After 26 years, CARP ends

Ding Cervantes - The Philippine Star

ANGELES CITY, Philippines   – The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) ends today with a farmers’ group rating it as the bloodiest with 664 farmers getting killed in the name of land reform.

“For 26 years, the bogus CARP has been guilty of the bloodshed and human rights violations against the Filipino peasants,” the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement.

KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said that in four years of the Aquino administration, 96 farmers have been killed, as against nine during the Arroyo administration, while 568 others were victims of agrarian-related extra-judicial killings.

“Farmers asserting their rights to the land were subjected to human rights abuses... while peasant leaders were rendered as criminals, incarcerated and, worse, were massacred,” Mariano said.

He cited the killings in Escalante in Negros Occidental and in Lumil in Silang, Cavite; Palo in Leyte, and the killing of 13 farmers in Mendiola, Manila in 1987.

“The blood that was spilled in Mendiola on January 22, 1987, killing 13 farmers and the massacres after that, serve as a reminder that justice will remain elusive for farmers as long as the sham CARP persists,” Mariano said.

CARP expired yesterday after Congress went on recess without approving a proposal, certified as urgent by President Aquino, to extend it for another two years.

The Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson (AMGL) lauded its “natural death,” even as the group batted for the passage of a genuine land reform program proposed by Mariano in Congress.

The KMP cited figures from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) indicating that from July 1987 to June 2012, the agency processed 494,945 agrarian law implementation (ALI) cases.

KMP said the Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), an institution rendering legal and paralegal services to farmers facing agrarian disputes, is handling more than 200 cases involving 15,500 farmers charged with different cases ranging from exemption from agrarian reform coverage, land-use conversion, forced eviction, and criminalized agrarian disputes.

“All of these cases, a reminder of CARP’s failure, remain unresolved and in fact, will outlive the sham land reform program,” Mariano said.

He said that in Hacienda Luisita alone, there are more than 80 criminal cases stemming from the agrarian dispute.

Mariano said among the most controversial cases of criminalization of agrarian dispute involving 604 hectares of mango orchard is that of the “Mamburao 6.”

“It’s the baseless case of six farmers from Mamburao town in Occidental Mindoro that included then KMP national council member Manolito Matricio who were sentenced by the Quezon City court to life imprisonment for allegedly killing the landlord’s son,” he said.

Citing figures from Sentra, the KMP said there are more than 120 peasant political prisoners in the country today.

The KMP and AMGL pushed for the approval of House Bill 252 seeking the free distribution of millions of hectares of private agricultural lands still in the hands of landlords.

“Based on the government’s 1988 Listasaka program, there are 8.9 million hectares of private agricultural lands and granting that the DAR’s so-called accomplishment of distributing 2.6 million hectares of lands is correct there are still 6.3 million hectares of private agricultural lands under the control of big landlords and agro-corporations,” Mariano said.

“This includes vast haciendas that are still intact and lands under contract agreements with plantation owners and agribusiness corporations, many of which contracts are onerous to the interests of farmers and farm workers,” he said.

Mariano added big haciendas and plantations devoted to cash crop production and still intact 26 years later are the strongest evidence of the sham CARP’s failure.

“Landlords exists and the Aquino government’s so-called ‘landed poor’ is a farce, a brazen deception to cover up CARP’s failure,” he said.


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