Farmers launch protest action vs CARPer

MORE than 100 farmers from Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Pampanga joined farmers from other regions under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis Partylist in a protest action in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) central office in Quezon City,.

The farmers urged President Benigno Aquino to junk the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer) and instead pass House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

Joseph Canlas, chairperson of Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon, also challenged Aquino to abandon his and his family’s interest on Hacienda Luisita and immediately order its distribution to the 6,296 farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) as ordered by the Supreme Court.

“Aquino is sending a wrong signal by delaying the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. He and the Cojuangco-Aquinos promised to follow the law but when the Supreme Court decided, here he goes ordering DAR to make a new list of FWBs, prolonging the process,” Canlas said.

The group likewise demanded the immediate distribution of 3,100-hectares agricultural lands formerly part of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija being claimed by the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA).

“The issue of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation is the very concrete example of the uselessness of CARPer. Imagine, its coverage was already ordered by former president Cory Aquino through her executive orders 407 and 448 in 1990, and Deed of Transfer (DOT) between DAR and the Dept. of National Defense (DND) signed by Sec. Benjamin Leong and Renato De Villa, respectively in 1990, but the process is being opposed by the AFP, a government entity itself,” Canlas said.

“CARPer could not even compel the AFP to follow the law, thus, harassment against farmers continue and retired police and military officials are grabbing lands in Fort Magsaysay,” he added.

The group also demanded Aquino to stop the massive land use conversion(LUCs) in Central Luzon, ejecting farmers from their land.

“These LUCs in Central Luzon is a threat to farmers’ rights on land, as well as to the food security of our country,” Canlas said.

He said the construction of Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) and Central Luzon Expressway (CLEx) projects in Nueva Ecija has ejected and continue to threaten farmers out of their lands.

“If Aquino was sincere in realizing fundamental reforms, CARP should have covered the subjected lands decades ago and distributed to legitimate farmer-beneficiaries,” Canlas said.

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