Casiño: CARPER extension may benefit Aquino-Cojuangcos with P10-B

PARTY LIST representative Teddy Casiño today urged Congress to pass a new agrarian reform law to address the continuing landlessness of peasants even after 24 years of the failed yet extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“The mere fact that the CARP needs another extension even if it has been going on for decades is proof that it is a failure. Until now 7 out of 10 farmers in the country are landless and poor, in some areas it is 8 out of 10. In fact, many beneficiaries have sold their lands back to the landwoners and many landowners have yet to be compensated,” said the Makabayan senatorial bet.

“It is high time that the Aquino administration admit that we need a genuinely progressive agrarian reform law and not a flawed one like CARP,” added Casiño, one of the authors of the proposed Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 374.

“A real agrarian reform program should at most last only for 5 years and cover all agricultural lands with very little exceptions so as no unscrupulous individuals, families, groups or corporations can circumvent the law as what is happening today. Just compensation will also be given to land owners immediately so they can shift to industry and other productive endeavours. The most important thing though is that the land will be distributed for free to farmer-tillers so they can reap the full benefits of emancipation,” he said.

Casiño said another extension of the CARP would be dangerous because this would favor big landed families like that of the President’s, who are still contesting the value of the lands acquired under the program. For example, if the Supreme Court rules in their favour, the Aquino-Cojuangcos would get P10 billion based on the 2006 valuation of the 4,915.7466 hectares up for distribution in Luisita. But if CARP ends as scheduled and the SC would not rule in Aquino-Cojuangco’s favour then the valuation would remain at the 1989 value of Luisita. “The point is the longer the CARP is, the worse for farmers,” Casiño explained.

“We must be very vigilant against the extension of CARP because from its precursor, Presidential Decree 27 of Pres. Marcos up to the present, land reform has been a milking cow of the landed elite and corrupt DAR officials,” he concluded.

Government records show that from 1972 to June 2005, the total approved Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) compensation to 83,203 landowners for 1.3 million hectares has reached P41.6 billion ($783.2 million, based on an exchange rate of P53.115 per US dollar) in cash and bonds, or an average of P500,463 ($9422.25) per landlord.

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