Philippine CARP extension with reforms law passed
(source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer.net, June 10; http://carpernow.multiply.com)
MANILA, Philippines- The congressional bicameral conference committee finally approved last June 9 the bill extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another five years. The program is set to expire this month.
The CARPer (CARP with Extension and Reforms) Law will now be sent back to the Senate and the House of Representatives for ratification before it is submitted to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for signature.
Congress is now on recess but it will resume its sessions to act on the measure next month in time for the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Upon ratification, the bill will take effect on July 1.
Agrarian reform advocates from the Reform CARP Movement attest that the consolidated version contains majority of the original reforms being lobbied for by farmers groups.
Two important features of the new law are the retention of compulsory land acquisition as a mode of redistribution and the P150 billion funding for the extended program. Forty percent of the budget is allotted to support services with credit to farmers.
The bill also provides for land distribution of up to a maximum of three hectares each to qualified beneficiaries first before distributing the remaining portion of the landholding to other beneficiaries.
The following are the other salient points of the Bicam-approved CARPER:
- ban on conversion of all irrigated and irrigable lands into other uses to protect and prevent depletion of agricultural lands;removed provision on conversion for aquaculture, poultry and swine, etc.
- requirement of actual and peaceful installation of beneficiaries;
- indefeasibility of the Emancipation Patent or Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA);
- recognition of the legal personality of farmers;
- exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform;
- creation of women’s desk in all agrarian reform communities
- continuing appropriation
- joint oversight committee
- indetermination of just compensation (removed “potential use”)
- land acquisition and distribution and voluntary offer to sell retained as the only modes of distribution; other modes were removed.
While “killer” provisions were included, such as the landowner’s attestation of beneficiaries and priority on tenants and regular farmworkers as qualified beneficiaries, the advocates feel safety nets were inserted to dilute these.
Members of the Senate panel, who participated in the deliberations, were Senators Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the committee on agrarian reforms, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Richard Gordon and Pia Cayetano.
Congressman Elias Bulut, Honasan’s counterpart, led the House panel along with Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, among others.
“We are happy with the approval of the Bicam report on CARPer,” Hontiveros said. “On the eve of CARP’s 22nd anniversary, we are resuscitating a program that promises justice for our farmers.
“We dedicate this victory to Ka Rene Peñas, whose life and struggle will always inspire us,” Hontiveros said, referring to the farmer leader of Sumilao, Bukidnon province who was slain on June 5.
Peñas was one of the participants in the 1,770-kilometer “walk for land, walk for justice” of Sumilao farmers in October 2007 meant to prod the government to award the land their families had been tilling for decades.
At the time of his death he was a barangay councilor (kagawad) of San Vicente and national vice president of the Pakisama or Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (National Movement of Peasant Organizations).