CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The P45-billion proposed budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for 2020 would benefit landlords more than farmers.
This was the contention of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), saying in a statement yesterday that “the government would only provide measly P15,000 loan to rice liberalization-affected farmers but would readily give millions to landlords under the proposed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) budget.”
“DAR budget for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Phase 2 that is being upheld by Secretary John Castriciones is essentially a budget for landlords,” KMP said.
It noted that “out of DAR’s P45-billion proposed budget for 2020, a whopping P9.1 billion would go to CARP.”
“For the past five years, DAR has been allocating fund for CARP/ CARPER even if its LAD (land acquisition and distribution) component already expired and there is no existing law on land reform,” KMP stressed.
For support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries, DAR proposed only P1.9 billion which KMP lamented as “very meager budget for support services.”
“How can farmer-beneficiaries fully expand their productive potential with very minimal support and lacking subsidies from the government? Farmers need more subsidies not loans which they can never repay,” the group said.
KMP said “DAR is targeting to finish land acquisition and distribution or become LAD-free by 2022 at the end of Duterte’s term. How could this be possible when DAR is always behind its own targets and accomplishments?”
“In January 2018, DAR’s LAD balance was at 561,132 hectares. Last year, the agency has set a LAD target of 53,841 hectares and for 2019, it targeted 41,077 hectares for acquisition and distribution. Even if it accomplishes its annual targets, becoming LAD-free by 2022 would be impossible,” KMP chair Danilo Ramos said.
The KMP also asked the administration to reveal the outcome of Executive Order No. 75 that directed DAR to identify and validate government-owned lands for distribution.
“What landholdings were identified for distribution? Duterte has repeatedly directed the distribution of all government lands but is consciously exempting from coverage vast private agricultural lands and haciendas. Big landholdings still remain under the control and ownership of landlords and have become ‘untouchable’ even for DAR,” KMP said.
It also said that 36,000 hectares of former baselands in Tarlac and Pampanga must be included for distribution.
“Haciendas across the country spanning tens of thousands of hectares remain undistributed and under land disputes. DAR must also account for the status of farmers in these haciendas,” KMP leader Rafael Mariano also said.