About 50 landless farmers marked the 33rd anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Thursday, June 10, with a picket to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop former landowners from obstructing land reform and earning millions of pesos from land they no longer own.
Donning their sacada clothes and wearing black masks with “Stop CARP obstruction!” protest slogans written on them, the farmer-members of Task Force Mapalad (TFM), staged their picket in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Provincial Office at San Sebastian Street in Dawis, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
“Perhaps, it is only in the Philippines, particularly in Negros and in the Panay region, where this ‘doble kabig’ phenomenon happens: former sugar landlords already compensated with millions of pesos in exchange for their landholdings acquired by the DAR for CARP are still raking in huge profits from plantations whose ownership has already been transferred to the government, pending their distribution to farmer-beneficiaries of the program,” said Teresita Tarlac, president of TFM’s Negros-Panay Chapter.
“From land-grabbing, these greedy bunch of recalcitrant former hacienderos, have now resorted to land squatting,” Tarlac added.
“CARP obstruction must stop. President Duterte’s repeated promise of completing land distribution before his term ends would just become mere lip service if he would allow former landlords to amass wealth from landholdings that should have long benefitted farmers,” she said.
This is also among the reasons why the Duterte administration’s CARP performance is very low in Negros Occidental. The province still has nearly 100,000 hectares of undistributed landholdings, the biggest CARP backlog nationwide, Tarlac added.
The “malicious and willful prevention or obstruction” of the implementation of CARP is a criminal offense under Section 73 of Republic Act No. 6657 (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988) and Section 24 of Republic Act 9700 (the CARPER Law of 2009), a TFM statement said.
There are still former landlords profiting from 33 Negros haciendas they no longer own, it said.
During the picket-rally, the TFM farmers brought with them copies of 33 RP titles that they had obtained from the DAR. These titles, they said, were proof that in Negros Occidental, there were at least 33 haciendas covering a total area of more than 1,000 hectares whose ownership had already been transferred to the government from that of hacienderos, the TFM statement said.
The existence of RP titles is also a proof that the DAR, through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), has already deposited landowners’ compensation under the names of the former hacienderos, TFM said.
The average land valuation per hectare of a sugarcane farm acquired by the DAR either through compulsory or voluntary offer to sell scheme is P310,630, according to data from the LBP. Based on this figure, it is estimated that the LBP has already deposited a total of at least P310 million in behalf of the former owners of the 33 haciendas covering 1,000 hectares, it added.
The 33 CARP-acquired haciendas in Negros with RP titles, instead of being already distributed to farmers, have remained under the control of their former hacienderos, TFM said.
The federation estimates that at a net income of at least P50,000 per hectare from sugarcane farming, former landowners were still reaping a total of P500 million in yearly profits from the 33 haciendas covering 1,000 hectares, which should have already been the income of farmer-beneficiaries if the DAR immediately installed them on the landholdings, TFM claimed.*