Sunday, June 29, 2014

No revival but natural death to CARP, CL farmers demand

MANILA-Farmers from the regional group Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers Alliance in Central Luzon) and multi-sectoral groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Luzon (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) proclaimed that the implementation of the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and Republic Act 9700 or CARP Extension with “Reforms” (CARPer) is not just a gigantic historical failure but a man-made catastrophe to the farming sector of the region, that deserve no legislated “resuscitation” or revival but a natural death and an unmarked grave.
“If CARP has exhibited any positive trait for poor farmers in 20 years, big issues such as Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, APECO and other agrarian disputes should have not driven farmers and farm workers to camp out, picket lines and long marches,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.

Amgl said that CARP has been instrumental for the Cojuangco-Aquino family to cover the 6,456-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac with stock distribution option (sdo) in 1989.  CARP’s chapter 8 for corporate farms served as a loop-hole for the Cojuangco-Aquino family to escape land transfer and schemed to portray the 5,539 farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) as stockholders of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI).  HLI preserved the powers of the Cojuangco-Aquino family as they controlled its board of directors, implement business decision ranging to mass retrenchment as it did to the officers and members of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) in 2004.  

As FWBs were laid off, their rights as beneficiaries were also terminated as the stocks allocated for them were only redeemable if they work on the sugar estate counted as man-days.  The Cojuangco-Aquino family had control on the allocation of guaranteed man-days that was dwindling down as they convert thousands of hectares.  Agricultural lands shrunk to 4,915-hectares in 2004 as large parcels were converted.  Generally, CARP gave the Cojuangco-Aquino family the power to dispose of the lands, which were the capital counterpart that essentially belonged to the FWBs.

“CARP and sdo made the farm workers to take home a pay of P9.50 in 2004, hence, there was no debate that it was a big failure,” Canlas said.

The groups added that CARP claimed that Nueva Ecija compose 36% of the total number of farmer-beneficiaries in the region or about 95,855 FBs.  DAR recorded that covered lands 169,375-hectares thus averaging the farmsize to 1.77-hectares per FB.  The CARP working scope for the province reach to 179,366-hectares hence the program boast of 94% accomplishment.  Ironically, substantial tracts of lands that composed different haciendas remained intact and evaded land distribution such as: Hacienda Gabaldon, Kilantang, Anggara in Guimba town, Hacienda Rueda in Quezon town, De Santos in Guimba, Cuyapo and Nampicuan towns, Hacienda Tinio in Talavera town, and estates Ilagan, Gonzales, Domingo, Sanggalang, Joson, Angeles, Padre Crisostomo.  

The groups added that FBs are facing cancellation of certificate of land ownership awards (cloa), certificate of land transfer (clt), emancipation patents (ep) and foreclosure cases such as in 238.34-hectare Hacienda Rueda in Brgy. San Andres I, Quezon town; CARP covered 455.33-hectares in Brgy. Pulang Bahay, Quezon town; CARP-PD 27 covered 412-hectares in Brgy. Bicos, Rizal; 569.40-hectare Hacienda De Santos in Brgy. Cacapasan, Cuyapo;  compose the 822-hectares covered by CARP-PD 27 in Brgy. Pacac, Guimba, Hacienda Gabaldon, Hacienda Kilantang and Hacienda Anggara; farmers are facing land cases usually ejectment cases filed by landowners in Sta. Rosa, Jaen, Cabanatuan City, San lsidro and other southern Nueva Ecija towns.

Adding up to the already muddled implementation of CARP is the Hacienda Dolores agrarian dispute in Porac town, Pampanga.  The 2,000-hectare hacienda is farm and homes to about 5,000 farmers and residents and their ancestors have been cultivating the land since Spanish colonial times in 1835.  But in 2004, coinciding the construction of SCTEX, private corporations Leonardo-Lachenal-Leonio Holdings (LLL) and FL Property Management Corp. (FL) have been claiming the lands and in 2011, violently fenced and displaced farmers.  The firms are partners of Ayala Land, Inc. for their 1,000-hectare Alviera project, an eco-residential, commercial, tourist and light industrial estate similar to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.  The private corporations utilized CARP’s provisions as the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued exemption and conversion orders in 2005.  Evidently, CARP disregarded the historical and moral rights of local farmers to the land, instead allowed big corporations to take control of vast lands.  Since 2011, farmers were usual victims of harassment and violent attacks such as the killing of Arman Padiño and Melenao Barcia.

“CARP failed the Hacienda Dolores farmers.  DAR is even helpless as the case was immediately taken over the Aquino’s office and we know that Ayala was a major contributor to his presidential campaign and we condemn the political pay-back,” Canlas said.

To demonstrate the weakness of CARP, the groups cited the Republic Act 10083 or the Aurora Pacific Economic and Freeport Zone (APECO) that covered a wholesale 13,000-hectares in Casiguran town in Aurora province.  CARP has not guaranteed the rights of farmers in lowland rice granary, more the rights of the fisherfolk and indigenous peoples in different parts of the area which are not covered by the program.  The groups said that APECO has violated the socio-economic rights of the farmers in five barangays and threatens their livelihood and homes.

“APECO is only to serve the Angara family, for them to take control of the vast lands, as they did to many parts of the province.  Clearly, CARP is a useless pile of paper, easily overridden by laws such as APECO,” Canlas said.

Generally, Amgl and Bayan affirmed that CARP is an instrument of deception, to sow an illusion of reform which in reality is serve the interests of big landlords, compradors and foreign monopoly capital. CARP preserves  landlessness that serve as the social base of imperialist dictates such as of the World Bank for its neo-liberal policies and World Trade Organization (WTO) for ample supply of cheap agricultural raw materials for use of resource-hungry economies of capitalist countries such as the United States.  

CARP and the absence of genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization restrain the national economy to develop, for agriculture and industry to harmoniously relate, coinciding the upliftment of socio-economic well-being of the population.  In addition, products and value generated in the country must be redirected to the local economy as source of capital, technology development and social services, which fundamentally require the authentic national sovereignty and freedom from foreign control.  Thus, the groups asserted that the issue of landlessness, concretely affects the interests of different sectors such as the middle class and local businesses and it is only prudent for them to carry out support for peasant and basic sectors struggles. 


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