On June 10, the Aquino administration and its Department of Agrarian Reform will celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). But for us in the farmers’ sector, there’s no reason to celebrate. Agrarian reform, especially land distribution which is the heart of the program, is languishing under President Aquino. Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil delos Reyes already admitted that DAR will not be able to finish land distribution, leaving around 500,000 hectares—almost half of DAR’s target land distribution—
undistributed by 2014.
This statement confirms our fear that Malacañang was just lying to the farmers when it claimed that the program’s implementation was on target. No amount of “we are on track” pronouncement by Malacañang can refute organized farmers’ assessment that the CARP Extension with Reforms (Carper), which we pushed and popularly clamored for, is failing with P-Noy at the helm. The nonimplementation of Carper, unfortunately, will affect 1.1 million farmers.
We are seeing the retreat of agrarian reform as a result of the DAR’s lackluster performance, budget cuts by government, “reforms” that block land redistribution and a bureaucracy that cannot pursue the full implementation of Carper with urgency. In 2011, DAR claimed to have distributed 120,286 hectares of land and land titles covering 111,889 hectares.
This was only half of its target of 200,000 hectares for that year. And we further ask if the lands reportedly distributed have actually been given to target agrarian reform beneficiaries and if these beneficiaries have the land titles in their hands, and if they are being provided with appropriate support services. Only if these components have been realized can the government claim fulfillment of its obligations under the law.
For more than four months now, farmers from all over the country, from different people’s organizations and federations, have been camping out in front of DAR offices to show their discontent with the paralysis that has stalled agrarian reform’s implementation. The messages on their placards and streamers express their demands and indicate the real state of agrarian reform in the country.
As the CARP anniversary approaches, we, as part of the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance, will spearhead activities nationwide to demand for a real, effective, just and substantive implementation of agrarian reform in the country, especially of the large landholdings. Only by distributing these will we break the monopoly and control of big landowners in the countryside. We call for actual transfer of lands, and for a transparent and genuine participation of farmers and civil society in the implementation of the program.
Save Agrarian Reform Alliance;