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House proposal seeks purchase, distribution in land reform law

Vol. XXII, No. 108 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

CONGRESS HAS been presented with an option to include the acquisition and distribution of privately owned lands under a new five-year agrarian reform program.

In a statement, Pampanga Rep. Carmelo F. Lazatin (1st district) said House Bill 5560 will preserve the gains achieved by stakeholders of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), but noted private landowners should now do their share after the program’s 20-year life-span.

Mr. Lazatin’s bill was the first proposal on the issue filed after Congress extended the 1988 law until the end of June 2009, pending a thorough review of its accomplishments and new policies embodied in the new land reform bill.

The Senate and House of Representatives passed the joint resolution for CARP’s extension before they adjourned on Dec. 17. They will resume sessions on Jan. 19. The joint resolution has the force and effect of law.

Mr. Lazatin, chairman of the committee on millennium development goals, said farmer beneficiaries will also gain from other component projects such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and post-harvest facilities.

"For 20 years, the state has poured billions of pesos and worked hard to redistribute the main source of capital, which is land, in many areas in the country," he said.

A similar bill, principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (1st district), which is pending approval on second reading, has similar provisions as Mr. Lazatin’s bill, limits the acquisition and distribution to ill-gotten lands owned by the government.

Both bills provide for a P100-billion fund for land acquisition and distribution and P5 billion annual budget for the five-year program.

The extended CARP dispensed with the compulsory land acquisition component and limited the activities to voluntary offer to sell and voluntary offer to transfer policy.


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