Akbayan solon on PNoy’s SONA: GMA’s crime includes killing agrarian reform


July 26, 2010

Akbayan solon on PNoy’s SONA: GMA’s crime includes killing agrarian reform

Neophyte solon and Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao welcomed today the announcement of Malacanang that President Noynoy Aquino’s first SONA would focus on the crimes committed by the GMA administration, as she urged the new administration to hold GMA accountable for her attempts to kill the country’s agrarian reform program.

“Apart from committing corruption, GMA also abused her power to thwart the implementation of the program. It was during her last year in power, in an attempt to exempt the landholdings of the Arroyos from land distribution, that DAR recorded the lowest agrarian reform coverage,” Rep. Bag-ao revealed. “Ironically, this was the first year of the extended program under CARPER, supposedly a year of hope for landless farmers.”

She said that a measly 59 thousand hectares was covered by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2009, less than 50% of the annual target of the government. “That is the lowest accomplishment in the history of CARP,” Rep. Bag-ao pointed out.

The GMA administration has consistently targeted to distribute 130 thousand hectares per year from  2005 to 2008, a target that was designed to leave around 1 million hectares undistributed by the end of the 10-year budget extension for CARP in 2008. “The GMA administration showed no intention of finishing land distribution under her administration. Her government’s target and the budget they allocated for agrarian reform ensured that the land distribution will not be finished by 2008, leaving the large haciendas in Negros and elsewhere intact in the hands of her landlord allies”  Bag-ao said.

The 59-thousand hectare accomplishment in land distribution of the Arroyo administration shocked Rep. Bag-ao, an agrarian reform advocate and legal counsel of the Sumilao farmers. “I cannot recall a year under any administration that the DAR accomplishment had been this low. GMA gave ‘scandalous performance’ a new meaning” she said.

In 2009, the GMA administration should have targeted at least 200 thousand hectares in order to finish the 1 million hectare balance within the 5 years prescribed by RA 9700 (CARPER Law). However, from the already low annual target of 130 thousand hectares, the Arroyo administration brought the target lower to 85 thousand hectares in 2009.

“They already lowered the target for 2009, and still their accomplishment was below their own targets. Kumbaga, sobrang baba na nga ang target, tinawaran pa sa accomplishment,” she added. “This dismal accomplishment means that the new administration needs to jack up the necessary annual target from 200,000 to 250,000 hectares annually.”

“GMA did not only steal from our national coffers, she also stole the dreams of millions of landless farmers, she left a bankrupt implementation of agrarian reform. President Aquino should also give redress to this by ordering DAR Sec. Gil delos Reyes to fast-track the distribution of lands under CARPER and ask his allies in Congress to provide the DAR with the necessary budget to accomplish this” Bag-ao concluded.

Bag-ao said that the Aquino administration should show a strong political will in the implementation of agrarian reform if it is to finish land distribution within the timeframe  mandated by RA 9700. “In sending strong signals for the completion of agrarian reform, how the Hda. Luisita issue will be resolved is essential. We are confident that President Noynoy Aquino will enforce his campaign promise that Hacienda Luisita will be distributed, and under CARPER that would entail scrapping the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and distributing the lands to the qualified beneficiaries,” Bag-ao added.   ###

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