DAVAO CITY – As farmers commemorate agrarian reform implementation this month of June, a national alliance of advocates and farmers with Mindanao members is strongly demanding the PNoy administration for more speedy redistribution of lands to qualified farmer beneficiaries.
In a statement released by the Save the Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA)-Mindanao, the group urges the Aquino administration to hasten land redistribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) since only two and a half years remain to implement it.
The alliance claims that out of a target of 428,938 hectares for Mindanao regions, the Department of Agrarian Reform has only distributed 135,663 hectares from June 2010 to June 2011, or a mere 32 percent. On a national level, the DAR has distributed 174,754 hectares out of a target of 1,064,000 hectares or only 16 percent during the same period, leaving a balance of 890,000 hectares.
The CARPER has been implemented starting August 2009 and will end in 2014 which is only 2 and half years away as mandated under Republic Act 9700.
The group is alarmed on the slow pace of the CARPER implementation from 2010 to 2011. It claims that based on records, the DAR has been distributing lands at a national average of only 87,377 hectares annually. To meet the national target, the agency should be redistributing lands at about 297,000 hectares annually.
SARA-Mindanao members believe that the current pace of land redistribution shows the lack of political will and commitment of the PNoy administration to fully implement the CARPER. They are urgently demanding Congress to provide the necessary funds for full implementation of the program and more aggressive role of DAR in confronting big landholdings with influential landowners.
CARPER implementation in Davao Region remains controversial as landholdings owned by powerful clans especially those in coconut lands are contested and/or exempted. National data shows that coconut lands comprise around 31.33 percent of the land acquisition and distribution target, followed by rice (23.30%), sugar (15.83%) and corn (13.72%).
“This slow-paced implementation of lands under the CARPER is very dismal,” states Mauro Ellazo, chairperson of Hugpong Hugpong sa Organisadong Katawhan sa Davao Oriental, a member of SARA. He further states that “President Aquino claimed that we, the people, are his bosses. We urge him to show us that he will make agrarian reform as a priority, not just a lip service.”
“Beyond land distribution accomplishment which are only in numbers, farmer beneficiaries must be really installed, be able to control their lands and provided with credit assistance to make the land productive, enjoy the fruits of the land and improve their lives, ” Ellazo added.
SARA is national alliance of farmer groups, women, non-governmental organizations and other civil society organizations clamoring for speedy implementation of agrarian reform in the country. SARA-Mindanao is composed of the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Agraryong Reporma Samahang Kababaihan (ARSK), Building Alternative Rural Resource Institutions and Organizing Services, Inc. (BARRIOS), Builders for Rural Empowerment and Human Rights Advocates Networks (BRETHREN), Center for Rural Empowerment Services in Central Mindanao (CRESCENT), Inc., Hugpong sa Organisadong Katawhan sa Davao Oriental (Hugpong), Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF), Makabayan- Pilipinas, and Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Maralitang Mamamayan sa Kanayunan, Inc (KASAMA-KA).