Press Release
December 17, 2008

Pimentel seeks longer CARP extension to dispose of backlog of land cases

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he is in full support of the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program but stressed that it must be for a longer period to enable the government to dispose of the huge backlog of land acquisition and distribution cases.

Pimentel said CARP must be extended by at least one year, instead of only six months as embodied in a resolution that was drafted by the committee on agrarian reform, chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, and submitted to the Senate for plenary deliberations and approval.

"I do believe in extension. Otherwise, without the extension the land acquisition and distribution scheme under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will die a legal death by the end of this year. And that will have a tremendous adverse impact on our nation in general considering the situation. " he said.

The minority leader said the land acquisition and distribution cases awaiting action and disposition by the Department of Agrarian Reform, Land Bank of the Philippines and other state agencies include the following:

For issuance of certificate of land ownership award (CLOA), 7 haciendas, 120 farmer-beneficiaries covering l95 hectares; for Land Bank valuation and issuance of certificate of deposits, 6 haciendas, 285 farmer-beneficiaries, 5l6 hectares; at the pre-processing unit level of the DAR and Land Bank, 36 haciendas, 2,022 farmer-beneficiaries. 4,129 hectares; for area-approved survey plan, ll haciendas, 521 farmer-beneficiaries, 2,l53 hectares; for survey and final survey, 21 haciendas, l,049 farmer-beneficiaries, 2,154 hectares; and for notice of coverage, 35 haciendas, 982 farmer-beneficiaries, 2,468 hectares.

Pimentel said these data are only partial and do not represent the full range of activities that are now pending with the DAR for various actions.

"I mention these just to illustrate the fact that I doubt very much that we can do all these things within six months, that is up to June 30, 2009," he said.

"This is the backlog that we are trying to address. I can see that the committee really wants to do something about the pendency of these issues so that the farmer-beneficiaries will understand that they are not being taken for a ride, not by the committee or by the Senate at the very least."

Pimentel said his suggestion is to extend CARP by two years, but a compromise period of one year is acceptable with the understanding that it can still be extended afterwards.

He said "we know for a fact that there are forces beyond our control and they want a shorter period."

"I would like to go along with the general idea that there must be an extension but hopefully, we can have a longer period of extension than the six month period," the minority leader said.

He said it is utterly irrational, and not within the realm of reason that "we can accomplish the objective of disposing of items that are pending within the six-month time-frame."

"We are not talking of new (land) acquisitions. We are limiting ourselves to matters that are already within the jurisdiction of the DAR and awaiting action of the bureaucrats handling these cases."

He expressed the hope that the committee will consider and adopt as a committee resolution a compromise of one-year extension at the very least for purposes of disposing of the pending matters at the DAR in various stages.

"We hope that if there is a need for further extension, we can do so at the proper time. That is just about the only hope that I can articulate in behalf of the farmers who are now on hunger strike and the bishops who have joined them. This is the first time that the shepherds are joining the sheeps in seeking for justice through a hunger strike."

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