Activists protest CARP extension

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2014 12:05 AM | Updated as of Feb 06 2014 08:05 AM

MANILA -- Members of the Save the Agrarian Reform Alliance picketed outside the Batasan Pambansa on Wednesday to protest plans to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another 5 years.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said that instead of discussing the extension for CARP, the lower House should consider House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

"A new land reform program is necessary and urgent. Twenty-six years of CARP proved that previous and existing land reform programs failed to give resolution to the decades-old problem of landlessness in the country," said Hicap, raising a strong opposition to House Bill 3305 filed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez.

Hicap claimed that CARP is the most expensive land reform in the world.

"Since 1972, or from the time Presidential Decree 27 was enforced up to June 2005, total approved Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) compensation to 83,203 landowners for only 1.3 million hectares has already reached P41.6 billion ($783.2 million, based on an exchange rate of P53.115 per US dollar) in cash and bonds, or an average of P500,463 ($9422.25) per landlord. The five-year extension of CARP or CARPER, (2009-2014) also has a P150-billion budgetary allocation," Hicap said.

"CARP failed to break up land monopoly throughout the country. Vast tract of lands, haciendas and land estates remain under the control and ownership of a few landed families. It legalized and intensified land grabbing through various forms of land conversions allowed by CARP," he said.

The Kabataan party-list also criticized the same bill on Wednesday.

“The youth sector is highly critical of the proposed measures that Congress is set to tackle today. For not only has CARP and its extension law failed to deliver its proverbial ‘promised land’ to the nation’s tillers, but the implementation of the said law has led to further marginalization of the peasant sector,” said Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.