Press Release
November 9, 2008


Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to comply with a Senate directive to make a full accounting of the funds intended for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as a condition for the chamber's approval of the extension of the program which expired on June l0.

Pimentel said Pangandaman should explain how the multibillions of pesos allocated by Congress for CARP were spent and utilized at least during the almost eight-year administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Senate committee on agrarian reform, chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, has already reported out the bill extending CARP and recommending a Pl50 billion budget. But Pimentel said that Honasan has granted his request for the committee to hold one more hearing to enable Pangandaman to respond to allegations about misuse and alleged illegal diversion of program funds. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Up to now, he said the Department of Agrarian Reform has not explained how CARP funds were channeled to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao despite the fact that ARMM is not covered by CARP.

He said the DAR should also account for the utilization of its P30 billion share from the "ill-gotten" Marcos deposits in Swiss banks totaling P38 billion that were recovered by the Philippine government.

"Secretary Pangandaman needs to tell the Senate why DAR money went to ARMM areas that are not covered by CARP. He needs to tell the Senate how come the Marcos money from the Swiss bank accounts were consumed in less than a year," the senator from Mindanao said.

"He needs to tell the Senate why the demonstrators at the DAR office were manhandled by people identified by his office. He needs to answer a thousand and one question why the DAR appears to be clueless as to its mandate, its directions and its justification for being."

Pimentel said Secretary Pangandaman will also be asked what his department is doing to finally resolve the land dispute between former Negros Oriental Rep. Herminio Teves and the 19 tenant-farmers who were granted ownership of the 33-hectare Teves Hacienda through a DAR decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court four years ago.

Officials of DAR have dilly-dallied in finalizing the turnover of the property to the farmers due to Teves' continued defiance of the decision.

Pimentel bewailed that due to the government's failure to settle the land dispute, the agrarian reform beneficiaries last week forcibly entered and took possession of the hacienda located in Bayawan and Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Pimentel said the according to the latest report reaching his office, a group of men with firearms had surrounded the farmers. He said this prompted him to call on Philippine National Director General Jesus Verzosa to step into the case and to take steps to prevent bloodshed.

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