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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Funding Issue Must Be Resolved Before Congress Extends CARP (Another Arroyo Scandal?)
Funding Issue Must Be Resolved Before Congress Extends CARP (Another Arroyo Scandal?) PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Wednesday, 07 May 2008 06:00

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the issue of funding should be resolved first before Congress can decide on the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which expires on June 10.

Senator Pimentel said there must be a full accounting of the tens of billions of pesos spent for CARP since it was first implemented in 1988 in view of allegations about corruption and misuse of money.

He said it is not clear where the government will get the P162-billion that the Department of Agrarian Reform says is needed to continue and complete the CARP.

Corollary the funding issue, according to the senator from Mindanao, is the need for a redefinition of “just compensation” for private agricultural lands that are compulsorily covered by CARP or voluntarily sold to the government for redistribution to farmer-beneficiaries.

Mr. Pimentel said there has been no accounting of the public money that has been allocated for CARP.

“Of what use is the extension of the CARP law if there is no funding? The funding issue is very important and that is anchored on what the term just compensation means,” Senator Pimentel said after attending the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Legislators’ Caucus in which the proposed extension of CARP was discussed.

Mr. Pimentel said there has been no accounting of the public money that has been allocated for CARP, including the P28-billion share from the ill-gotten Marcos bank deposits that were recovered from Switzerland.

He said the administration has yet to fully respond to the allegations by farmers’ organizations that part of the recovered Marcos bank deposits had been diverted to the 2004 election campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“We have to ascertain that public funds that were appropriated for CARP should be duly accounted for. And we do not see that yet because every time the CARP is in danger of extinction, they just come back to say ‘we need more money to keep CARP alive,” he said.


Senator Pimentel said that during the CBCP-Legislators’ forum, it was revealed that the Supreme Court had upheld a lower court decision to pay a huge landowner P1-billion a just compensation for a tract of land that was covered by CARP.

He said the Supreme Court, in two separate cases, has also ordered the payment of P1-billion to one corporate landowner and P122-million to another corporate landowner.

 

Senator Pimentel suspects that the payment of unusually-huge amount of compensation to certain landowners was the product of “sweetheart deals.”“This is terrible. With that kind of money being paid to big landowners, how can you sustain the CARP?” Senator Pimentel said.

“The concept of just compensation must be different for the agrarian reform program as compared with the just compensation requirement of expropriating private lands for public use and ordinary commercial land transactions.”

Senator Pimentel suspected that the payment of unusually huge amount of compensation to certain landowners was the product of “sweetheart deals” that had been entered into between some public officials and the landowners.

He said there is an emerging consensus among legislators to pass the law to extend the CARP but the Senate, in particular, could not act speedily on the bill because “there is a lot of information that still missing.”

“I think the senators are also pragmatic in the sense that they understand that this program has to go on. But as I said the presentation of information on CARP is not yet completed.” # # #



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2008 12:43
 

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