CARP extension OK but not necessary, says DAR chief
MANILA, Philippines—Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes on Friday welcomed the proposed five-year extension of the agrarian reform law, but said it was “not necessary, but it won’t hurt either.”
Delos Reyes said there was no urgent need to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by another five years upon its expiration in June 2014.
He said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) could still effectively fulfill its mandate of redistributing land to farmers even if the CARP extension with reforms law, or Carper, was terminated.
Delos Reyes said the DAR would still be able to acquire and distribute land to legitimate beneficiaries provided the agency was able to issue notices of coverage to landholdings before Carper’s expiration.
“We can still distribute all those landholdings to which we have issued a notice of coverage even beyond the expiration of Carper,” he said in an interview.
Delos Reyes said some 500,000 to 600,000 landholdings were still in the process of being issued notices of coverage. But the DAR had already completed the coverage of 70 percent of all agricultural lands under its jurisdiction, he added.
A new bill is pending at the House of Representatives to extend the CARP by another five years.
The bill filed by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and his brother Maximo of Abante Mindanao seeks the extension of Carper until
June 30, 2019. The law expires on June 30, 2014.
In June 1988, the government of then President Corazon Aquino enacted the CARP through Republic Act No. 6657 seeking a more equitable distribution of agricultural lands to farmers and farm workers.
Extended until 2014
Subsequent amendments in Congress extended it until 2014, even though critics questioned the effectiveness of the law in resolving agrarian inequities, including the case of Hacienda Luisita, a sugar estate owned by President Aquino’s family.
In what was seen as an attempt to evade CARP coverage, the management of Hacienda Luisita offered farmers an option to own stocks instead of land in the late 1980s, prompting a long legal battle which the farmers eventually won.
In May the Supreme Court upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the stock distribution option and to order the redistribution of 4,915 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to 6,296 farm workers.
In an earlier interview, Delos Reyes estimated that some 900,000 hectares of land covered by Carper were still up for distribution to between 400,000 and 500,000 farmers.
Another 300,000 hectares will still be left to distribute by the time the Carper expires in 2014, although ideally, all these shall have been issued notices of coverage by that time, he added.
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