Senate okays extension of Carp coverage notices

on . Posted in DAR In The News
visayan dailyThe Senate announcement yesterday of the approval on third and final reading of a bill that will extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was not welcomed by some sectors in Negros Occidental.

Senate Bill No. 2278 will allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to continue the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands actually certified as urgent in June 2014 by Malacañang, and was mentioned at the 5th State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino, its author and sponsor, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, said.

“My reading of both houses (of Congress) is that it's inevitable. Directive from the top,” Rafael Coscolluela, president of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, said.

Honasan said the passage of the bill into law would allow DAR to continue the issuance of Notices of Coverage until June 30, 2016, a Senate press statement said.

Honasan said that Section 2 of SBN 2278 amends Section 30 of Republic Act. No. 9700, allowing DAR to continue issuing Notices of Coverage and accept voluntary offers to sell by landowners of agricultural lands until June 30, 2016.

“The law does not, in effect, expire. It is a continuing process until the acquisition and distribution is terminated,” Honasan explained.

“Economic experts both here and abroad have evaluated the impact of CARP. Their findings reveal that, after more than 20 years of CARP, it has failed to uplift the quality of lives of ARBs (agrarian reform beneficiaries) and that it adversely affected our agricultural productivity,” Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said.

Instead of further fragmenting productive agricultural lands, government should focus on improving our agricultural productivity so that we can be competitive in this era of ASEAN trade integration, he said.

Government should also concentrate on extending technical and financial support to existing ARBs so that they can make their lands productive and thus provide for the needs of their families and contribute to our country's economic growth, he added.

“CARP after 26 yrs is already a failed land reform program. Continuing it is continuing to waste people’s money. It’s like a farmer's dying body trying to resurrect it with dialysis which when you stop infusing money, it’s dead anyway. Only a genuine and pro farmers’ land reform program could save farm worker beneficiaries,” John Lozande, secretary-general of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, said.

CARP was first implemented in 1988. It was extended for another five years in June 2009, through Republic Act 9700, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform, or CARPer.

DAR data shows that out of the total 5,466,602 hectares to be distributed, around 4,655,100 hectares had been awarded to farmer beneficiaries, while about 726,421 hectares remain undistributed, the Senate press statement said. DAR officials said that around 29,935 hectares have still to be issued Notices of Coverage, as of today, the Senate press statement said.*CPG