MANILA - Malacanang assured agrarian reform advocates that land reform will continue despite the lapse of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law on Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, however, said that when it comes to President Aquino’s family-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, there are snags in the distribution as pointed out by some farmers groups.
“It has been covered. We have started… We have started distribution… Let me check but it has been covered. There has been no… We have started to… Nagawa na ‘yung mga mohon. Ang nangyari kasi, some groups wanted the groups themselves to have the titles in their names. DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) said ‘no, you can’t do that’. We have to give the CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award) to each and every individual farmer. So that is what we are doing right now, the process of titling the CLOA (Certificate of Land Ownership Award) to specific farmers.
Lacierda could not immediately give details as to how many Luisita parts have been given to farmers. “We will give you the details. I’ll give the details. ‘Yon ang commitment, 2016. That is under the law as well.”
Lacierda, later on, explained that so far, over 6,000 farmer-beneficiaries have received farmlands from Luisita. These comprise the part of the hacienda covered by a Supreme Court ruling. Another part of the hacienda has been issued a notice of coverage and is undergoing processing.
Lacierda dismissed calls for Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes to be removed from his office.
“‘Yung sa CARPER [CARP extension with reforms[ po, nasabi na po ni Secretary Gil de los Reyes, patuloy po ang land distribution. So the end of CARPER does not mean the end of land distribution. We are in the process of distributing lands based on those properties, based on those land holdings that have been issued Notices of Coverage. So hindi po...Patuloy po ‘yan. We want to assure our farmers that land distribution continues.”
Lacierda added, “Mahirap po talaga ang trabaho ng isang kalihim ng agraryong pang-reporma kasi dalawa ang stakeholders mo na who are seemingly in contradiction with each other. One are the farmers who would certainly love to acquire the farms; and one are the land holders who would like to make sure that if they do part with it, there is just compensation. So these are two forces that the Department of Agrarian Reform has to balance in the light of the CARPER LAW; that there is a mandate to distribute lands but how we go about doing that may not necessarily be satisfactory to either the farmers, the farmer groups, and either to the land holders.
"We have gone down… The early part of CARP, ang kina-CARP kasi natin ‘yung mga huge government holdings na walang problema sa taumbayan because these are government lands. Pwedeng kunin kaagad. We are now going through land holdings which are owned by private individuals na talagang there will expectedly be resistance. And so, there was dissatisfaction na bakit sa panig ng mga magsasaka, bakit ang tagal-tagal, bakit hindi inaayos. Sa panig naman ng mga land owners, teka, tama ba ‘yung ginagagawa ninyo? Tama ba ‘yung just compensation. So may ganoong klaseng conflict kaya mahirap talaga ang trabaho niya. But na-mandate na po ni… Si Secretary Gil de los Reyes has been committed to pursuing and to issue Notices of Coverage. In fact, naka-issue siya until today, last day na ngayon ng issuance of Notice of Coverage. But, yes, there has been significant improvements on the amount of land holdings being covered by CARP.”
Farmers led by the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) and Anakpawis party list marched from the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City to the historic Mendiola Bridge in Manila demanding for a new and genuine land reform program.
“The bogus CARP is dead and it’s a total failure. Vast haciendas remain intact, under the control of big landlords and agri-businesses, and the Filipino peasantry are still landless,” said KMP chair Rafael Mariano.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon claimed that President Benigno Aquino III and his allies in Congress prove to be the “greatest hindrance to genuine land reform.”
“Today, the 26-year-old agrarian reform program will draw to a close, yet millions of tillers in the country have yet to glimpse their happy ending,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said.
Even pro-administration Akbayan party-list, for its part, reiterated the importance of ensuring the continuity of the land reform program under Republic Act 9700.
Under RA 9700 or CARP extension with reforms (CARPER), the government is given until June 30, 2014 to implement CARP.