Latest Stories

Revamp DAR, 78 bishops urge Aquino


After going head to head with the Aquino administration over the reproductive health measure, the country’s Catholic bishops are taking issue with the government on another one of their obsessions.

Warning of an impending “agrarian reform crisis,” 78 bishops from Batanes to Jolo have signed an urgent appeal to President Aquino to take decisive action and revamp the leadership of the Department of Agrarian Refom (DAR).

The bishops said they were “greatly alarmed” at the prospect that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) law was expiring in two years’ time but the accomplishments of DAR “have been dismal, to say the least.”

“Mr. President, please take quick decisive action that Carper be fully implemented and revamp the current leadership of DAR which underperformed these past two-and-a-half years,” the bishops said.

“You are racing against time. We make this appeal with great urgency,” they added.


Cory Aquino’s pet program

The bishops sought to remind the President that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was a centerpiece social justice program of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, and was “meant to address a long and deep issue of rural inequality that is one of the root causes of poverty and insurgency.”

“Is it a design of the Divine Providence that what your mother, of happy memory, started would be finished within your term when the Carper Law ends by July of 2014?” they asked.

CARP was extended for another five years in 2009, and renamed CARP Extension with Reforms (Carper) with a budget of P150 billion. With Carper set to expire on June 30, 2014, the government is now scrambling to fully implement it.

The bishops’ letter, dated Jan. 24, was sent to Malacañang on Monday. Its signatories include Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and Archbishop Jose Palma, the current Cebu archbishop who is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Throughout their long and bitter campaign against the Aquino administration’s ultimately successful attempt to pass the reproductive health law, the bishops have continued to maintain that the Church remains in “critical collaboration” with the government.

Carper unfulfilled

In their letter, the bishops said they were elated when the President heeded their call and promised farmers in June last year that there would be a “speedy implementation” of the Carper Law.

“Our hope was further bolstered when you forcefully stated in your (State of the Nation Address) in July 2012 that you and your administration are committed to fulfill the Carper Law,” they said.

“We are greatly alarmed, however, that barely one-and-a-half years from the expiration of Carper, the accomplishments of DAR have been dismal, to say the least, and many promises made to the farmers in the June dialogue are not fulfilled,” they said.

“We, therefore, make common cause with the farmers and many agrarian reform advocates in the call for speedy implementation of this law that touches deeply a grave social justice issue in the country affecting so many poor farmers,” they said.

Grossly underperforming

In a paper that they attached to their letter, the bishops said farmer beneficiaries were “getting desperate” that the present DAR leadership “cannot do the job.”

They noted that the P30 billion annual budget for CARP was not allocated again for 2013 and the socialized credit program mandated by Carper was not funded.

They said the DAR also “grossly underperformed” in land distribution with 2012 land acquisition and distribution (LAD) targets being reduced from 260,000 hectares to 180,000 hectares.

“The farmers doubt that the target will be met. LAD accomplishment as of Dec. 13, 2012, was only 53,580 hectares of which only 29 percent are private lands,” the bishops said.

Accomplishment claim

They said the latest claims of the DAR—that the LAD accomplishment in 2012 actually reached about 116,831 hectares (implying an accomplishment of some 63,251 hectares in the two last weeks in December)—was “questionable.”

“The DAR apparently includes in  ‘LAD accomplishment’ the lands covered by the (certificates of land ownership award) registered with the Land Registration Authority, even if the land has not yet been distributed to farmers, which was the definition of ‘LAD accomplishment’ in the past,” the bishops said.

“It seems that the DAR misses the point that until the farmers actually own, possess and till their land, there is no real agrarian reform,” they said.

The bishops said that the new management systems and procedures instituted by Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes at the department resulted in more legalistic and bureaucratic layers and “hence, discontent in the ranks.”

They added that rules allowing landowners to interrupt the processing of land distribution at a much earlier stage than before were not revoked.

DAR shortcomings

The prelates also noted that no one has been held accountable for the agrarian-reform-related killings of 13 leaders of farmers’ groups which “the President said he would personally look into.”

They said the Multi-Stakeholder Task Force on Agrarian Reform that was tasked to fast-track the process and report any obstructions had not been able to hold accountable the current DAR leadership for its underperformance.

“The situation is aggravated by the protests of the DAR employees on the governance shortcomings of the DAR leadership headed by Secretary De los Reyes,” the bishops said.

“It is impossible to lead DAR and to make it do its job when its own employees have lost trust in its head,” they said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: agrarian reform , Aquino Administration , Batanes , Carper , Catholic bishops , Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines , CBCP , Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms law , Department of Agrarian Reform , Jolo , reproductive health measure

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace