MANILA- Filipino peasants continue to assail the program despite President Aquino's statement pushing for a full agrarian reform in 2016 last Tuesday.
As according to the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, it stated that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines should rethink their position over the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extended with Reforms (Carper), describing it as "bogus and anti-peasant."
“We support the legitimate demand for land of the marching farmers but with all due respect to Bishop Pabillo, CARP is not a land reform program. CARP is an instrument of big landlords to strengthen their monopoly and control over the lands. It serves as a counter-insurgency program to water down the peasantry’s struggle for genuine land reform,” says KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores.
The said statement is made in response in a letter dated June 1 to the President from the Most Reverend Broderick S. Pabillo, head of the National Social Action Center of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), and Rev. Fr. Marlon Lacal, executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines.
According to the two religious superiors, the letter simply lamented that the current administration had been “consistently underperforming in implementing the Carper, particularly the LAD (land acquisition and distribution)" as it said:
“The current DAR administration has recorded the lowest CARP accomplishment when compared to all DAR-CARP administrations...With this appalling situation, farmers and tillers become restless and desperate. They fear the winds of August 2014, the end year of the extended period of CARP. They have fought for land reform for decades and fear that it will be all for naught,”
However, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad stated that the present administration "will try its best to complete the program by the time the Aquino administration completes its term," also noted that the government was now dealing mostly with private agricultural lands, “where landowner opposition is strong.”
The said landowner opposition, aside from Cojuangco's Hacienda Luisita, includes those from Hacienda Looc, Canlubang Sugar Estate and Roxas-Araneta lands in Bulacan, wherein it involves military intervention on behalf of the landowners against the peasants.
"concrete cases where landlords made use of the Carper to evade land distribution,” Flores stated. “In the three (3) years of Carper, and worst, 21 years of its predecessor CARP, the Filipino peasantry remains landless and continue to suffer feudal and semi-feudal exploitation at the hands of big landlords."
The KMP, along with other progressive groups, are still pushing for the enactment of the House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that involves free, direct and equal distribution of arable land over peasants and farmworkers, and also warned against an attempt for reversal of its ruling on Hacienda Luisita after former Chief Justice Renato Corona's approval distributing the said sugar estate to its farmworkers.