by Save Agrarian Reform Alliance on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 2:14pm
MANILA, Philippines – The group that tagged Pres.Benigno S. Aquino III the “worst President since 1988,” in terms ofComprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) performance, seriously doubts the sincerityof Malacanang in completing land distribution by 2014 and in implementingCARPER. The Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA) has slammed Malacanang forgiving farmers mixed signals on its real intent and plan.
“Noong una sinabi nila ‘on track’ daw ang repormangagraryo. Tapos noong isang araw, sinabi ni Sec. Florencio Abad na 2016 dawtatapusin ni PNoy ang pagpapaptupad ng programa. Tapos ngayon naman 2014.Niloloko ba nila kami?” asked Trinidad Domingo, spokesperson of SARA and leaderof Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan. (Theyinitially declared that agrarian reform was on track. The other day Secretary Florencio Abad saidP-noy will complete agrarian reform implementation in 2016; then now,2014. Are they fooling us?)
SARA further reproached Secretary Abad, former head of theDepartment of Agrarian Reform (DAR), for allegedly proposing a zero budget forDAR in 2014. The plan is part of the exit plan and close shop of DAR, which wasmentioned in the 2012 General Appropriations Act. Options are being discussedby the Aquino government, but farmers are left out in the dark as to what constitutes the exit plan, leadersof SARA said.
“Sa tingin namin ‘graceful exit’ ni Pangulong Aquino ang2016. Kung seryoso talaga sila sa pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo, hindi dapatganyan ang sinabi ni Secretary Abad. Wala pa nga silang malinaw na plano kungpaano tatapusin ang programa. Si (DAR) Sec. Gil delos Reyes naman, puro palusotlang,” said Eduardo Mora of Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas and member ofSARA. (We see 2016 as President Aquino’s‘graceful exit’. If government is seriously looking at the completion ofagrarian reform, Sec. Abad shouldn’t have said that. This only shows thatgovernment doesn’t have a concrete plan on how to complete the program.)
SARA is dismayed over the many excuses made by Sec.Delos Reyes for the snail-paced implementation of the program. According toSec. Delos Reyes, he is left with distributing contentious private agriculturallandholdings while previous administrations distributed “easy government-owned lands, voluntary land transfers, andvoluntary-offer-to-sell”, which are less tedious and less contentious.”
“But majority of the land distributedby DAR in 2011 are still government-owned lands, 43,379.76 hectares and thoseunder the voluntary-offer-to sell scheme, 26,163.82 hectares. These figurescombined amount to 61% of DAR’s accomplishment for 2011,” said SARA.
SARA also slammed the DAR Secretary for claiming that his department has more than enough budget to implement the program. For the2012 budget, P2.5 billion is earmarked for compensable land, which can only payfor 30,000 to 40,000 hectares of land, farbelow than their 240,247 hectares of land target for this year.
SARA is alarmed over the solution for fast tracking landdistribution proposed by Secretary delos Reyes. Administrative Order No. 7 (AO7) series of 2011 restrains DAR from transferring the land title in the name ofthe government, pending protest and application for exclusion and exemption bythe landowner.
“This will not expedite land distribution, but will furtherslow it down.,” stressed Maribel Luzara, president of Kilusang Magbubukid saBondoc Peninsula and member of KATARUNGAN.
“Agad na naapektuhan ng AO 7 ang lupang ipinaglalabannamin. Dahil sa AO 7, ayaw saklawin ng DAR ang 639 ektaryang lupa na bahagi ng1,716 ektaryang Hacienda Matias sa Bondoc Peninsula kahit ito pa ay nabayaranna ng Land Bank at pag-aari na ng gobyerno. Noong 2011, nasa listahan ng targetng DAR ang Hacienda Matias pero pagkatapos nilang ilabas ang AO 7, nawala na satarget para sa 2012 at hindi kami sigurado kung sasaklawin pa ito sa 2013,” lamentedLuzara. (Immediately, AO7 has animpact on the lands we are fighting for. AO7 prohbits DAR from placing under coverage 639 hectares of the 1,716hectares of Hacienda Matias in the Bondoc Peninsula, although Land Bank alreadypaid for these. In 2011, these lands inSan Matias were still covered by agrarian reform but aftar AO7, the lands wereexcluded this year. We are not sure ifthe lands will be covered in 2013)
“Puro sila daldal. Kailangan namin, aksyon!” exclaimedDomingo. (Talk is cheap. We need action!)
Domingo said that the coalition initially welcomed Malacanang’s pronouncement to open its doors to farmers. But SARA was not officially invited by PNoy’s cabinet members, though deputy speaker Abigail Valte earlier had said they were willing to cooperate with farmers groups and had asked for information on the gaps in implementation. SARA is releasing its State of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines, a product of research and field consultations, as a way to commemorate the anniversary of CARP June 10.
“Patuloy naming kakalampagin si Pangulong Aquino hanggangmakamit namin ang tunay na reporma sa lupa. Hinding hindi naming siyatatantanan,” stressed Domingo. (We will continue to push governmentfor the genuine implementation of land reform. We are not backing down now.)
SARA is a coalition of farmers, rural women, individualadvocates and NGOs campaigning for the just, effective, immediate andsubstantive implementation of agrarian reform in the country. Its membersinclude 10 national farmers’ federations: Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, KATARUNGAN,Makabayan-Pilipinas, Nagkakaisang Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, BUKAL, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka, PARAGOS-Pilipinas, Pambansang Koalisyon ng ma Kababaihan saKanayunan, Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Makabayang Magbubukid, and PambansangKatipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas