The demand of peasants and agricultural workers for land for peasants, agricultural workers, and national minorities, and not for landlords.
By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
MANILA – Farmers and land reform advocates trooped to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Mendiola on the 31st year of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), June 10.
The protest action demands the government to acknowledge that the CARP was never been an answer to the problems that the farmers and agricultural workers are facing.
“Laws such as CARPeR and CARP only concentrated land to a few landlords and enabled them to grab and control from thousands to hundreds of thousands of hectares of land that should have been in the hands of farmers who till the land. The basic and primary problem of landlessness only worsened under the Duterte regime,” Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao said in Filipino.
The peasant masses that gathered yesterday also called for the government to be held accountable for the killings, fabricated search and arrest warrants, and imprisonment of farmers. Since President Rodrigo Duterte administration began, there have been 207 documented killings of farmers.
“During 31 years of CARP, farmers were not given land to till, the conditions even worsened in the countryside. The Duterte administration gave away Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) but farmers are demanding actual and physical land distribution. It is not enough to get CLOA, which may easily be canceled and revoked,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
According to KMP, there are 201,604 CLOA and Emancipation Patents (EPs) pledged only to farmer-beneficiaries. The peasant group said that in paper and in essence, farmers do not own the land awarded to them. There are still reported issues of land grabbing, land-use conversion, and other conflicts that hamper the farmers’ actual possession of the land they till.
“Most agrarian reform beneficiaries do not have control over the kand. They may have certificates but they could not own the land because of the presence of big plantations,” Casilao said.
In 2016, Casilao, together with the Makabayan Bloc, filed House Bill 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Act.
GARB proponents said that land monopoly is a big factor in the stagnation of Philippine agriculture, pointing out the failure of the three-decade Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
However, the bill is still at the committee level of the House of the Representatives.
“The government ignores our proposed law as landlord lawmakers would not even discuss it,” Casilao said.
He added, “So our hope in the struggle for land reform rests on the organized strength of farmers in their communities. The persistence in different forms and levels of struggle for land reform throughout the country.”