Farmers march on Palace demanding true reform | Inquirer News

Farmers march on Palace demanding true reform

Different militant organizations and farmers march towards Mendiola near Malacanang palace in Manila from Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City, Monday, on the last day of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) law.  NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines–Some 1,000 farmers marched on Malacañang on Monday to mark the expiration of what they called a “bogus” Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and to call for the free distribution of land to farmers.

Dubbed as the “Lakbayan ng mga Biktima ng CARP para sa Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa,” the march from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office in Quezon City to Mendiola near the palace was joined by farmers from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol.


The marchers, led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), noted the unsettled disputes involving the 6,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita, the 8,650-ha Hacienda Looc in Nasgbu, Batangas, and the 3,500-ha Araneta Estate in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.


The marchers burned a 10-foot effigy of President Aquino wearing a US flag on arriving at Mendiola.

“We want to send a strong message to the President and the proponents of the CARP extension bill that we have had enough lies, deception and violence inflicted by the sham CARP on the peasantry,” said KMP chair Rafael Mariano.

Mariano assailed House Bill No. 4296, which granted a two-year extension to the 26-year-old CARP, saying the act was “nothing but an exercise in futility.”

Independent labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the CARP had been the “longest-running” and “most expensive” land reform program in the world.

“It has not resulted in the distribution of land to farmers but only legalized the concentration of land in the hands of a few landowning families,” said KMU chair Elmer Labog.

The Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (Sara), for its part, sought on Monday an independent audit on the performance of the DAR and other agrarian reform-implementing agencies.


Sara, an umbrella coalition of farmers seeking effective agrarian reform, said a “high-level independent commission of upright and publicly credible citizens with legal powers” would reveal the true gains of CARP.

The commission is among the major demands raised during the June 6 People’s Agrarian Reform Congress.

“DAR’s reports remain questionable and are padded. We need an independent evaluation of DAR’s and other CARP-implementing agencies’ past and present performance to determine the state of agrarian reform in the country,” Sara spokesperson Trinidad Domingo said.

“Where are the exact lands that still need to be distributed? What happened to the farmers who were given land? How much land reported by the DAR as accomplishments are truly in the hands of farmers, who have received adequate support services? These are questions the DAR has declined to answer,” Domingo said.

The groups criticized the DAR’s performance which they said had slowed down rather than fast-tracked land distribution. They said farmers’ rights were also routinely violated by landlords.

The coalition spokesperson also questioned Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes’ figures on land distribution.

“What is the basis for the 78,303 hectares [that have not yet been covered by land reform]? Where are these lands? Where is the master list of lands to be distributed? There is no way for us to verify if these lands, which still need to be distributed, are not underestimated,” Domingo said.

The coalition welcomed House Bill No. 4296 and Senate Bill No. 1288, which extend the issuance of notices of coverage and ensure a budget for another two years. However, it said that all efforts would remain futile as long as De los Reyes remained head of DAR.


CARPER: Latest Chapter in Agri Reform Battle 

Land distribution under Carper way off target by 50%

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Originally posted: 6:20 pm | Monday, June 30th, 2014

TAGS: activism, Agriculture, CARP, Carper, Farmers, march, Mendiola, protest, rally

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