It’s bogus, KMP says of CARP

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On June 10, 2024, thousands of landless farmers walked off the land to protest what they called the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which they called a 36-year-old scam that failed to provide social justice and redistribute hundreds of thousands of hectares of land to farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). (Photo credit: KMP)

By Marvyn Benaning

Today, June 10, 2024, thousands of landless farmers voted with their feet to denounce what they described as a 36-year-old scam, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which failed to dispense social justice and redistribute hundreds of thousands of hectares of land to farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs.)

To Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary-general Ronnie Manalo, CARP is “the longest-running, most expensive and most repressive land reform program enacted by the Philippine government.” Both Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. and his son, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., promised the moon and the stars to landless Filipino peasants, and both delivered nightmares to nearly 3-million peasants who had been waiting to be awarded plots of land since 1965.

Manalo argued that while the Marcoses crafted their agrarian reform program as typically confiscatory of land seized during the Spanish colonial period and rewarded to Spanish citizens, religious corporations and cohorts belonging to the principalia, CARP and market-assisted land reform ended up putting peasants in debt since they had to pay for land they had tilled for decades. The labor expended to cultivating the land and making it even more fertile was rewarded with slave wages, and peasants never rose on the social ladder. Then tenancy system was exacerbated by royal decrees that allowed those who took captives during peasant revolts to keep them as slaves or indentured labor.

The KMP leader argued that Marcos Jr. took over the agriculture portfolio to show that he could lead in keeping the prices of rice and other food items in check. His dream of selling rice at P20 a kilo has become a nightmare as the flood of imported kept consuming gnashing their teeth as the price of the staple shot up to P60 a kilo. The idea of the geniuses in the Lower House and the Senate was that flooding the market with rice will reduce prices. They all failed to see, because they are blind anyway, and understand, that of the few correct ideas dished out by George Soros, the best was when he blurted out that the “market is always wrong.” Yes, smugglers intervene in the market, corrupt customs officials look the other way when smuggled rice are brought into the market using sacks that purport the staple to have been produced locally.

Creatively, they can store the smuggled rice for a maximum of one year as low-quality Vietnam rice loses its good eating quality at 366 days or longer. The KMP has blamed Marcos Jr. for the deteriorating situation of farmers who not only lost billions due to smuggling but also to the rising costs of inputs, electricity, fuel and irrigatioin fees. Manalo said Marcos Jr. has failed the farmers as he willy-nilly fiddled with the policy of import-based food security, purchasing from countries that subsidize their farmers while denying the same support to local farmers.

Manalo said farmers from San Mateo, Norzagaray are furious after they were ejected from their awarded lands in 2018 using private security guards, the police and the military. In 2020, Norzagaray farmer Rommy Torres was brutally killed and his body stuffed inside a drum in Laguna. His case remains unsolved. Peasants in San Jose Del Monte City are ranged in a bitter land dispute with several landgrabbers, including presidential brother-in-law Greggy Araneta and major land developers who were able to circumvent CARP and DAR’s policies to undermine the rightful claim of farmers to the land they have been tilling since the 1960s.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Malacanang target to distribute 100,000 Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) for 2024 after claiming that it already distributed 70,000 CLOAs to ARBs in 2023. KMP regards the claim as preposterous since sprawling Spanish-era haciendas remain intact, big landlords and the local elite have control and ownership of vast tracts of farmlands and idle landholdings. Worse, the DAR is reversing decisions favoring farmers and converting haciendas for commercial, industrial and residential purposes.

KMP said farmer protests before the DAR will continue to press the department to resolve long-standing agrarian disputes in Bulacan, Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Murcia, Anunas in Angeles City, Lupang Tartaria and Lupang Ramos in Cavite and Hacienda Roxas in Batangas. The activities will culminate with the July 1 nationally-coordinated protests led by farmers to make accountable the regime for the worsening crisis of agriculture and sky-rocketing food prices. A broader people’s protest will take place on July 22 on Marcos Jr’s 3rd SONA.###