Knocking at the gates of the House of Representatives

for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB)

 

Batasan, Quezon City

 

June 3, 2009

 

 

KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos and other leaders and members were joined by the partylist groups in a torch rally in front of the Batasan
   
   

Quotes:

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano: “If CARP is extended, would it distribute the lands of the Arroyos to farmers? CARP was used only to reconcentrate the land of a few landed families” (referring to loopholes in the original law that allow landowners to circumvent the program, for instance by turning their farmlands into non-agricultural property).

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño called CARP “heartless and soul-less.” He pointed out that even Lagman, the principal author of CARPER, had admitted that the proposed new law “will not correct the congenital defects” of CARP. “By extending the life of a zombie agrarian-reform program, we are repeating the sin of the 8th congress,” Casiño said.
 

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IBON Press statement/ 3 June 2009
Reference: Rosario Bella Guzman (executive editor)

Senate Agrarian Reform Extension Bill Worse Than Original CARP

The agrarian reform bill approved by the Senate extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another five years is worse than the original CARP and will only further concentrate land ownership to a few landowners and agribusiness firms.

According to research group IBON, the Senate Bill 2666 or An Act Strengthening CARP represents a concession to big private landed interests. The bill, for instance, allows previous landowners to reacquire and reconsolidate their landholdings after the 10-year retention period, and/or the reduction of the 10-year prohibition to 3 years should the so-called farmer-beneficiarie s decide to sell the awarded land.

Moreover, the bill retains the very provisions that made the original law patently anti-farmer and reduced the CARP into real estate transaction such as non-land transfer schemes like the infamous Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which substituted corporate stock sharing for land distribution to peasants. Also retained is the provision for voluntary land transfers (VLTs) which requires farm workers and small farmers to pay spot cash to the landowners.

The Senate version also only targets distribution of lands to only 400,000 farmer-beneficiarie s even as there are still 1.6 million farmers awaiting land reform, excluding the millions still awaiting land awarded them and those whose lands have been forfeited due to indebtedness or whose awarded lands have been forcibly converted for commercial use.

IBON adds that SB 2666 spells no victory for farmers even as it retains compulsory land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component because it upholds the same provisions that allow landowners to skirt around CARP coverage. In fact, the six month-extension from January 2009 to June 2009 without the LAD even gave landowners lead time to get their lands covered by the recently passed Tourism Act of 2009 converting these to non-agricultural use.

Meanwhile, the House version of CARP extension under HB 4077 also strengthens the pro-landlord provisions of the failed CARP. The resolution promotes the creation of more agrarian reform communities (ARCs), further increasing the insecurity of land tenure in the countryside. The House version, in fact, seems to target the fine-tuning of the bankrupt ARC program to continue restructuring local agriculture in order to suit the needs of big land owners and agro-corporations.

The current agrarian reform extension bills reinforce the pro-landlord orientation of the original CARP, which was why it failed to make a dent in peasant landlessness in the first place. According to IBON, CARP extension is not about free land distribution to the tiller, which is the core of a genuine land reform program, but about landlord compensation and requiring peasant beneficiaries to pay for land that they have been tilling for generations. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.
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"Torching" the gates of the House of Representatives
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Another ‘Travesty’ as Congress Votes to Extend Life of Failed CARP
PUBLISHED ON June 4, 2009 AT 9:07 AM
www.bulatlat.com


The landlord-dominated Congress, led by the relatives of President Arroyo, voted Wednesday night to add five more years to the implementation of a 20-year-old agrarian-reform program that has failed to uplift the lives of peasants and farmers in the Philippines. And critics say the new proposed law is even worse than the original.

By MAO HERMITANIO and JANESS ANN J.ELLAO
Bulatlat

MANILA – A day after members of the House of Representatives approved a resolution that would pave the way for the possible extension of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s rule, they passed on third and final reading a controversial bill extending the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – a bill that progressive partylist legislators had rejected for being anti-farmer, pro-landlord and worse than the original.

Led by the four relatives of President Arroyo (her two sons, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law), 211 legislators voted “yes” to House Resolution 4077, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), 13 voted “no,” and only two abstained.

The bill intends to extend by five years the original Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). However, critics say CARPER is worse than CARP because it only reinforces the pro-landlord orientation of the original law.

Peasants, farmers and activists protesting in Congress Wednesday night. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao/ bulatlat.com)

Among those who defended the bill and voted for its passage were principal authors Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of the party-list group Akbayan. Rep. Jun Alcover of the partylist and anti-communist group ANAD praised the CARPER bill, calling its passage a “victory for farmers and democracy.”

The CARPER’s approval is sure to stoke the anti-Arroyo fire created by the approval Tuesday night of the resolution that would convene Congress into a constituent assembly so it can amend the Constitution.

Already, farmers’ groups have lined up protest actions against CARPER, with one protest march scheduled today, Thursday, from the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City to Mendiola, where farmers calling for a genuine agrarian-reform program had been shot and killed.

Arroyo Lands

“If CARP is extended, would it distribute the lands of the Arroyos to farmers?” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano asked his colleagues shortly before the bill was approved through nominal voting before midnight Wednesday. Some members of the Arroyo clan had been resisting the implementation of CARP for years, as do many of the country’s landowners.

Peasants, farmers and activists protesting in Congress Wednesday night. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)

CARP, Mariano added, “was used only to reconcentrate the land of a few landed families,” referring to loopholes in the original law that allow landowners to circumvent the program, for instance by turning their farmlands into non-agricultural property.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said CARP “failed our farmers.” He said — by way of explaining his “no” vote — that he could find no “just and righteous reason to extend a bogus land program.”

Bayan Muna Teddy Casiño called CARP “heartless and soul-less.” He pointed out that even Lagman, the principal author of CARPER, had admitted that the proposed new law “will not correct the congenital defects” of CARP. “By extending the life of a zombie agrarian-reform program, we are repeating the sin of the 8th congress,” Casiño said.

Failed Program

CARP, passed in 1988 as part of President Corazon Aquino’s so-called social-justice program, has largely been a failure. The extensions it has been given, including the one under CARPER, only underscores this.

     
     
     
           
           
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