Landowner-oligarchs blamed for poverty
THE CHIEF of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) blamed “landowner-oligarchs” for the continued poverty of farmers in the country, 28 years since the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and even with 88 percent of agrarian reform lands already distributed.
In a statement on Tuesday, DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano pointed out that “More than 28 years have passed after the implementation of CARP, still, there are no indications that the life of the Filipino tenant-farmer has improved.” This, despite almost 4,802,000 hectares, or 88.6 percent of 5,415,000 hectares of agrarian reform lands already distributed to 2,790 beneficiaries since the CARP was implemented, he added.
The agriculture and agrarian reform sectors remained the lowest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product, at only 9.49 percent in the first quarter of 2016, Mariano noted.
He said the problem was compounded by the Philippines importing food products amounting to a billion dollars annually, and by land conversion, which further decreased agricultural lands and food security.
Mariano said he believed the problem was rooted to “collusion between and among landlord-oligarchs.”
“At the end of the day, we will go back to the issue of oligarchy and why there is a need for a genuine agrarian reform law,” the DAR chief said.
Mariano said he had been receiving reports of farmer-cooperatives being “duped” by former landowners into forming business ventures that only worsened the economic condition of these farmers and in which only the landowner profited from the arrangement.
Nevertheless, Mariano said the DAR would fully investigate why farmers are still struggling with poverty despite the large agrarian reform coverage.