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Negros leaders, militants reject CARP extension

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]

By Ma. Ester L. Espina, Correspondent

Many agree that government should stop land distribution while a review of the program is ongoing

BACOLOD CITY: It isn’t often that local businessmen, sugar planters and militants agree on one issue.But the recent pronouncements of President Gloria Arroyo at her state of the Nation address, calling for the extension of the comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP) was met with great dissent in Negros Occidental.

Provincial leaders have earlier called for a review of CARP implementation after a study conducted by the provincial government and submitted to Congress showed that majority of CARP beneficiaries have reverted back to farm labor and sold or leased out their rights to the land they acquired through the program.
Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Roberto Montelibano said that if government pushes for land distribution without looking into the productivity effect, “it will only worsen the situation.”

For another reason altogether, but still disagreeing with extending the CARP, militant group Anakpawis accused Arroyo of pushing for agrarian reform not to uplift the lives of the peasants but to allow big landlords and foreign companies to benefit from the distributed land.
Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry President James Chua, also disagrees with the call to extend CARP saying, “Further land distribution at this time when the country is faced with a global food crisis is not wise.”
This was the same argument made by sugar industry leaders who stressed that land distribution without addressing the issue of productivity will just worsen our agriculture sector.

Most, if not all, agree that government should halt land distribution while a review of the program is ongoing and focus on providing support services to those who have been provided land.

Negros solons have been one in calling for a review of the program and support a land reform extension bill pending in Congress that will focus more on support services rather than on land distribution.
Even Arroyo’s brother-in-law, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo of the Fifth District has been pushing for a comprehensive review of the program’s implementation and an accounting of CARP funds before any land distribution will even be discussed.
Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters said CARP has been inutile and agricultural production has suffered because of it.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano on the other hand said, “There’s nothing to extend. The bogus CARP no longer exists.”

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