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Jun 02nd
Home Columns Op-Ed Page Land Reform in the Philippines: Arroyo vs. Aquino
Land Reform in the Philippines: Arroyo vs. Aquino PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Written by Gerry Garrison   
Friday, 17 February 2012 18:19


In This Corner

By Gerry Garrison

My dear readers, my Filipino wife and love of my life for more-than three decades, has asked me to look into the land reform law, known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), implemented by former President Arroyo and now slowed by current Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and his administration.

My wife’s sister told her that Arroyo wanted to take land from the land owners and give it to the tenant farmers, and that Aquino is trying to slow or stop this.  At its face, a government taking land from someone, and giving it to another, without just compensation, looks like one of communism’s basic principles.

This was done during the reign of the communist dictators in Russia and it never worked.  Plots of land were taken away from land owners and were given to farmers to produce a certain amount of crops for the state. Knowing this, I thought I had better dig a little more to see what this law is all about.

Arroyo, who is currently under detention by the Philippine government, at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on election sabotage charges during her re-election campaign in 2004, wrote a letter to Aquino, accusing him of not abiding by the economy she turned over to him.

One of the topics she discussed was the CARP and in part said, “As for social equity, being the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the father of land reform in our country, I am gratified by the evaluation of one of my favorite Economics teachers, UP Professor Gonzalo Jurado: ‘The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, to the extent that it is a land distribution program, can now be described as having almost completely succeeded in attaining its goal. [CARP] should now be a developmental program aiming explicitly to raise farm productivity…so that the country as a whole will benefit from the (sic) tenurial rearrangement.’ “

What bothered me about this whole statement were the first four words: “As for social equity…” along with the words of professor Jurado, “… it is a land distribution program …”  These two statements made me pause, as these both are, by definition, socialist, if not communist ideas. 

Then came the statements of the Communist Part of the Philippines (CPP). Prior to its 43rd anniversary on December 26, the CPP issued the following statement: “Aquino’s recent attacks on [former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] and the Supreme Court are calculated to deflect public attention away from the worsening economic and social crisis and the continuing gross violations of human rights as well as to boost his popularity rating in poll surveys.”

In November of 2011, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, in a 14-0 decision, ordered a distribution of a sugar estate to farmer beneficiaries.  The CPP stated that it was worried, “…how much the farm workers would be made to pay for the land…” and that Aquino, along with his relatives, “… are demanding … current market value, (which is) way beyond the paying capacity of the farm workers … ”who had to endure “immeasurable misery” along with “… unearned largess appropriated (by the landowners) … over the decades as more than enough payment for the land to be distributed to them.”

The CPP also didn’t have many nice things to say about the Arroyo presidency.  “The Aquino psy-war machine continues to prate about fighting corruption. But until now, the regime runs too slow in going after the crimes of corruption under the Arroyo regime,”

Wanting to be fair, I decided to do more investigation into this law. Research of CARP via the internet, I found the following.  I quote it directly from the Tining ng Plaridel from an article written by N.J.C Morales.

“The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was a land reform law mandated by Republic Act No. 6657, signed by President Corazon Aquino on June 10, 1988. It was the fifth land reform law in fifty years, following the land-reform laws of Presidents Manuel Quezon, Ramon Magsaysay, Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos.”

“According to RA 6657, CARP aims “for a more equitable distribution and ownership of land.” It meant to distribute lands to farmers in a span of 10 years, but was extended by the 11th Congress due to delays in land distribution and lack of budget allocation.”

“Section 3 of RA 6657 defined agrarian reform as the’ redistribution of lands, regardless of crops or fruits produced, to farmers and regular farm workers who are landless’ and ‘all other arrangements alternative to the physical redistribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration and the distribution of shares of stock which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work.’”

“Vast agricultural lands are distributed to the farmers tilling the land, whereas only a maximum of five hectares can be retained by the landlords and three hectares for each of their children.”

“However, a common CARP loophole was that landlords escaped relinquishing their lands through land reclassifications. Lands classified by local zoning ordinances as residential, commercial and industrial lands are excluded from CARP.” 

The law is now known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER) law, also known as the Republic Act 9700.

It is the slow implementation of this law that has the farmers upset.  Even as late as February 14, 2012, farmers where attempting to protest in front of Malacañang, the residence of the President of the Philippines,  They had placards, shaped as hearts (for Valentine’s Day) with words stating, “CARPER completion, not termination" and "fighting corruption is good but don't forget poverty alleviation.”

Speaking for the Aquino administration, Edwin Lacierda says they are well on the way to implementing CARP.  Data from the Department of Agrarian Reform shows that by the end of 2011, 56.6 percent of the land had already been distributed.

All I have to say to this, my readers, is that it appears those who are impatient to get the lands allocated to them should be more patient.  This giveaway reminds me of the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave massive tracks of lands to Americans willing to work lands in the western United States.  All one had to do was file an application for the land, live on the land for five years and show some evidence of improvement.

CARP seems to be easier to get.  Just be patient, and you will be given the land you are working.  From what I found in my research, this will be completed by the end of 2012.  But this is what happens when one is expecting like this for free.

I could be wrong.  Who knows? Maybe the farmers believe they have worked for this “free land”.  I know many of my Filipino readers and friends may think I am wrong. Just sayin…. # # #


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