Aquino approves setting up mechanism to complete objectives of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program

June 16, 2012 1:06 am 

MANILA, June 15 — Reiterating to farmers of his government's unwavering commitment for agrarian reform, President Benigno S. Aquino III approved the setting up of a multi-stakeholders mechanism to complete the objectives of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) before it expires in 2014.

The Chief Executive met on Thursday with farmers who sought an audience with him for a dialogue on agrarian reform.

Consultations between the cabinet secretaries and the farmer groups were subsequently held with the aim to come out with measures that will systematically and efficiently address their concerns.

"We had a very fruitful meeting between the President and the farmer representatives and also members of the church," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

During the meeting, President Aquino also reaffirmed the government’s vigorous support for the development of our countryside.

"A multi-stakeholders mechanism convened by the President and composed of representatives from Department of Agrarian Reform and other CARP-implementing agencies of the government, the church, NGOs (non-government organizations), peoples’ organizations, and other farmer groups and federations shall immediately be established to monitor the implementation of the CARP," Lacierda said.

The Chief Executive and the farmers agreed to fast track the distribution of land to legitimate farmer beneficiaries, according to Lacierda.

"Between now and June 2014, all agricultural lands shall be covered and distributed to qualified beneficiaries. Priority shall be given to landholdings 25 hectares and above and notices of coverage would be issued on or before December 2012. This will include peaceful and orderly installation of farmer beneficiaries of all lands under the program. The Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of Philippines and Department of Interior and Local Government shall be mobilized for this purpose," Lacierda said

"To put all landholdings under the program, notices of coverage or NOCs of lands 10 hectares and above shall be issued on or before December 2012. For landholdings under 10 hectares, notices of coverage shall be issued not later than July 2013," he said.

Lacierda said Republic Act 9700 mandated the allocation of at least P150-billion for the program to successfully complete the implementation of agrarian reform.

"With respect to support services, as mandated by Section 37 of RA 9700 on support services, the provision on initial capitalization for new agrarian reform beneficiaries and socialized credit for existing agrarian reform beneficiaries shall be implemented. To this end, the Department of Budget and Management has committed the immediate release of one billion pesos to be allocated for support services," he stressed.

Lacierda said the Land Bank of the Philippines shall review its policies, rules, and regulations on providing credit to farmers to make it more accessible to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

"In addition the DAR and the Department of Agriculture with assistance from DBM will develop a socialized credit program solely for agrarian reform beneficiaries that is mutually acceptable to both parties. Socialized credit program shall enable the farmers to maximize the productivity of their land and utilize the resources available to them," he said.

The multi-stakeholders mechanism will monitor the implementation of the CARP especially on the coverage and distribution of agricultural lands, movement and performance of DAR personnel, delivery of support services to the beneficiaries, budget allocation, utilization, among others.

"Then there will be continuing consultations on administrative orders. There will be a fast tracking of resolutions of pending cases on stock distribution options and leaseback arrangements before the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council or PARC," he said.

"Sec. Robredo also said the government will review the tasking of PNP and refer to the Department of Justice the proposed changes in 2009 guidelines as it applies to DAR orders, establish PNP outposts in critical areas where installed farmers are being harassed; and lastly establish a direct line of communication with the DILG," he said.

"Present in that meeting were — just to give you some of the members — from the government side: the President, Secretary Butch Abad, myself, Secretary Alcala, Secretary Gil de los Reyes, and Secretary Julia Abad; from the farmers, the agrarian reform advocates: former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Atty. Christian Monsod, Atty. Armando Jarilla of Task Force Mapalad, and some of the farmers themselves: Mr. Alberto Jaime, the Task Force Mapalad president; Ms. Edna Sobrecaray, Task Force Mapalad spokesperson," he said.

"Among the church people we had Bishop Ledesma, Bishop Bernardino C. Cortes, Fr. Marlon Lacal, the executive secretary of the AMRSP, and Fr. Anton Pascual of the Caritas Manila," he said. (PNA)

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