MANILA, Philippines—An official of the Catholic Bishops’ of the Philippines (CBCP) urged President Aquino on Monday to institute changes in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) so that his administration could complete the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by 2016 as he had promised.
Likewise, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called on farmers to be calm saying that while the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) expired on Monday (June 30), the government was obliged to continue facilitating and awarding lands to beneficiaries.
Over Church-run Radio Veritas, Pabillo, the head of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, said CARP could succeed under President Aquino’s administration if he would reform the DAR.
“Our advocacy now calls for making DAR more effective because the department’s management is weak,” said Pabillo on Monday. “One big hurdle in completing the program is the ineffective management of the DAR,” said the prelate.
He said the failure of the department to accomplish what should have been completed under the Carper law was an indicator that the agency was not performing as expected.
Last year, at least 78 out of the 120 members of the CBCP called for the replacement of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, saying that the department has been “under-performing” under his watch.
“The President has to seriously look into this under-accomplishment by the DAR,” said Pabillo, adding that members of the CBCP have remained hopeful that Mr. Aquino would push for the measure extending Carp for another two years.
In the same breath, the prelate called for sobriety among farmers, saying that while the Carper already expired on Monday, it did not mean that the department would stop processing lands covered by the law.
“The Carper ended [June 30] but this does not mean that the agrarian reform also ended because it is a Constitutional mandate so as long as there are lands to be distributed to farmers, it should continue,” said Pabillo.
He said more lands should still be placed under a “notice of coverage” (NOC), and noted that at least 300,000 to 400,000 hectares should continue to be processed for agrarian reform and adequately funded by government
An NOC officially places a landholding under the program through which agricultural lands will be distributed to tenants or landless farmers at state-subsidized rates, to be paid in 30 years and to be made productive with government aid.
DAR records showed that as of May 20, some 14,085 landholdings spread over 88,962 hectares of land have not been issued NOCs. Under the law, the DAR may continue distributing lands that have been issued NOCs even beyond the June 30 deadline.