Statement: CARP, a smokescreen for corruption and agrarian pork

DAR favors Cojuangcos anew, denies AMBALA petition to stop TADECO assaults vs farmers

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Statement of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), June 3, 2014
Hacienda Luisita has long been the unfortunate benchmark of how CARP has totally failed in ending the land monopoly ownership and control of big landlords and foreign corporations in the country. Through three decades of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Luisita farm workers have experienced the whole gamut of deceit and terror from the colluding hands of the Cojuangco-Aquino haciendero clan and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

From 1988 up to 2004, CARP had allowed the implementation of the stock distribution option or SDO in Hacienda Luisita, a cunning circumvention of land distribution which declared Luisita farm workers as “stockholders” of the vast sugar estate even as they continued to slave away as landless tillers. The militant struggle of farm workers against the unjust SDO was met by the Cojuangco-Aquinos with appallingly greater injustice through armed violence which cost the lives of seven strikers, in what is now known as the Hacienda Luisita Massacre of November 2004, and of several other peasant activists and land reform advocates in spates of extrajudicial killings during the succeeding years.

Under CARP and through the implementing mechanisms of the DAR, the erstwhile landmark 2012 Supreme Court ruling to finally distribute Hacienda Luisita has been subjected to various legal contrivances that favor the Cojuangco-Aquinos in their bid to once again dodge land distribution and retain control of thousands of hectares of agricultural land.

Because CARP gives unqualified premium to the right of the landowner to so-called “just compensation,” the government has readily disbursed an anomalously generous sum of almost haf a billion pesos (Php 471.5 M) to the Cojuangco-Aquinos for 4,500 hectares of supposedly distributed lands. These lands, however, even before any nominal land transfer to land reform beneficiaries could be completed, are now well on the way of being reconcentrated back to the Cojuangco-Aquinos through unfair and illicit land-lease deals – or the aryendo system – pushed by the President’s kin through deployment of loyal sugar cane production financiers such as ex-LTO Chief and known PNoy “Kabarilan” Virgie Torres and Rep. Noel Villanueva of Tarlac.

The Cojuangco-Aquinos have cleverly manuevered to exempt from distribution at least a thousand hectares of agricultural land, most notable of which is the more than 350 hectares now being disputed by Luisita farm workers and the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO). In December 2013, the DAR issued a Notice of Coverage (NOC) to subject the said TADECO land for distribution. Disregarding the NOC, TADECO has since been very aggressive in expelling farmers who have been tilling the area since 2005 through violent bulldozer attacks and arson. The DAR however could do nothing and, in citing the principles of CARP, has denied our petition for a cease and desist order (CDO) to stop TADECO’s violent assaults against Luisita farmers, and conceded that NOCs do not necessarily mean a step towards land acquisition and distribution.

The proponents of another couple of years of CARP extension are arguing that the DAR should be given more time to issue NOCs. The experiences of Hacienda Luisita farmers and those from other parts of the vast Philippine countryside have proven that NOCs and other DAR practices under CARP are mere token processes that do not at all fulfill the requirements of genuine land reform. For the most part, CARP or CARPER has been a monumental swindle that has aggravated the lot of farmers and farm workers all over the country. Not only has CARP been the anti-thesis of social justice and socio-economic reforms, it has likewise been the thick smokescreen for corruption and plunder such as the imposition of astronomic “just-compensation” rates and the so-called agrarian pork.

AMBALA is one with the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and other militant peasant organizations and alliances in opposing any move to extend the life of the pestillence called CARP and in the call for the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or House Bill 252. AMBALA is likewise one with the movement to oust the present Cojuangco-Aquino president not only to gain ground in our struggle for land and justice in Hacienda Luisita but also as one just step towards the pursuit for genuine national freedom and democracy.#

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