‘Total madness,’ farmers say on another 5-year extension of CARP

THE peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today described as “total madness” the proposal to extend for another five years what it described as the sham and anti-peasant Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“The Filipino peasantry already had enough of the bogus CARP. Reviving the anti-peasant CARP from its current political comatose and giving it another five-year lease in life is total madness. This will face intense agrarian unrest and resistance in the countryside and the parliament of the streets,” said KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis.

The KMP issued the statement after Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and his brother Maximo filed last month a bill that would extend CARP until 2019.

“24 years of the bogus CARP failed to address the monopoly of big landlords over vast tracts of lands. Instead, landlessness and land-grabbing suffered by farmers worsened,” Echanis said adding: “Only a genuine agrarian reform program that will break the monopoly and control of big landlords over vast tracts of lands and haciendas and its subsequent free distribution to landless tillers will solve the centuries-old landlessness of peasants in the country.”

The KMP is pushing for the enactment of House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that seeks the “free distribution of lands to the tillers.”

Echanis also described the CARP as “the longest-running and most expensive agrarian reform program in the world and is not meant to address the problem of landlessness and rural poverty. 24 years of CARP is enough.”

The CARP was enacted on June 10, 1988 during the administration of then President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. Activist farmers said the CARP was crafted by Aquino’s family to exempt Hacienda Luisita and other vast haciendas in the country from actual land distribution. The CARP also includes the operation land transfer (OLT) under Presidential Decree 27, enacted in 1972 by former President Marcos.

“CARP is no less than a milking cow of big landlords. Only hacienderos like Aquino have profited immensely from CARP,” Echanis said citing that “from 1972 to June 2005, total approved Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) compensation to 83,203 landowners for only 1.3 million hectares has already 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. The five-year extension of CARP or CARPER, (2009-2014) also have a P150-billion budgetary allocation.

“Even the DAR’s figures are deceiving. The DAR already listed as accomplishment even those lands that are still locked in agrarian disputes like Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Yulo in Southern Tagalog, among others,” the peasant leader said.

“For more than 40 years since Marcos’ PD 27, the government’s bogus agrarian reform is coupled by human rights violations and countless cases of massacre of peasants asserting their rights to the land,” Echanis said citing “the Escalante massacre in Negros, Lumil massacre in Silang, Cavite; Mendiola Massacre, and Hacienda Luisita massacre, among others.”

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