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Panay tillers stage protests vs 24-yr-old CARP

/ 06:13 PM June 11, 2012

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines–Farmers’ groups in Panay held protest actions on Monday to mark the 24th year of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and called for the scrapping of the law and for genuine agrarian reform.

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Around 80 representatives of farmers groups from Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan assembled at the ground of the Iloilo provincial capitol at noon before marching to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.

The marchers carrying placards and streamers made a brief stopover at the Plazoletagay, the city’s main intersection, and held a short program.

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The groups that joined the protest included the Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (Pamanggas) or the Alliance of Farmers in Panay and Guimaras, Federation of Iloilo Farmers Associations, Katilingban sang mga Mangunguma sa Capiz (Association of Capiz Farmers) and the Pagtililibyog it mga Mangunguma sa Aklan (Association of Aklan Farmers).

The protesters decried the alleged failure of CARP, which was passed on June 10, 1988 under the administration of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, mother of President Aquino.

“For 24 years, the CARP has not only failed in distributing land to the tillers but has even worsened the centuries-old bondage of farmers to wealthy landlord families,” said Pamanggas secretary general and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator Cris Chavez.

Chavez, in a press conference, said they are calling for the scrapping of the CARP and the passing of House Bill 374 or the “Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill,” which is pending in Congress.

The bill provides, among others, the free distribution to farmers-beneficiaries of lands covered by agrarian reform.

Chavez said the landmark decision of the Supreme Court that ordered the distribution of lands in Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by Mr. Aquino’s Cojuangco relatives, to around 5,000 farmers was proof of the failure of the CARP rather than as showcase of a successful agrarian reform law.

“The farmers of Hacienda Luisita finally won their right over their land after a long and bloody struggle and because it was a high profile issue. But in most areas in the country, millions of farmers are still landless despite generations of their families tilling land,” he said.

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The protesters held an overnight camp-out at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand where cultural and video presentations were held.

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