QUEZON CITY-- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) welcomes the outcome of the fourth round of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as free land distribution, one of the basic elements of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), will soon be the guiding principle of agrarian reform in the country.
The fourth round of the GRP-NDFP peace talks ended last April 6 in Noodwijk, Netherlands with a promise to bring genuine agrarian reform close to realization.
Agrarian reform Secretary Rafael Ka Paeng Mariano sat down as a member of the GRP contingent and affirmed in the crafting of CASER the provisions including free land distribution to farmers and the dismantling of land monopoly that involve thousands of hectares of agricultural lands.
Our continuing advocacy to push for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform law would rectify the inherent flaws, loopholes and defects of previous agrarian reform programs that have exacerbated land monopoly by few landlord-oligarchs, Mariano added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during the celebration of a harvest festival in Nueva Ecija last April 5, announced his continuing support for Mariano and his programs as chief of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Duterte, who also chairs the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), included security of land tenure as one of the priorities in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the government. The Duterte administration has committed to raise the productivity of farmers and improve their quality of life during a forum in Davao City last February 1.
The PARC Executive Committee, chaired by Mariano, passed a resolution certifying as urgent House Bill 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) during the 36th PARC meeting last February 28.
Moreover, Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM) chairpersons also submitted a resolution to DAR last December urging lawmakers to pass the said bill. Resolution No. 1, Series of 2016, entitled A resolution strongly supporting the immediate passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (House Bill No. 555), recognizes the absence of a genuine agrarian reform program as the primary reason for the continuing poverty and lack of food security in the country.
Under the proposed bill, agricultural lands shall be distributed to qualified farmers for free. Members of the committee believe that the passage of HB 555 will help attain rural development and economic growth in the countryside.
Peasant struggle remained at the forefront of the first four rounds of talks after both panels recognized free land distribution as the key in addressing the roots of armed conflict in the countryside. Landlessness remains the main cause of farmers' suffering and only pro-people policies on genuine agrarian reform would help us achieve national and agricultural industrialization, Mariano added.
Source: Philippines Information Agency