Group opposes new CARP extension
(The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A public advocacy organization is opposing the new extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), claiming it has failed to increase agricultural productivity, deterring investments in agriculture.

“The CARP has only created a class of landed poor and has failed to increase agricultural productivity. We believe that extending CARP will only increase uncertainty over property rights over agricultural land and deter investments in agriculture,” said the Foundation for Economic Freedom Inc. (FEF).

FEF said instead of extending the CARP, the government should pass a law that would allow farmer-beneficiaries to mortgage their Comprehensive Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) for production loans. To enable this, the collective CLOAs so far issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) should be divided into individual CLOAs.

The group is also pressing for a law that would amend Sec. 27 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) to allow farmers to lease their land.

“We believe that not extending CARP and amending CARL as mentioned above is the only way to inclusive growth in the countryside,” said FEF.

The CARP, first implemented in 1988, is meant to distribute agricultural land to landless farmers by way of voluntary sale by landowners.

It was considered as the centerpiece program of the administration of the late former President Corazon Aquino.

The program stipulates that all agricultural lands exceeding seven hectares would be procured by the government from landowners and sold to landless farmers. The owners of the land would be paid in installment for 15 years.

The program was supposed to expire in 1998 but was extended for another five years in June 2009. The extension expired on June 30, 2014.

The proposed fresh extension of the program is meant to continue the distribution of lands covered by the program.

The Senate in September 2014 passed on third and final reading Senate Bill 2278 which allows the DAR to continue issuing notices of coverage and accept offers to sell from landowners of farmlands until June 30, 2016.

Last week, the House of Representatives agreed to extend the program before the second regular session of Congress ends on June 11.

Critics of the fresh extension claim that there are few large and viable agricultural estates left to be parceled out to beneficiaries.

Small farmers who have received land, they claim, have failed to maximize the use of the awarded land as they struggle to finance crop production. As a result, many have been forced to sell their lands.

There is also the argument, especially from the business sector, that large agricultural estates are more viable and productive especially where large scale commercial farming is concerned.

The government has been providing support for agrarian reform beneficiaries by way of production loans from state-run Land Bank of the Philippines.

There are also efforts to consolidate more small farmers into cooperatives and to pool their small farms into viable production areas.

This is also meant to make the channeling of production and technical support more effective.

 

AGRICULTURAL COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM LAW COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM COMPREHENSIVE LAND OWNERSHIP AWARDS DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM ECONOMIC FREEDOM INC HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES LAND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT CORAZON AQUINO PROGRAM
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