National News: In the Name of CARP, Bishops, Farmers Meet with Cabinet Men to Push for CARP Implementation
Bouyed by support from 48 Catholic prelates, hundreds of protesting landless farmers converged in Manila to push for the completion of CARPer by June 2014. Tired but unfazed, the farmers affiliated with Task Force Mapalad, heard holy mass officiated by Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, a staunch ally who had demanded that Malacañang should just fulfill its mandate of completing CARPer and not offer excuses.
Farmers from Mindanao, Negros and Batangas who marched from their homes to press President Aquino to complete the implementation of agrarian reform program until 2014 reached Mendiola on June 8, 2012. They were accompanied by Bishop Roderick Pabillo, some priests and supporters for the final leg of the protest-march from the Caritas headquarters in UN Avenue to Mendiola near the palace.*(HO: Task Force Mapalad)
Task Force Mapalad farmers (TFM) look forward to talks with the President who stated (from London) that he is willing to discuss "doables" with them when he arrives.
In a meeting with Palace officials, TFM pushed for major non-negotiable positions to ensure the full implementation of CARPer in 2014 and the full distribution of 1.093 hectares of backlogs.
TFM-Negros President Alberto Jayme stated that they demand of the President to issue an official pronouncement that will effectively make him in charge of ensuring that CARP completion by 2014 is put to task by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
To fast-track Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD), all Notices of Coverage (NOC) should be issued before the current year ends to manage dilatory and obstruction tactics of landowners. Among TFM cases alone, there are still 142 private agricultural lands (14,078 hectares) without NOCs covering Negros Occidental, Davao and Bukidnon.
All pending cases should be fast-tracked and to actual distribution and installation of farmer beneficiaries to the land. Among TFM CARP-covered cases alone, there are still 81 lands (6,756 hectares) for Field Investigation and Survey; 9 landholdings for ASP Approved Survey Plan (ASP) and farmer-beneficiary selection (893 hectares) 49 lands (4,398 hectares) for valuation/ pending at Land Bank; 7 lands (178 hectares) for CLOA registration and 9 landholdings (1,666 hectares) for installation.
From July 2010 to April 2012, under the Aquino administration, the DAR has only distributed a total of 209,797 hectares.
During the said period, only the following had been distributed in the specific provinces: 3,219 hectares in Negros Occidental; 4,864 hectares in Bukidnon, and 1,513 hectares in Davao Oriental.
Jayme also demanded government to realign its human and material resources to areas where there is a huge backlog of undistributed PALs (private agricultural lands) especially those 50 hectares and above. Also, underperforming Municipal Agrarian Officials (MARO) should not be tolerated.
This is in response to the lack of personnel on the ground and inability of MAROs to perform their duties that DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes had been stating as reasons for the delays in CARP processes on the ground.
TFM also demanded that in the light of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on November 22, (Hacienda Luisita Case) ineffective Stock Distribution Option cases should immediately be reviewed and lands be distributed to the farmers.
Further, to hasten land distribution, TFM insists for a review of Administrative Order (AO) 9 s.2011 and AO 7 which have far reaching implications in the implementation of the CARP as it provides an avenue for recalcitrant landowners to further delay the implementation of the program. It has the effect on halting all movements of CARP folders until after a Supreme Court final decision on CARP protests from landowners.
The farmers have also asked that the President immediately call for a Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) meeting to discuss and lay down the policies in fast-tracking LAD in the next two years. A multi-stakeholders mechanism, that includes a representative from Malacañang, should be established to monitor the fast-tracking of LAD completion. This, the farmers say, will ensure them that President Aquino works hands-on for land reform.
"We also ask the President to stop further slashing yearly budget allocations for CARP implementation and for DAR to fully utilize the monies allocated to fast track LAD," Jayme stressed. CARP budget allocations had been cut in the last two years. The whole program has a Congress-appropriated budget of P150 Billion.
On De los Reyes’s underperformance, Jayme said that "CARP is a constitutional program that must use state power to be implemented. If he can move post haste on the land transfer of Hacienda Luisita, he would be able to do the same to the other landholding."
To seriously complete the program and scale up the means of livelihood of the farmer beneficiaries, TFM stated that delivery of support services must be given emphasis in the next two years and beyond.
"We were able to occupy our lands since 2007 but we have not received a significant support service from DAR. We have tilled the land on our own and we need support in order to make it more productive," Eledelyn Paclibar, CLOA holder of former Hacienda Velez-Malaga in Negros Occidental said.
"The agrarian reform program was never intended by CARPer to stop by 2014 because the farmers are supposed to be given support services (including subsidized credit and equity support) for at least 10 years during the difficult transition from tenant/farmworker to owner-cultivator," Jayme stated.*