Davao City — Farmers groups here are dismayed over the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) until December 31.

In an interview, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – southern Mindanao vice chairperson Pedro Arnado called for the scrapping of CARP and the approval of House Bill (HB) 3059 also known as the genuine agrarian reform bill still pending in congress.

Peasant groups from Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and North Cotabato gathered in Davao City to call for the scrapping of the CARP. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

HB 3059 seeks to implement free distribution of lands to farmers and lift the heavy amortization rates shouldered by CARP beneficiaries. It also seeks to promote cooperatives and other mutual-aid techniques, which the KMP believes will raise the productivity and the standard of living of farmers, eventually “laying the foundation for national industrialization.”

Arnado said CARP had betrayed millions of Filipino farmers, the largest portion of the country’s population, who dream of having land to till and enough food on the table. “It stabbed farmers in the back through schemes that led to more landlessness,” Arnado said. “(CARP) has instead protected rich and landed families and multinational corporations who own vast tracts of lands.”

The peasant leader said that famers were in a more wretched condition under CARP through such schemes like grant-exemption, reclassification, land-use conversion, bigay-bawi (give and take back), and non-land transfer agreements like the stock distribution option, joint ventures, contract growing and other ploys.

Independent think tank IBON Foundation found that, by the middle of 2004, more than 2,000 emancipation patents (EP) and certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) for CARP beneficiaries were cancelled. These cancelled EPs and CLOAs covered some 380,000 hectares of land.

Lumad farmer joins the call against the extension of CARP. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

“It is the only answer to the farmers’ clamor for land and government subsidy for farm implements. (HB 3059) will revive the agricultural sector, prioritize the cultivation and production of rice and crops that the people need,” Anakpawis regional coordinator Inday Duterte said.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Allaince) secretary general for southern Mindanao Jeppie Ramada blamed the “political maneuvering” in congress to have sabotaged farmers groups’ efforts to formally end CARP.

Ramada said he respects other farmers groups’ calling for CARP’s extension but he said years of CARP implementation failed to uplift the living conditions of farmers. His group called for the scrapping of the agrarian reform program, which they describe as “deceptive”.

Anakpawis national data also reveals that only 30 percent, or 2.9 million hectares, of the total farm area in the country are irrigated. Of the 4.8 million hectares targeted for distribution under CARP, around 48 percent or 2.38 million hectares still rely on the plow.

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