QUEZON CITYAgrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" V. Mariano has welcomed the recent agreement forged between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace negotiators that set "free distribution of land" as the guiding principle in the implementation of the genuine agrarian reform.
While Mariano is elated about the latest development in the peacetalks, he said the free distribution of land is just one of the five proposals that his administration had presented for inclusion in the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
Mariano said he is hopeful that the two panels of negotiators would also consider placing all agricultural lands, including those already classified into other uses other than agricultural under the coverage of agrarian reform program.
In a position paper on CASER the DAR had presented to the two panels, Mariano stressed that "actual use" of the land should be made the basis for agrarian reform coverage, "not its classification." He explained that there are lands, which may not be classified as agricultural, but are already tilled and developed by farmers.
For the program to be truly comprehensive, the DAR chief said: "It must cover the remaining un-acquired public and private agricultural lands, which approximately total to more or less 6 million hectares and distribute them for free to the farmers."
"The exemptions and exclusions provided by the CARP should be removed. Those lands previously exempted or excluded from CARP coverage must also be reviewed, and if the lands remain agricultural in use, they should be placed under the coverage of the agrarian reform program," Mariano said.
Mariano also emphasized the need for farmer-beneficiaries to have "full control of the land and of the agricultural production."
"Non-land transfer schemes must be discontinued," he said, referring to "stock distribution option," which had come under scrutiny due to various violations committed by the landowners against the supposed farmer-beneficiaries cum stockholders.
"They ought not to be considered an agrarian reform program for they perpetuate landlessness and merely legalized business control of landholdings to the detriment of our farmers," Mariano added.
Equally important, Mariano said, is that farmer-beneficiaries must also be provided sufficient support services "to ensure that the lands awarded to them would become productive."
Source: Philippines Information Agency