Philippines: Landless sugarcane farmers block the gate of the Congress with bundles of sugarcane
According to the Department of Agriculture, one of the largest remaining areas without Notices of Coverage (NOCs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is those planted to sugar at 32%, and the province with the heaviest balance without NOCs is in Negros Occidental with more than 8,000 hectares. As the CARP expires in 2014, landowners from Negros are now calling for discontinuation of the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of the said program; therefore still on a pending status in the Congress. This is the issue farmers and CSOs are addressing by pressuring the Congress to make actions for, as the Bill on extending CARP has already been passed in the Senate in September 2014.
On 9 and 11 March, around 150 sugarcane farmers of Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (NAGKASAMA) in Batangas and Task Force Mapalad (TFM) in Negros Provinces, and CSO representatives, marched from Sandigan Bayan to the Congress and blocked the gates with bundles of sugarcane to stress how these farmers are kept landless by those who oppose agrarian reform.
Organized by the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD) and Agrarian Reform Now! network (AR Now!), the march appeals for the passage of the House Bill 4296 extending the LAD component of CARP, and the House Bill 4375 creating an independent commission on Agrarian Reform.
And on 12 March, a news posted by the GMA Network says that leaders of both houses of the Congress have agreed to pass the proposed law on extending the CARP by June.