despite a proposal to extend the agrarian reform program up to 2019, Malacañang said Friday, November 2.
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), which also extended the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to 5 years, is set to expire in 2014.
“But, as far as the DAR is concerned, tuloy pa rin ho. Gumagalaw po ‘yung DAR as if wala pong panukalang batas to extend kasi meron naman po silang mga sinet (set) na na target while… And, also, we also made it clear that even if dumating po ‘yung deadline by June po yata ng 2014, basta ho na-issue na ‘yung notice of coverage, tuloy pa rin po ‘yung proseso,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigal Valte said in a radio interview.
(But, as far as the DAR is concerned, distributions will still continue. DAR is still working as if there is no proposed legislation to extend because they have already set targets. And, also, we also made it clear that even if the June 2014 deadline arrives, as long as the notices of coverage have been issued, the process will continue.)
The issuance of notices of coverage “commences the compulsory acquisition of private agricultural lands coverable under the CARP,” according to DAR.
Valte said that Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes has assured Malacañang that the issuance of notices of coverage for landholdings above 10 hectares will be completed by December 2012 while notices of coverage on landholdings below 10 hectares is targeted to be awarded by July 1, 2013.
Although DAR is on track to fulfill its targets, agrarian reform officials can be expected to cooperate should their inputs be needed for deliberations on the bill," Valte said.
"Ngayon, handa naman po ‘yung DAR na mag-appear po for the committee hearings to provide information and to act as resource persons doon sa ating mga mambabatas kung ipapatawag po sila at kakailanganin po sila para doon ho sa mga deliberasyon sa panukalang batas na ito," Valte said.
(Now, DAR officials are ready to attend committee hearings and provide information and to act as resource persons to our lawmakers if they will be summoned and if they will be needed for the deliberations of this law.)
Earlier, Cagayan de Oro Rep Rufus Rodriguez and his brother, Abante Mindanao Rep Maximo Rodriguez, filed House Bill No. 6614, which seeks to extend CARPER to 5 years over claims that DAR has yet to completely roll out the program 24 years after it was implemented by former President Corazon Aquino.
In the bill’s explanatory note, the lawmakers said that one example that DAR is far from fulfilling its objectives is that it has only been able to distribute around 32,000 hectares out of its 180,000 target.
The bill has been referred to the committee on agrarian reform.
Meanwhile, militant farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) slammed the proposed extension as “total madness,” warning that the move will face “intense agrarian unrest and resistance in the countryside and the parliament of the streets.”
“Twenty-four years of the bogus CARP failed to address the monopoly of big landlords over vast tracts of lands. Instead, the landlessness and land-grabbing suffered by farmers had worsened,” KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis said in a statement.
KMP is pushing for the approval of House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill authored by Anakpawis Rep Rafael Mariano, which seeks free land distribution to the farmers. The bill is still pending in the House of Representatives.
“CARP is no less than a milking cow of big landlords. Only hacienderos like Aquino have profited immensely from it,” Echanis said.
President Benigno Aquino III’s family owns 4,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita property in Tarlac, which was the subject of a long court battle after an option for stock-sharing, instead of land distribution, was included when the CARP was implemented in 1998.
In April 2012, the Supreme Court reiterated its ruling ordering the total distribution of Hacienda Luisita to about 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries.
On Wednesday, October 31, DAR posted the initial list of 5,365 farmworkers who will finally be awarded their land titles. - Rappler.com