Central Luzon farmers: Repeal CARP anew

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Saturday, February 15, 2014


MABALACAT CITY -- Farmers in Central Luzon reiterated their demand from the government to repeal Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) and Republic Act 9700 (Carp Extension with Reforms (Carper).

The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and its affiliates Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and Panlalawigang Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Aurora (Pamana) expressed their strong opposition against the implementation of the agrarian laws.

Ambala is the organization of Hacienda Luisita farm workers who waged the massive strike, together with the United Luisita Workers' Union (Ulwu) and Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (Catlu) on November 6, 2004. The victims of the violent dispersal “Hacienda Luisita Massacre” on November 16 are members of Ambala.

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Pamana – Aurora members are affected by the Republic Act 10083 or Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act are strongly demanding the same fundamental call. CARPer is due to expire on June 30 and the
House of Representatives are presently deliberating on the issue.

“Our call is whether we put CARP and CARPer six feet under or we cremate it as long its existence is totally ended. We advice the public to be vigilant of other groups in favor of its extension or completion of using our affiliated farmers to advance their objectives,” Joseph Canlas said, AMGL chairperson.

The groups, Canlas said, are watching over the alleged deceptive schemes of some groups to legitimize their campaign such as taking advantage of the decades-long agrarian dispute in Hacienda Luisita and in Apeco area in Casiguran town, province of Aurora.

Hacienda Luisita was covered by the stock distribution option (SDO), provisioned by CARP on section 32 during the administration of former president Corazon Aquino.

"The peasant struggle in Hacienda Luisita has reached the Supreme Court and it is clear that they demanded the junking of SDO, and by provision it is CARP in the hacienda's circumstance," Canlas said.

Ambala asserted that SDO failed to uplift their socio-economic well-being, worse it has put them into deep poverty and misery.

The group claimed that their unbearable situation obliged them to wage the strike and demand junking of the SDO.

Even during the protracted deliberation at the high court, the farm workers demanded immediate and free distribution of land and not another implementation of CARP or CARPer.

“CARPer is an insult to the Hacienda Luisita farm workers, it resulted their inconceivable hardship, the massacre, and at present land grabbing by Cojuangco-Aquino family," Canlas said.

The farmers said that the Aquino government is implementing CARPer in Hacienda Luisita, which paved the way for the land grabbing by a huge development firm since December to present.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reduced coverage from 4,915-hectares as ordered by the high court to only 4,099-has.

The DAR claimed that the discrepancy of 900 hectares is not missing.

A private corporation has fenced about 400 hectares in two villages inside Hacienda Luisita, the farmers groups stated.

Farmlands were demolished without any legal basis and protesting farmers were harassed by police forces, said Canlas.

AMGL and Pamana – Aurora clarified that they are demanding the repeal of Apeco and immediate distribution of lands to farmers, fisher folk and indigenous people.

Apeco has covered about 13,000-hectares of land in Casiguran town, including the 500-hectare rice granary in Barangay Esteves and Dibet, and Dumagat ancestral lands in Barangays San Ildefonso, Cozo and Culat.

Apeco was authored by Former Senator Edgardo Angara and his son, then-congressman Sonny Angara.

“The people living in the Apeco-affected barangays has cultivated the lands for more than 50 years, many agrarian reform programs has been passed and implemented and they ignored the people of Casiguran, thus,
CARPer is no exception,” Canlas said.

Amgl, Pamana – Aurora and the Resist Apeco Movement have asserted that CARP and CARPer implementation has come out futile as it served no protection to poor farmers from laws such as Apeco.

The groups added that CARPer is an all-out deception to the farmers who actually cultivated the lands, transforming them into value.

“CARPer obliges farmers who sacrificed on the land, amortization and compelling them to accept land ownership of Angara or any landlord,” Canlas said.

Amgl said that CARPer is an instrument of the land-owning class against the poor farmers.

It added the case of Hacienda Dolores, where farmers are now facing violent attacks from Leonardo-Lachenal Holdings, Inc. (LLL), FL Property Management Corp. (FL).

The two firms are claiming about 754 hectares of land that are actually cultivated by farmers and took advantage of an exemption order and conversion order issued by the DAR on 2005, Canlas said.

The group said that Ayala Land is planning to convert 1,000-has. As Alvierra, an eco-residential and commercial project similar to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa city, Laguna province.

Arman Padiño was killed while Noel Tumali was wounded in a confrontation betwee the developer guards and farmers last January 12.

Padiño, Tumali and his son attempted to harvest their crops as they have no other source of livelihood, but were fired upon by LLL and FL security guards, according to Canlas.

Canlas said the farmers' ancestors cultivated the lands in Hacienda Dolores as early as 1835 during the Spanish colonialism.

“Everybody knows that Central Luzon is a theater for agrarian struggle. It is because of programs such as CARPer. The fundamental rights to land of farmers are systematically and continuously violated, thus, farmers' resistance is inevitable. CARPer would only fuel more peasant unrest, hence, it must be repealed,” Canlas said.

Amgl and its affiliate organization are pushing for the passage of House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill filed by Anakpawis Party-list Fernando Hicap.

GARB proposes free and immediate distribution of lands to farmers and prohibition of land grabbing by big landlords and private firms.

“We intend to clarify to our utmost sincerity. We call for the repeal of Republic Act 6657 or CARP and Republic Act 9700 or CARPer and the passage of House Bill 252 or GARB. Farmers from Hacienda Luisita and Apeco-affected areas are not supporting the call of CARP extension or completion. We want CARPer six feet under,” Canlas said.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 16, 2014.

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