ENACT GENUINE AGRARIAN REFORM BILL NOW!
Position Paper for the Visayas GARB On-site Hearing
Land is life for the Filipino farmers. But for twenty three years under the implementation of the government’s land reform, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) now with Extension and Reforms (CARPER), life has never been fun for five out of ten palay farmers in the region who until now do not own the land they till and are still bound by the tenancy system. CARP failed to break the land monopoly in the country – private land monopoly remains intact. Here in the region, from 1972 until 2008, more than 75% of the lands distributed under the land program of the government came from public lands and less than 25% came from the private lands. Moreover, for the past years, CARP acted as an instrument for the legal maneuver of the landlord class in acquiring larger portion of land legally-owned by the farmers. It fell short of its vision as pronounced by then President Corazon Aquino that the said land reform program will “reflect a true liberation of the Filipino from the clutches of landlordism”.
With CARPER, there’s no genuine land reform. Agrarian system became even more at a rheumatic stage with the intensification of feudal and semi-feudal system at the country-sides.
CARP implementation in the region is very slow with only about 80% accomplishment since 1972. Land distribution is also anomalous. Criminalization of agrarian cases is also extensive. Below are some of the cases in contest.
Leyte Sab-a Basin Area
1. Cancellation of CLOA from the 144 Farmer Beneficiaries of 429 hectares at the tri-boundary of Tacloban, San Miguel and Alang-lang due to erroneous recommendation of DENR. Farmers were driven out of their farmlands by Associate Justice Vicente Veloso and DAR was not able to defend the farmers. DAR promised to reinvestigate but investigation was biased. Dialogues transpired between the FBs and DAR, DAR always promises to investigate and revalidate the lands. But DAR always fails to meet the farmers’ demands in favor of Associate Justice Veloso. Now, DAR is in the process of awarding the lands to “actual tillers” (the goons of Justice Veloso because the original farmers have been driven out).
2. “Illegal entry” case filed against the farmer-beneficiaries of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte who were only planning to “balik-uma” (re-cultivate/re-position) their land. Until now the legitimate CLOA holders are not in position of their lands.
Margarita Agro-Industrial Estate (MAIC) case at San Isidro, Leyte
Farmers won the case over 704 hectares vs MAIC in early 2000. 402 hectares were distributed to the FBs but until now they don’t have the CLOA yet. But the 302 hectares were not properly distributed to the FBs. Farm allotted to farmer leaders is very small (0.15 hectare) while others were not given.
List of beneficiaries from DAR is also dubious.
Lands being sold to “new owners” (businessmen and local politicians).
When asking for updates on their case, farmers are tossed over between DAR Province and MARO.
CALI Realty Corporation, Enriquez estate (Tacloban City)
Farmers developed the area and planted the 48.97 hectare-farmland with vegetables, root crops, rice/corn/coconut and banana.
City land use plan classified the land as Non-agricultural area even if there are actual land tillers. 5 hectares of the land were exempted from CARP even if the land is agri-productive. The land was put under the Eastern Visayas Regional Groth Center (EVRGC).
24 farmers were subjected to as illegal occupants of a light industrial area (EVRGC). Case is on going. Enriquez negotiated with the farmers to allot home lots instead of farm lots to the farmers but the FBs did not accept.
At present, farmers are not allowed in to farm and are being driven out. But the farmers resist ejectment and area facing collectively the case against them.
Some 50 farmers organized as a fisher folk cooperative were evicted from a fishpond foreclosed by DBP, of which these farmers became beneficiaries under CARP.
With CARP, land use conversion and crop conversion are also tolerated leaving lesser area planted to rice and vegetable for local food consumption.
Almost 30% of the total land area in the region is under mining application/operation. Farm lands and some irrigated at that are under mining operation such as in MacArthur, Leyte.
Farms planted to rice, corn, root crops and vegetables are getting smaller while export crops are becoming bigger. In 1985 before CARP, 43.26% are planted for export, it increased to 50.62% in 1994 and 60% to 2002 while only 25% are planted for rice and other food for consumption.
Jathropa, cassava, mango, jack fruit, dragon fruit, and pineapple are encouraged in Agrarian Reform Communities such as in ARCs of Borongan in Eastern Samar,
With CARP, support subsidy for agriculture and productivity is slightly felt or none at all. With CARP, life indeed is not fun.
It is in these insights that we, Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB), the broadest peasant alliance in the region together with our provincial chapters Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA), Kahugpungan han mga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Samar (KAPASS), Kapunungan han mga Parag-uma ha Western Samar (KAPAWA) and Kapunuan han mga Parag-uma ha Leyte (KAGPAL) formally express our strong opposition to CARPER. As an alternative we support and strongly call for the enactment of GARB.
We advocate for the enactment of GARB because it will distribute all potential agricultural lands for free to deserving farmers/persons and will complete the distribution and implementation in just five years. Thus, it will break the decade-long problem on land monopoly from the landlords and foreign-agro-business corporations and will ensure that land re-concentration would not happen again. It will also provide for the comprehensive and all-out productivity support through the introduction of cooperative process of production.
We call for the scrapping of CARPER. We uphold and support for the enactment of GARB, HB 374 for the attainment of genuine land reform with the principles of land to the tillers, land for the landless, land for productivity and food security.