CIELITO Habito, who heads the USAID Trade- Related Assistance for Development Project as chief of party for Deloitte Consulting, said Tuesday that the government should act quickly to address the uncertainties or better put an end to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).
Habito, a former National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) secretary, said the lengthy land reform program has brought too many uncertainties to the country’s agricultural market that it has become counter-productive.
"The way the Filipinos implemented the land reform program is too long. The uncertainties in the program have been slowing down the investment in the agricultural market," he said.
Habito said the land reform program is not a failure because there are still those who benefited from the program that uplifted their standard of living based on studies conducted by University of the Philippines-Los Baños and documented surveys.
However, the government still has to provide support services to these beneficiaries.
“This is the failure of the government to give the beneficiaries the right support services like the farm-to-market roads, fertilizers, among others so that they would have the capacity to operate as small farmers, making all the decisions in the farm," Habito said.
The bill for the continuing implementation of the notice of coverage (NOC) for lands covered by Carp, which started during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino in 1989, is currently pending before Congress.
“In effect, it's still extending the land reform program,” Habito said.
During his visit to Negros Occidental last April 30, President Benigno Aquino III said his administration is hoping to finish the process of issuing the NOC.
He said there are still problems being addressed like the lack of titles, which is one necessary component for the NOC.
"The government won't be taking more hectares of land, only an extension for the Notice of Coverage," Aquino added.
Republic Act 9700 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) Law expired on June 2014.
The Senate has already passed the bill that would allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to continue the issuance of the NOC until June 30, 2016 and accept voluntary offer to sell by owners of agricultural lands.
The House of Representatives has yet to approve its version as members of the Visayan Bloc have signified opposition to the extension of Carp.