What's next after the land reform deadline?
MANILA, Philippines – Rappler talked to Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, the chairman of the House committee on agrarian reform.
On the third deadline to complete the distribution of lands to farmers, the Philippine government still had more than 78,300 hectares to put under the agrarian reform program. (READ: Agrarian reform deadline: 78,000 hectares not yet covered)
Based on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) law, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) until June 30, 2014, to issue Notices of Coverage (NOCs) to jumpstart the process of distributing identified lands.
DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao admitted earlier that they would be unable to live up to such a demand. The biggest causes of delay, he said, were the certification of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) of 1,200 land titles in Negros Occidental, the loss of documents in Leyte due to Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), and the incomplete database of land that should be covered by CARP.
Lawmakers and executive officials, however, say agrarian reform will not end with the deadline. Baguilat said “the implementation of CARP as amended will continue after June 30, 2014. CARP lives."
There are moves to amend CARPER in such a way that will allow the DAR to put landholdings under NOCs for another two years – until June 30, 2016. President Benigno Aquino III certified as urgent bills in the House and the Senate that would make such an amendment. (READ: Aquino to Congress: Extend agrarian reform deadline)
In the meantime, DAR will focus on processing all lands which have been issued NOCs until they are successfully occupied by smallholder farmers. DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes has said that around 450,000 hectares – bulk of the land still awaiting distribution – are private lands.
Some camps are calling for another plan of action once the amendment is passed: replace DAR Secretary de los Reyes with someone who can do a better job.
This is not the first time that agrarian reform deadlines were missed. CARPER is itself an extension of an extension of uncompleted programs since 1988.
Watch the interview below.