Negros Farmers Favor CARP ExtensionJanuary 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 16, 2008) – Some 200 farmers from various haciendas in Negros Occidental province in central Philippines have trooped in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office to urge government action on land cases pending under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The farmers urged Manila and Congress to enact a law extending the CARP beyond 2008 and ensuring provisions for resolution of existing land cases and the distribution of the remaining CARP backlog of 1.2 million hectares of private agricultural lands.
Jose Rodito Angeles, president of the Task Force Mapalad, said extending the CARP would benefit millions of people while ending CARP would only benefit a few individuals, including two Negros Occidental landowners Congressmen Ignacio Arroyo who is President Gloria Arroyo’s brother-in-law and Jeffrey Ferrer.
Angeles noted that among all provinces, Negros Occidental has the highest land acquisition and distribution (LAD) backlog, accounting for 180,00 hectares of private agricultural lands.
Angeles said DAR had admitted that the province has the highest LAD backlog because of resistance and political maneuvers by big landowners who are against CARP.
“Big landowners here, including Representatives Arroyo and Ferrer, are calling for a review of CARP before any extension. Actually, they are calling for an end to CARP to prevent the distribution of their land,” he said.
Earlier, farmers of the 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan, owned by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, had called on the government to order the distribution of the hacienda as proof of her promised “legacy” in the remaining years of the President’s term.
“The President said she wanted the remaining years of her presidency to become the legacy phase. Distribution of Hacienda Bacan could be part of that legacy,” said Edna Sobrecaray, TFM-Negros spokesperson.
Hacienda Bacan in the village of Guintubhan in Isabela town was placed under CARP coverage in 1996 through compulsory acquisition.
In 2001, following President Arroyo’s announcement that she would distribute the family-owned lands, the hacienda was offered by Rep. Arroyo to CARP under voluntary offer to sell (VOS).
However, the Land Bank of the Philippines refused to process the hacienda’s claim folder saying Arroyo had no authority to voluntarily sell the property since the President’s husband was the real landowner.
DAR said it had asked the First Gentleman to issue a letter of intent for VOS, but to date no such letter had been issued, the group said.
Sobrecaray said: “Iggy (Rep. Arroyo) had been unethical in calling for a review of CARP when his real intention was to push for its non-extension and save the hacienda of his brother from being distributed under CARP.”
Sobrecaray said members of the House of Representatives who have families with big landholdings should inhibit themselves from the issue of CARP extension.