Peasant groups on Friday took to the streets to protest Asia’s longest-running land reform program and the alleged human rights violations against farmers.
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented on June 10, 1988, requiring farmer-beneficiaries to pay amortization fees in order to acquire legal ownership of land.
Peasant groups claimed the program did not succeed in ensuring the genuine redistribution of land to farmers, adding that the program was intentionally designed to benefit landlords and compradors.
“The persistent abuse on farmers – a testament to which are the countless human rights violations and seizure of their farmlands to favor landlords – is proof that CARP is a sham that fails to genuinely answer farmers’ rights,” Jerry Luna, chairperson of Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA TK).
According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the program has “wasted” over P306 billion in funds from 1988 to 2016. Out of this amount, P77 billion was sourced from the recovered ill-gotten wealth of Marcos, while P188 billion came from the annual government budget.
The group said another indication of its deceitfulness was its failure to meet the original 10-year implementation deadline, leading to two extensions until its expiration in June 2014.
Despite having a remaining balance of 1.2 million hectares in strategic operation provinces in 2008, the same balance persisted in 2016,” the group said.
“Since it has already expired and no legislation has been enacted to extend or replace it, currently, landless farmers have no hope for agrarian reform,” said Rafael Mariano, former agrarian reform secretary and chairperson emeritus of KMP.
KMP renewed its call to enact the alternative Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, which the group claimed to end landlessness in the country.
“The basic reality remains, there is still no genuine land reform. Without this, peasant landlessness can only worsen, and the domestic agriculture and economy will remain underdeveloped,” the group said in a separate statement.
According to the group, a genuine agrarian reform program should tackle the issue of land inequity by mobilizing peasants and utilizing state authority to accomplish the following objectives: (1) dismantle land monopolies, (2) facilitate equitable land distribution to farmers, (3) encourage the formation of cooperatives, (4) offer comprehensive support services, and (5) foster the development of rural industries for the advancement of the nation.