Use of coco funds for CARP, unacceptable – group

PEASANT groups assailed plans by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to use the multi-billion coco levy funds for what it described as the sham Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the claimants’ movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) issued the statement after reports quoted DAR Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes saying that “the DAR is also eyeing coconut levy funds, monies collected from 1973 to 1982 during the Marcos regime from the coconut farmers, who are also potential CARP beneficiaries, to finance support services.”

“Using small coconut farmers’ money for the sham CARP is totally revolting and highly unacceptable. Delos Reyes should not dare touch our money as this would hasten his ouster from the DAR,” warned KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella.

“We will never allow the Aquino government to use small coconut farmers’ money against farmers themselves. The Aquino government would once again steal our plundered money,” says Marbella, also CLAIM national coordinator.

“Our worst fears that the coco levy funds would be used as payment for the lands of big landlords like Hacienda Luisita of the President’s family appears turning into reality,” Marbella said citing reports of the “P10 billion asking price of the Cojuangco-Aquino family for Hacienda Luisita.”

Marbella also said “De los Reyes’ statement affirms the Aquino administration’s so-called ‘roadmap for the coconut industry’ designed by the National Anti-Poverty Commission chaired by Joel Rocamora.”

Rocamora heads the Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds that is pushing for the P11.17 billion five-year “Poverty Reduction Roadmap of the Coconut Industry” that includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)” and the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Land Tenure Improvement, and so-called agro-enterprise development.

“Using the coco levy funds for the sham CARP will only benefit big landlords, like the Cojuangco-Aquinos, and corrupt bureaucrats,” Marbella said insisting that the CARP is no less than a milking cow of big landlords.

The KMP is pushing for the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds in the form of “social benefits to small coconut farmers, like pension, medical, and educational benefits, among others.”

The peasant group is also pushing for the junking of the bogus CARP and is demanding the enactment of House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which seeks the “free distribution of lands to landless tillers.”

“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,” Marbella 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 CARP is 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 KMP said.

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