Another—but true—face of CARP?
Ceres Doyo might want to feature another side of the Philippines’ agrarian reform program, one that shows how the program can be, and has in fact been, used to deprive the poor.
My late father, a lawyer, more than 30 years ago, won for two dirt-poor illegitimate children of a retired general (now deceased) a piece of land of about 30 hectares located in Cabanatuan City. This the children shared with my father as his attorney’s fee, and the three were acknowledged by the court as co-owners. Because all co-owners had no money to pay for the estate tax, the land remained idle, except for a small portion which the daughter, one of the children co-owners, allowed a farmer to till. This portion of about two hectares was the only tillable area owing, according to the farmer, the area’s uphill characteristic, inaccessible to irrigation.
About 10 years later, the co-owners were aghast to discover that the entire 30 hectares had been awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform to a group of 10 farmers, among them the so-called lone tenant. None of us owners were advised, nor took part in any hearing, and no retention was left to the owners. Not even the portion allotted to my father as his attorney’s fees was spared, which is considered by law to be inviolable. All this happened notwithstanding the fact that our ownership was clearly annotated on the land title.
Only one of the co-owners of the land survives, the daughter, who entered into the tenancy agreement. Most of the heirs of the other co-owners are poor, with no land or house of their own save this property bequeathed to them by their respective fathers. Several are in a state of penury, particularly two of the children of the now-deceased son. Meanwhile, the so-called tenants, beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), can be described as well-off. Almost all of them have their own houses and lots in Cabanatuan, another is reportedly a school teacher, while one of them bears the same surname as a city councilor.
CARP was never intended to give land to the landless, it is meant to give to the landed or to those who have more in life. It takes away the little that remains with the poor in order that others may enrich themselves. The so-called tenants quite obviously realize the value of the land now that the city of Cabanatuan is progressing so well. CARP should never be used for greed but for justice.
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