Proposed DAR, CARP budget cut alarms advocates

on . Posted in DAR In The News
business mirrorAGRARIAN-reform advocates on Thursday expressed alarm over the plan to reduce the budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The DAR is the lead implementing agency of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the land distribution component of which expired on June 30.

While there are proposed measures, which seeks to extend the authority of the DAR to issue notice of coverage (NOC) by two more years to cover more private agricultural land for distribution to landless farmers, a lower budget next year means bad news to landless farmers, as well as agrarian-reform advocates who depend on the support services provided by DAR through CARP, the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (Sara) said.

Sara leaders were reacting to the proposal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reduce the DAR’s budget by 43.3 percent, from its current budget of P20.767 billion, to just P11.76 billion next year.

The group said this could be DAR’s lowest budget in its 26 years of existence.

“Sara is deeply disturbed by the DBM’s proposal to cut the budget of the DAR and other CARP-affiliated programs, especially now that the June 30 deadline for issuing NOC has elapsed,” Trinidad Domingo, Sara spokesman said.

Among the features of the proposed CARP budget for 2015 include a P3-billion cut to DAR’s land acquisition and distribution and agrarian justice delivery (LAD-AJD) components, a P4.6-billion decrease to the Land Bank of the Philippines’s Landowner Compensation Fund, as well as a special provision on a transition plan for transferring DAR’s program beneficiaries component to the Department of Agriculture (DA). She said the DAR’s poor performance will worsen with a lower budget for LAD and AJD.

Moreover, she said that the transfer of support services to the DA will adversely affect agrarian-reform beneficiaries, given the agency’s bias for agribusiness.

“The fact that these massive budget cuts for CARP are now being proposed completely contradicts President Aquino’s promise in his State of the Nation Address that his administration intends both to complete CARP before the end of his term, while addressing implementation issues that have long plagued the program,” Domingo said.

According to estimates by various agrarian reform coalitions, the amount of lands still not issued NOC by DAR on June 30 far exceeds the 80,000 hectare figure furnished by the agency. Groups such as the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, one of the co-convernors of Sara, for instance, claim that at least 106,000 hectares have yet to be issued such notices.