THE DEADLINE nears, but for all intents and purposes, the Aquino administration will not be able to distribute all lands to farmer-beneficiaries when the the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) expires next year.

The Department of Agrarian Reform has distributed only 120,000 hectares since this millennium started, and if you think that’s not too bad, then consider how many hectares remain undisributed: 870,000 hectares for land acquisition and distribution (LAD)!

Figure out the math: With less than a year, can the DAR finish LAD?

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the Philppine state has historically fallen short of the targets it has set for itself to implement what it calls its foremost social justice program—that’s why Carp became Carper in the first place. Government has historically operated without any sense of urgency. Carper rhymes with torpor.

But now that Carper is in the terminal stage, another caper is being sounded off: Extend Carper! If ever, perhaps the new extension law should be named Carpet—Carper on Target. Then at least on paper the agrarian reform would take flight and meet its target.

“Paper magic” would not be amiss since the government has been “massaging” statistics in order to make it appear progress is being achieved. It has subtracted 175,000 "problematic" hectares from the distribution target, with the remaining 695,000 it is reportedly rushing to distribute by 2016, two years after Carper will have expired. God knows what statistics government now is massaging not only to extend Carper to 2016 and beyond! For all you know, there will be no end to extensions.

Wikang Filipino, akademikong saliksik sa Rusya

Thousands of lands have been tagged "problematic" reportedly because of the original Carp’s loopholes that landowners are said to be exploiting, especially the reclassification of lands from agricultural to non-agricultural, thus evading Carp coverage.

Even government itself is adding to the problem. Farmers have expressed concerns that some lands that are to be distributed are being foreclosed because of infrastructure projects by government!

This is beside the inability of government to provide fair compensation to landowners who are willing to give up their lands for Carp.

Dare we mention that Carp, which been passed into law in 1988 under the previous administration of President Aquino's mother, Cory, has already expired twice, in 1998 and in 2008.? Guess what, executive and legislative officials have indicated they again want an extention – to 2019!

It will not be a surprise if another extension comes after that, perhaps until 2050, when potential land beneficiaries will have all died.

Part of the problem is that P-noy himself is a big landowner, belonging to the Cojuangco clan that owns Hacienda Luisita, one of Asia’s biggest sugar planations. After the Supreme Court sided with the hacienda's tenants last year, it's just only now that the DAR is starting to distribute the lands 4,000 lands, which however has bogged down because of legal suits filed by the President’s family supposedly seeking “clarifications” from the courts. Considering that thousands of hectares elsewhere have been removed from the Carp coverage as they have been deemed "problematic" by DAR because of the legal challenges posed against their distribution, it would not be farfetched for Luisita to be classified as such eventually. Goodbye 2014! Sorry, Luisita farmers.

Civil Law dean: No conflict of interest

In fact, goodbye, Carp! So sorry, agrarian reform beneficiaries.


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