Manila, Philippines- Eight of the biggest rural based organizations in the country today led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural labor group Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant women federation urged senators and congressmen to repeal the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms (CARPer) or Republic Act 9700 for its comprehensive and far-reaching failures in delivering social justice to millions of landless farmers across-the-country. 

The position of KMP and its allies was supported by the Hacienda Luisita farm worker groups Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros (NFSW). 

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said a signature campaign calling for the repeal of CARPer or RA 9700 and the congressional passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 374 authored by Anakpawis party list Rep. Mariano and 6 other militant party list lawmakers will be launched beginning today to compel lawmakers to correct the grave historical injustice by previous land reform programs including the extended CARP.

On the other hand GARB, which militant farmer groups claimed is a progressive and social justice driven land reform law will put all agricultural lands, including lands leased to multinational corporations under the coverage of land reform and will have these lands distributed for free to agrarian reform beneficiaries. 

In HB 374 or GARB, just compensation will be provided to landlords, however lands acquired through coercive and fraudulent means will not receive just compensation from the government. Aside from free distribution, GARB will ensure sufficient subsidies and support to farmer beneficiaries to prevent lands from reverting back to previous and new generations of landlords.   

The KMP official did not say how many signatures his group and allied organizations would target for the anti- CARPer, however, Ramos said a memo will be sent to regional and provincial chapters of KMP in 55 provinces and 17 regions to gather signatures at the grassroots level calling for congressional repeal of RA 9700. 

Ramos said the signatures would be soon submitted to Senate and the House of Representatives for appropriate legislative action.  “We will bring CARPer back to the halls of Congress for extensive debate and discussion. We will assert our previous assessment that this law is a menace to the Filipino farmers. It is time to open the debate once more on why GARB is social justice driven and necessary and why CARPer is a inimical to the collective interest of land tillers and why RA 9700 is undoubtedly a land reform for big landlords,” the KMP leader added. 

Citing a study released by independent think tank Ibon Foundation, KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores noticed that CARPer which was passed by Congress last year only managed to distribute 64,329 hectares out of the 163,014 target hectares for disposal in the second semester of 2009.  

Of the 64, 329 hectares, only 1,777 hectares were acquired by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under compulsory acquisition (CA), and huge sum of money were shelled for more than 41,000 hectares of private agricultural lands under voluntary offer to sell (VOS) scheme. 

“Big landlords who want money for their lands made big money from CARPer last year under the financial slogan and condition of “if the price is right” Those landlords who wanted to keep the lands ranged VOS scheme as agrarian instrument to evade land distribution as seen the case of other big land owners who retained control over 99, 000 hectares which were target for acquisition by DAR last year.  Now tell us where is land reform and social justice in CARPer. Those who are going gaga with the extended land reform are dreaming in broad daylight,” Flores noted.
  
The same Ibon study also revealed that from January 2010 to June 2010 only 17,501 hectares were distributed but only 1,061 hectares were acquired through CA, while 1,340 hectares were covered through VOS scheme. Still a huge number of landlords managed to evade land distribution by choosing VOS and imposing their own price on just compensation to FAIL DAR from placing the lands for coverage of pro-landlord CARPer. 

KMP said the Landbank of the Philippines from 1972 to 2008 had spent P 289 B to acquire 1.6 million hectares of land from landlords in the name of previous land reform programs including the extended CARP. In the first year of CARPer, the KMP said, DAR only managed to distribute 81,000 hectares of the still undistributed 1.7 million hectares of land which is about 4 percent accomplishment rate and still 96 percent of the 1.7 million target hectares are in the hands of landed monopolies and saved from land distribution under the CARPer law. 

Peasant enemy no.1   
Meanwhile peasant activists belonging to Kasama-TK, AMGL, NFSW-Negros and Luisita farm worker groups will lead the public burning of President Aquino’s effigy at Mendiola Bridge whom they tagged as Peasant Enemy No.1. 

The effigy made of scrap materials shows Aquino as the chief political representative of the Haciendero Republic and no.1 puppet of the United States (US) will be collectively set on fire by 20 leaders of peasant and fisherfolk groups from Southern Tagalog region, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos region, Bicol, Negros Island and sectoral leaders of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. 

Kasama-TK spokesperson Nestor Villanueva said President Aquino is coddling big landlords in Southern Tagalog like the Ayala-Zobel family which control or maintain majority stake in a number of haciendas in the region particularly the 10,000 hectare Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas, the 8,650 hectare prime agricultural estate in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas, 10,000 hectare sugar estate of Don Pedro Roxas also in Calatagan, Batangas and the 7,100 hectare estate in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna. 

“Aquino’s political attitude on Hacienda Luisita has become the model of land reform denials, land reform reversals and ultimate land reform grabbing by big landlords in Southern Tagalog region. It is only politically and morally correct to brand this 50-year old bachelor president as peasant enemy no.1,” the Hacienda Yulo based leader said. 

Akbayan’s P 4 B pork barrel 
Villanueva also slammed the P 4.05 B awarded by Aquino’s allies to Akbayan party list, referring to the budget lobbied by Akbayan party list Rep. Kaka Bag-ao for support infrastructure to agrarian reform communities (ARCs) which are members of the moderate and pro-Aquino party list group. 

“Akbayan party list acted as partners in crime of big landlords who want to avail of separate pork barrel from Congress. The P 4 billion support fund will go to agrarian reform communities controlled or influenced by big agro-corporations own by landlords and foreign companies.  Let me set the record straight, these ARCs are nothing but mere showrooms or token land reform projects just to make it appear that land reform still exists in the country. The four billion peso budget is chiefly pork barrel to all-time feudal exploiters,” the Kasama-TK spokesperson added. #

 


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