18 Years of CARP: Reclassification and Unfavorable Rulings Take Land Away from Tillers

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While government boasts of having placed under the agrarian reform program millions of hectares of land, farmer-beneficiaries complain they lose the lands awarded to them because of land-use reclassification. A Bulatlat study shows how decisions on the CARP coverage ultimately lie in the hands of the local government units which decide on land-use reclassification and the Supreme Court which usually confirms the conversion in its rulings.

CARP implementation

In the 18 years of CARP, DAR records show it has covered 3,493,781 hectares of its 4.29-million hectare target coverage for the whole program. It has reportedly given Emancipation Patents (EP) or Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) to 1,907,309 farmer-beneficiaries.

In a press conference at the Office of the Secretary on June 5, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said he would ask Congress to legislate another five-year extension for the program that started in 1988. Former Pres. Corazon Aquino declared agrarian reform as her administration's centerpiece program.

DAR Field Operations Undersecretary Narciso Nieto Jr. said in the same press conference that the department would not be able to meet its 2008 deadline because they still have to cover more than 1.2 million hectares. Half of this, or 600,000 ha., is the balance of the 4.29 ha. target. Nieto added that his office discovered another 600,000 ha. for coverage.

Dante de Leon, chief of staff of DAR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Renato Herrera, told Bulatlat the agrarian reform law recognizes the landowners' right to the land. He said landowners have the right to file for an exemption from CARP coverage and are entitled to a retention limit of five hectares per heir.

Nieto admitted that they are encountering problems covering the remaining 600,000 ha. because these are "contentious lots" that would most probably be decided in court.

Records of the DAR...