QUEZON CITY, Jan. 20 – Following the House Committee on Agrarian Reform hearing on the proposed completion of the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has urged Congress to enact a genuine agrarian reform law.In a position paper released by the agency, DAR opposed House Bill No. 114 and House Bill No. 3051 for granting a two-year extension on the LAD component of CARP.
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, the paper said.
Section 30 of RA 9700, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), states that “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.”
Pending review by DAR, records show that 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.
With the failure of the past agrarian reform programs to cover all agricultural lands for distribution, DAR has proposed the passage of a new comprehensive law that would address the various problems of LAD, ensure the farmers’ security of tenure, and provide sufficient support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB).
Furthermore, DAR stated that both bills, while seemingly a remedy for the failure of CARPER to cover the remaining landholdings, are unnecessary and inadequate.
“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,” DAR Secretary Rafael 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,” he added.(DAR)