THE Department of Agrarian Reform opposed on Wednesday a proposal in the House of Representatives purportedly aimed at extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s land acquisition and distribution component, but actually watering down genuine land reform.
In a position paper, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said there was no need to House Bill Nos. 114 and 3051 allowing DAR to acquire and distribute private and public agricultural lands for another two years.
“While the purpose of the bills is laudable, the distribution of lands to farmer-beneficiaries did not stop even after the expiration of Republic Act No. 9700 last June 30, 2014,” Mariano said.
“Furthermore, DAR stated that both bills, while seemingly a remedy for the failure of CARPER to cover the remaining landholdings, are unnecessary and inadequate.”
According to DAR, 4.7 million hectares of land have been acquired and distributed to almost 2.8 million farmer-beneficiaries since 1972, “a far cry from the 10.3-million hectare target of CARP in 1989.”
“While we appreciate the lawmakers’ desire to give DAR more time to acquire lands, the pending bills do not consider other aspects of agrarian reform,” Mariano said.
“It is the department’s thrust to rectify the problems encountered by previous agrarian reform programs. A new law that is responsive to the needs of our farmers will truly alleviate our farmers from their bondage to the soil.”
The Agrarian Reform department invoked Section 30 of RA 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms stipulating “any case and/or proceeding involving the implementation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, which may remain pending on June 30, 2014, shall be allowed to proceed to its finality and be executed even beyond such date.”
Mariano slammed the failure of the past agrarian reform programs to cover all agricultural lands for distribution.
He maintained his previous proposal when he was then a party-list lawmaker, to pass a new comprehensive law that would address the various problems of land acquisition and distribution, ensure the farmers’ security of tenure, and provide sufficient support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries.