Peasant group slams PNoy’s “agrarian reform superbody”

THE militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today slammed President Aquino’s creation of what it described as “agrarian reform superbody” that will ensure another extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) minus the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The peasant group was referring to Administrative Order No. 34 issued by Malacanang on November 22 last year “Creating an Inter-Agency Committee on Institutional Arrangements and Rural Development.”

KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said “AO 34 is tied with the Aquino government’s plan to extend the bogus CARP for another five-year extension, further worsen its anti-peasant, pro-landlord and pro-agribusiness character, but minus the DAR.”

Flores said Aquino’s superbody is grounded on the premise that “the CARP is set to be completed by June 30 2014” and “the continuity and streamlining of land distribution and management… and the resulting reorganization and rationalization of concerned government agencies.”

“The haciendero President cannot afford to completely abandon CARP. It is in the interest of Aquino and his government to extend the sham CARP, further worsen it, and exploit its provisions to evade the distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast landholdings in the country,” says Flores.

However, Flores said, AO 34 is the realization of the long-planned “convergence of the departments of agrarian reform, agriculture, and environment and natural resources offices.”

The inter-agency committee is composed of the Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority as chairperson, along with the secretaries of the DAR, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Justice, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Land Registration Authority (LRA), as members.

Under AO 34, the committee is tasked “to conduct a study on the continuity of land distribution and management as well as provision of support services for the agriculture and fisheries sectors” in consideration, among others, of: pursuing/completing the mandate of CARP; rationalizing the provision of support services to farmers and fisherfolks; ensuring the seamless interplay among institutions involved in agricultural extension services provided for in the Local Government Code of 1991; and formulating a transition plan for the post-CARP scenario.

Flores said that the above considerations in extending CARP will make the government’s agrarian reform program far more brutal and anti-peasant.

“With the NEDA at the helm of this superbody and the Local Government Code as one of the backdrops of the planned extension of CARP, Philippine agrarian reform will be in tune with Aquino’s Private-Public Partnership scheme and the full-scale liberalization of agriculture,” the KMP leader said.

“We are set to brace the acceleration of land-use conversions, proliferation of land lease deals, and massive displacement of farmers,” Flores said noting that “the local government code is among the main culprits in the rampant conversion of agricultural lands during the Ramos regime.”

“Like we said before, reviving the anti-peasant CARP is total madness. This will face intense agrarian unrest and resistance in the countryside and the parliament of the streets,” Flores stressed 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 militant peasant group is pushing for the enactment of House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) authored by KMP chairperson and Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano that seeks the “free distribution of lands to the tillers.”

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