Farmers belonging to the regional farmers group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) slammed president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino (BS Aquino) for his marching order to both legislative chamber certifying House Bill 4296 as urgent. The bill proposed extending the implementation of the Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) beyond its supposed expiration on June 30 this year and additional budget for its land acquisition and distribution (Lad) provision.
“The farmers in Central Luzon are not ignorant of the ill-effects of Carp and actually demanding its immediate death on or before June 30. Carp is an illusion, not even an agrarian reform program, but a milking cow of corrupt government officials and big landlords. We demand the immediate junking and shredding of House Bill 4296 as well as RA 6576,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl said that it is historically evident that Carp salvaged the interests of big landlords such as the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija hacienderos, landlords in different provinces and rich and powerful corporations.
“Aquino’s family retained control in Hacienda Luisita using Carp and its stock distribution option provision in 1989, that resulted the unimaginable poverty and misery of the farm workers, on the other hand, thousands of hectares were converted such as the Luisita mall, industrial park, golf course and more,” Canlas said.
In addition, farmer beneficiaries who are holding certificate of land ownership awards (cloa), certificate of land transfer (clt) and emancipation patents (ep) in Nueva Ecija are actually receiving cancellation notices and foreclosure notices from the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Land Bank. In 2011, DAR reported that there are 95,855 farmer-beneficiaries in Nueva Ecija for 169,375-hectares.
“DAR reported of big accomplishment in Nueva Ecija but the farmers are plagued with cancellation and displacement issues,” Canlas said.
Amgl also asserted that Carp was instrumental in displacing farmers from their lands in Hacienda Dolores in Porac town, Pampanga. The 2,000-hectare hacienda is now being converted by Ayala Land as Alviera, a eco-residential and commercial estate similar to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
“DAR issued exemption and conversion orders for Hacienda Dolores lands, thus, private corporations wreak havoc, violently displaced farmers and destroyed their crops. Carp is the main instrument used by Ayala Land’s dummy corporations to snatch lands from the farmers,” Canlas said.
Since 2011, farmers from Hacienda Dolores were systematically harassed, imprisoned and killed as Ayala Land’s partner corporations deployed hundreds of security guards, backed up by armed goons. Early this year, farmers attempting to work on their lands were fired upon, killing one and last May 2, a farmer leader was killed and his wife wounded.
“Violent repression of farmers are inherent to Carp as it actually serve the interests of big landlords and corporations and not the poor farmers,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that Carp is far from being an agrarian reform program, thus, should be immediately repealed and replaced. The group challenged the lawmakers to junk House Bill 4296.
“Amidst the country’s problems such as the multi-billion peso corruption through pork barrel, the multi-billion peso Carp should be laid to rest. Lawmakers for once should prioritize the interest of the poor farmers,”
Amgl claimed that Carp is just an illusionary policy of a government dominated by the landlord class and neglecting the fundamental interest of poor farmers to genuine land reform. The group advocated a national democratic principle of realizing genuine land reform as opposed to Carp. Agrarian reform, as a reform program essentially should be free land distribution and not a real estate transaction obliging farmers of amortization.
“Carp simply meant that farmers who actually developed lands for decades or even centuries with their ancestors, should be charged again with amortizing the landlord who enjoyed the exploitative land rent sourced from the latter’s very sweat and blood,” Canlas said. #