Farmers Ask CBCP: Support GARB, Not CARP Extension


Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

This developed as some 1,000 farmers from Southern Tagalog were staging a “Lakbayan para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (March for Land, Food and Social Justice).

In the weekly Kapihan sa CyPress media forum at the Treehouse Restaurant, Matalino St., in Quezon City last June 7, Orly Marcellana, secretary-general of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines ), and currently the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) regional chair, said that history has already proven the futility of the existing agrarian reform program, which is now 20 years old.

“In the two decades of CARP’s implementation, the farmers in the region remained landless, hungry and poor. We have enough of this bogus land reform,” said Marcellana.

Marcellana insisted that only GARB can introduce an almost-perfect solution to the landlessness problem of farmers in the country.

Rev. Ray Galloaga of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who works closely with the peasant folk in the region, cited the Scriptures and said that as part of the social justice program of Yahweh, Israelites-through their judges and kings-have implemented their own version of agrarian reform program

“Thus, it is rightful to support what the peasant-folks are fighting for right now and that is the passage of a progressive legislation on agrarian reform,” Galloaga said.

Earlier, Second National Rural Congress (NRC2) Chair and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, expressed support to the extension of CARP.

CBCP even asked the President to certify the bill extending the CARP as urgent. She certified it as urgent early last week.

The Central Luzon experience

United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) president and now Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Agricultural Workers) Rene Galang shared his own experience with CARP inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Instead of giving the lands to the farmers and farm-workers for them to till, they (the Cojuangcos) have given us the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a scheme that paved way for more abuse. Now that the Supreme Court has finally decided in favor of the farmers, the Cojuangco clan still refuses to give the farmers’ part of the hacienda which our colleagues have already shed their blood for,” Galang said, referring to the November 16, 2004 massacre.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) chairman  Joseph Canlas said more and more lands are being grabbed by unscrupulous landlords and developers thus leaving more and more farmers landless and hungry.

Among the schemes used are crop conversion and land use conversion, in which lands are being developed into industrial and residential uses, and instead of being used for production of rice and other food lands are planted with cutflowers and other high-yielding crops, threatening the country’s food supply, Galang elaborated.

“That’s why, we are strongly supporting the bill that our beloved Ka Bel, filed in Congress,” said Galang.

CARP: the Mindanao experience

Mindanao has the same experience, said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, KMP officer in Mindanao.

“Many lands have been classified as corporate farms, which can only be distributed if the corporation owning the farm voluntarily submits to CARP, as provided for by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Flores.

GARB

Incoming Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, said that he would be fighting hard for the passage of the GARB and will ensure that the farmers would win this battle.

Mariano joins thousands of farmers that are expected to flock the foot of Mendiola bridge, this June 10, CARP’s 20th anniversary. Contributed to Bulatlat

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