PROPOSAL TO EXTEND CARP TO INCREASE LAND RECONCENTRATION

Proposals of Malacañang and congressmen to reform and extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) create more opportunities for land owners and agribusiness firms to further consolidate their control over agricultural lands, according to research group IBON Foundation.

IBON noted that proposals for CARP extension include the “farmland as collateral” provision, a key component of so-called market-oriented land reform. The research group said that farmers availing of the provision to access credit may find their lands foreclosed, resulting in reconsolidation of already-redistributed agricultural lands in the hands of landlords and large agribusiness firms. IBON pointed out that the present flawed program has failed to stop bankrupt farmers from selling or transferring distributed lands, despite 10-year prohibitions on such transfers.

Malacañang will also be able to use the proposal to push for its initiatives to develop corporate farms and facilitate foreign and local agricultural investment through the Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) concept, further increasing the insecurity of land tenure in the countryside. According to IBON, the proposal to extend CARP is meant to fine-tune the bankrupt program to continue restructuring local agriculture in order to suit the needs of big land owners and agro-corporations.

Bills filed at the House of Representatives are even more dangerous for small and landless farmers since introducing reforms to the flawed CARP undermines the historical and moral claim of farmers to own the land they till for free. Requiring farmers to pay for the land perpetuates one of the biggest flaws of CARP—that the program is essentially a real estate transaction between landlords and farmers, with the government as the middle man.

The present agrarian situation, according to IBON, proves that CARP in its 20 years of implementation has failed and has been used to legitimize various forms of land grabbing. Instead of extending the flawed CARP, IBON calls for a genuine program that is not designed to perpetuate landlord-business and agro-corporate interests but upholds land distribution as key for social justice.

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