More than a hundred farmers belonging to the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) protested at the gates of House of Representatives and  burned symbols of RA 9700 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer) as a call to repeal the law approaching on its first year of implementation on August 7.  

“The first year of CARPer is nothing but landgrabbing, displacements of farmers, land use conversion, all hardship on Filipino farmers.  It is worse than CARP, we want the lower house to repeal it and pass the House Bill 374 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), instead,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson.

Reports that reached the KMP National Office are majorly regarding displacements of farmers and landgrabbing by landlords which they believed are in anticipation of the full implementation of CARPer.

Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK, KMP Southern Tagalog) reported that farmers from Hacienda Yulo watching against illegal cutting of coconut trees were attempted to be dispersed on May 21 resulting the injuries and arrests of some of its leaders and members, including a 12-year old boy.  At present, their community is militarized as elements of the PNP Provincial Mobile Group (PMG) and AFP use it as base and continues to patrol the area resulting a fearful atmosphere on farmers.  The farmers cultivated the lands since American colonial period but the Yulo family claims ownership of the 500-hectare coconut lands.

On June 3, houses from Bgy. Bulihan in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas were demolished as part of the continuing land use conversion led by Fil-Estate and Manila Southcoast Dev’t Corp. owned by mall magnate Henry Sy.

Moreover, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL, KMP Central Luzon) reported that houses of farmers from Sta. Barbara town, Pangasinan were nearly demolished on May 25 by town police and security guards employed by Humberto Solis who claim ownership of the lands.  The farmers were beneficiaries of Marcos’ land reform program PD 27 and holders of Emancipation Patents (EPs).  Also, in Central Luzon, Rep. Luis Villafuerte is landgrabbing 348-hectares of lands at Bgy. Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan.  

More recently, Pascual Guevarra was killed on July 9 at Bgy. San Isidro, inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.  Guevarra was a Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) -holder and member of a local ARB organization.

SAGUPA-SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) reported that former Court of Appeals Associate Justice Vicente Veloso is landgrabbing of a 429-hectare land which are farms of more than a hundred CLOA-holding farmer-beneficiaries of CARP.  In Negros, landlords are filing assorted criminal charges against farmworkers who tilled abandoned lands in light of grabbing them from the farmers.  In Mindanao, peasant communities are being transformed into garrison communities by the military to threaten them from struggling for their rights to land.

“These are just few cases of further landgrabbing and displacements of farmers, within the period of CARPer’s first year of implementation.  In short, the situation worsen and CARPer is clearly not the solution farmers are clamoring for many decades,” said Flores.

“We are here at Congress to express our sentiments and to tell them that they are wrong about CARPer and it is in no way to solve landlessness in the country.  It should be thrown away to history’s trash bin and House Bill 374 or GARB should be immediately passed,” Flores added.

“The landlord-dominated Congress should think very seriously about CARPer as it would definitely result a social volcano led by the peasants who are continuously being oppressed and exploited.  President Noynoy Aquino should also quit being sleepy and quiet on the land issue as what he did at his first SONA, mentioning nothing about Hacienda Luisita and the country’s land reform issue,” he said.

The group said that CARPer has only strengthened the landlord’s rights and not of the farmers, starting from the latter’s attestation that a farmer is indeed a tenant.  CARPer’s ladderized implementation based on the accomplishment of per-land size category is also an impossible measure as agrarian cases take years to be resolved, thus, larger lands would never be covered in its 5-year implementation.

“CARPer is totally garbage to Filipino farmers, actually, it is a landlord instrument to kick out farmers or grab lands from them.  Filipinos who aim for a socially-just and democratic Philippines should take a closer look on the provisions of CARPer and we are confident that they would support us,” added Flores.

“We call on the junking of CARPer, passage of GARB and free distribution of hacienda lands all over the country, including Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and Hacienda Yulo in Laguna,” called Flores. #

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