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PIA Press Release

Feature: Finally, land for the landless

by Cristina Arzadon

Laoag City (5 June) -- Finally and rightfully, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program was extended for another five years.

The extension bill couldn't have come at a better time when the world is calling for the protection of the poor from the lingering effects of the global crisis. The CARP is a clear example of how social justice can be achieved.

The bill also allocates a P100-billion outlay for land acquisition and distribution, support services, agrarian justice delivery, and other funding requirements during the extension period.

The bill covers all public and private agricultural lands as provided in Proclamation 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture.

After June 30, 2009, the expiration of the original six month-extension given to CARP, the modes of acquisition will be limited to voluntary offer to sell and compulsory acquisition.

Compulsory acquisition as a mode of land distribution, to our mind, is the heart and soul of agrarian reform because it is the most meaningful way to address social inequities in the countryside. Expectedly, landed lawmakers employed all their strengths to water down the reforms that would affect their vast landholdings. But in the end, the landless farmers will finally be given the opportunity to claim their lands.

The road to the passage of the extension bill has been mostly long and winding and thorny for the farmers around the country. Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform law took effect in 1988 under then President Corazon Aquino. It was extended for another 20 years until December, 2008. ongress gave the program another six months extension or until June this year to allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to complete its land distribution program.

Last December, Congress adopted a joint resolution extending the CARP for six more months, or until June 2009, to allow the DAR to continue its mandated tasks pending the enactment of a new law to extend the operation of the program.

President Macapagal-Arroyo, herself, certified as urgent the CARP extension bill and on June 3, the House of Representatives approved the CARP extension bill on the third and final reading. The Senate passed its own version of the bill earlier.

The final version of the consolidated bill will be enacted when Congress resumes session last week of July. (PIA) [top]

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