Include kin’s land in Carp, Arroyo dared

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Inquirer.net | 7 August 2009

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – One of the main authors of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) extension, which was signed into law on Friday, dared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to show her sincerity in implementing the law by distributing her family’s property.

"That will be the real barometer of her sincerity. She has to distribute the lands of her own family, and pave the way for the redistribution of more than one million hectares of private landholdings,” said Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel in a statement.

Baraquel did not witness Arroyo’s signing of the Carp extension with reforms (Carper) in Plaridel town, Bulacan province on Friday.

The family of the President’s husband owns the 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Isabela town, Negros Occidental province.

Meanwhile, critics of Carper, which extended the life of the agrarian reform program for another five years was "more deadly" because of its provision promoting industrialization.

Anakpawis partylist Representative Rafael Mariano said that “the so-called industrialization" in the Carp extension with reforms (Carper) was a "gross distortion.”

“The industrialization in Carper is not based on the free distribution of lands to empower farmers but on the anticipated influx of foreign agribusinesses and massive land-use conversion,” Mariano said in a statement Friday.

Mariano, who also head the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said the Carper "is more deadly than the old Carp."

"All the myths peddled by Carper proponents turned out to be a legal monster that would fortify feudal exploitation,” he said.

Citing the newly signed law's Section 1 “Declaration of Principles and Policies,” Mariano said, “the sell-out of vast tracts of agricultural lands to local and foreign agribusinesses and land-use conversion are now elevated as state policies.”

“The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets: Provided, that the conversion of agricultural lands into industrial, commercial, or residential lands shall take into account tillers' rights and national food security.” the law stated.

The same section of the law also states that “the State recognizes that there is not enough agricultural land to be divided and distributed to each farmer and regular farm worker so that each one can own his/her economic-size family farm.”

“Aside from conditioning farmers that there is not enough land for distribution, Carper hardened non-land transfer schemes like stock distribution option, land lease deals, and joint ventures, that further opened our agricultural lands to global land-grabbers,” according to the militant lawmaker.

Mariano also noted that the law “provided landlords more legal ammunitions to evade land distribution, has set multiple roadblocks, and criminalized the Filipino peasantry's assertion of their rights to land.”

"Under the new law, landlords were given more power by identifying the so-called farmer beneficiaries coupled with a rigorous selection process and requirements,” he said.

In a separate statement, four of the biggest rural based organizations in the country--the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural labor group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and the peasant women federation Amihan -- dismissed the signing of the CARPER as "an across the nation tragedy."

“It is an across-the-nation tragedy because President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the collective death certificate to millions of landless farmers. The Carper by design, by nature and by purpose merely strengthens the feudal power of the landlords in the countryside,” the four militant groups said.

The new law targets to distribute to farmer beneficiaries some 1.2 million hectares of land in the country.

“The compulsory acquisition in Carper is just a myth. The landlords have all the powers to wage to protect their landholdings and even expand it through land-grabbing and other means of deception. The landlords can invoke the voluntary offer to sell scheme and a long list of non-land transfer schemes like Stock Distribution Option and corporative farming for agribusiness to evade land distribution,” the groups said.
Original source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
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