MILITANT peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Sunday backed moves by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano to suspend the implementation of a “midnight resolution” of the previous Aquino administration that seeks the subdivision of collective Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to individual land titles.
The group made the statement after Mariano was reported as saying that Administrative Order No. 3 series of 2016 might tempt cash-strapped farmer-beneficiaries to pawn or sell their individual farm lots instead of tilling the land, for lack of capital for farm inputs.
The order was signed on June 8, 2016 by then Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced Mariano’s appointment.
“The ulterior motive of this ‘midnight order’ approved by Aquino’s DAR is to pave the way for the re-concentration of vast tracts of lands to landlords,” said Antonio Flores, the militant group’s secretary general.
“First, [the order]seeks to ensure that farmer beneficiaries would pay amortization for the land supposedly awarded to them through the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Individual farmer beneficiaries’ failure to pay will obviously lead to the cancellation and disqualification of farmer-beneficiaries,” he said.
Flores cited data from the Land Bank of the Philippines showing that nine out of 10 farmer-beneficiaries are not able to pay amortization.
“Worse, the subdivision of collective CLOAs will make individual farmer-beneficiaries highly vulnerable to land-grabbing. Big landlords will surely exploit farmers’ poverty, and compel beneficiaries at gunpoint to sell their lands,” said Flores.
The questioned order covers all collective CLOAs issued by DAR to farmers’ cooperatives and associations and groups of farmer-beneficiaries who are not organized.
“With individualized CLOAs, farmers become all the more vulnerable to deception and manipulation of landowners. They could be forced to sell the lands or enter into unfair lease contracts with landowners and agribusiness corporations,” Flores said.
“Farmers’ experience under the sham CARP proves that CLOAs are mere scraps of paper that cannot defend farmers from land grabbing and has led to the re-concentration of lands to landowners,” he said.