By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — The farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas is proposing a new land reform bill in Congress that will distribute lands to farmers without cost, as an alternative to the governments Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that the group declared a failure after 20 years.

Rafael Mariano, KMP national chairman, said the CARP’s extension is not the solution for the grinding poverty and landlessness of farmers in the countryside. He said a nationwide peasant conference scheduled by his group next month will draft a “genuine” agrarian reform bill that will break up land monopoly control and the control of big plantations in the country. Partylist groups and their allies will present the resolution when Congress open sessions on Nov. 6.

Mariano said it will be a better law than the existing CARP, which failed to end the sufferings of farmers after two decades. The new bill will ensure that farmers will no longer lose control of their land. To do that, the proposed bill wll do away with provisions giving the farmers the option to sell their land.

Mariano, who also sits as the national president of the partylist group Anakpawis, said almost 20 years of CARP and over 35 years of the land reform program under Marcos covered by Presidential Decree 27, failed to break up land monopoly and to uplift the conditions of farmers in the countryside.

Vast tracts of land that were supposed to be distributed to farmers remain outside of the scope of CARP, he said.

Of the 9.97 million hectares total agricultural land registered by the 1991 Census of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is only tasked to distribute some 4.3 million hectares or only 43 percent of the country’s agricultural lands. “Some 5.7 million hectares are not covered by CARP, and most of these lands are owned by big landowners and big plantations,” he said. “This was the reason why no amount of CARP extension will ever succeed and uplift the conditions of farmers,” he added.

He also criticized the DAR accomplishment report on the government’s agrarian reform program as “inaccurate,” “unreliable,” bloated, and fell short of being manipulated.

DAR claimed to have distributed over 3.08 million hectares of land to 2.1 million farmer beneficiaries nationwide, but the figure did not take out the number of emancipation patents (EPs), certificates of land title (CLT), certificates of land ownership awards (CLOA) and land transfer certificates that were already approved but were canceled by the government because of petitions for landowners.

It also did not cover the lands which were converted and reclassified under the new zoning classification and those that were exempted, after the land owners’ petitions for exemptions were approved; and those landholdings where the tenants were evicted from the land. “There was no clean inventory of the lands that were distributed, they included those which were approved but were already canceled because the landowners won the case,” he said.

Mariano said that if former Congressman Bonifacio Gillego was able to introduce in 1988 House Bill 400, which he described as a “progressive land reform bill” because it took into account the need to distribute big landholdings to farmers who cultivate the land, there is no reason that the five partylist representatives in Congress and their allies cannot introduce the bill that will break up land monopolies. “It will start discussions on ‘genuine’ land reform rolling in the landlord-dominated Congress,” he said. (Germelina Lacorte/

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