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Aquino assures farmers gov’t will complete CARP

President Benigno S. Aquino III INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III met with a select group of farmers on Tuesday, assuring them that his administration has always been and would remain to be “committed” to distributing lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the end of his term in 2016.

The meeting was apparently meant to allay fears that land distribution under CARP—a centerpiece program of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino—would remain unfinished even after the term of the second Aquino to become president.

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Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday Mr. Aquino had a “very good discussion” with the farmers’ representatives, who included Armanda Jarilla of Task Force Mapalad and Maribel Luzara of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bundok Peninsula.

“He’s committed to the full implementation of the CARP. So, he’s committed to the full implementation of land acquisition and land distribution until 2016,” Lacierda said in a press briefing.

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In the meeting, Lacierda said the President briefed the group about the remaining hectares of land that still had to be issued notices of coverage (NOCs) by the Department of Agrarian Reform.

NOCs need to be issued before the DAR could proceed with land acquisition and distribution.

But the President also made it clear that landholdings still caught in legal disputes would have to be settled through judicial processes, not by the executive branch, his spokesperson said.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes earlier admitted that the government could only acquire and distribute between 500,000 and 700,000 hectares of land by 2016.

As of December 2013, the government still had to distribute 790,648 hectares covered by CARP, which will expire by the end of the month.

“You’re going through varying degrees of hectarage and private ownership. And you would certainly expect some issues, concerns when it comes to implementation especially if you would place private lands under CARP,” Lacierda said.

“The DAR, under the leadership of Secretary Gil Delos Reyes, will pursue and continue to issue those notices of coverage on or before June 30.”

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The President earlier certified as urgent a House bill extending the issuance of NOCs until 2016. Lacierda said the Palace was still awaiting the committee report on a counterpart bill at the Senate.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas earlier assailed CARP, saying it “has intensified landlessness among farmers and paved the way for continuous landgrabbing across the country by big local and foreign agribusinesses, agricultural transnational corporations and real estate giants.”

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TAGS: agrarian reform, Agriculture, Armand Jarilla, Benigno Aquino III, CARP, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, Farmers, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bundok Peninsula, land distribution, Land Reform, Maribel Luzara, News, Philippine president, Task Force Mapalad
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