Davaos Anakpawis Blasts Pro-Landlord DAR

Feb. 13, 2007

Still Landless After All These Years. A peasant picketing the DAR office in Davao last year.

DAVAO CITY — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has been challenged by Anakpawis, the partylist organization, to prove that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is effective. The group also criticized the department for its proposal to extend the program for 10 more years.

The DAR in Southern Mindanao recently boasted that it has surpassed its 2006 target in land acquisition and distribution, claiming that it has distributed a total of 7, 242 hectares of agricultural lands to 6,238 farm-beneficiaries.

The department’s national office said that 43,708 farmers are still waiting for lands under the program. It also claimed that it needs a 10-year extension period, after CARP expires in 2008, to distribute the remaining 1.1 million hectares of agricultural lands.

“DAR claims achievement in distributing or awarding lands to CARP beneficiaries, but many farmers are still complaining about the program’s glaring bias against them in favor to big landlords,” Editha Inday Duterte, Anakpawis-Southern Mindanao spokesperson said. Anakpawis represents workers, farmers and the urban poor in Congress.

While thousands of farmers in the country don’t have their own lands to till or have no means to develop their small piece of land, rich landowners are enjoying the produce of their vast lands and have evaded, through various schemes, the inclusion of their properties under CARP, Duterte pointed out.

One example is the DAR’s difficulty to redistribute the agricultural estates belonging to the family of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, in Negros Occidental.

In 2005, DAR admitted that half of the 1,100-hectare of Mr. Arroyo’s vast landholdings were difficult to process for CARP inclusion because these were either titled to corporations belonging to the relatives of Mr. Arroyo or their previous owners, who were mostly the First Gentleman’s relatives.

“How can the government implement CARP when the current occupant in Malacaang cannot even comply with it?” Duterte asked.

Even the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, who owns the 6,400-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, has evaded CARP. The Aquino administration had pushed for the said agrarian reform program in 1988.

“CARP exists for almost 20 years now. However, it does not take a genius to realize that it has not given significant improvement to the lives of the landless farmers and the people in general,” Duterte said.

In the past years, DAR had been receiving additional funding for the agrarian reform program implementation. In 1998, the agrarian reform law has been given an additional funding of 50 billion pesos. In 2004, 13.11 billion pesos was allotted for CARP and in 2005, another 8.9 billion pesos was released. The 2004-05 budgets were drawn from the 35 billion peso ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos that was deposited in the Swiss bank.

“To say that the agricultural sector is in limbo is an understatement, Duterte said. The Arroyo administration and its predecessors have no genuine programs to alleviate the condition of the hapless Filipino farmers. CARP has been a program to protect the landlords instead.” (Anakpawis)

[tags]davao today, southern mindanao, philippines, agrarian reform, CARP, arroyo, anakpawis[/tags]

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