Note: What follows is a statement by the Filipino youth activist group Anakbayan. This is a corrected version of an earlier statement which said the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB does not give any compensation to landowners. GARB does give just compensation to landowners provided that the land in question is not acquired through fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force or violence.
Anakbayan condemns the Aquino-Akbayan scheme to extend the implementation of the bogus, pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms or CARPER. The program has not only failed in redistributing land that rightfully belongs to the peasantry, but has strengthened landlord domination in the last 27 years.
To conjure the illusion of popular support for CARPER, Akbayan has taken to attacking the Makabayan Bloc and its affiliated people’s organizations for a supposed “unholy alliance” with big landlords in Congress to block the extension of the program.
Akbayan is whipping up classic Marcos-era rhetoric of an imaginary “Right-Left” alliance in order to shield its main benefactor, BS Aquino, from the growing calls for his resignation. True to their opportunist politics, Akbayan seeks to divert the people’s attention from the grave political crisis engulfing the Aquino regime.
This devious publicity stunt is also meant to conceal the fact that Akbayan itself is allied with the chief representative of the landlord class who is no other than BS Aquino himself. It is Akbayan that has made the pact with the devil himself, the scion of one of the country’s most despotic landlord families notorious for the1987 Mendiola massacre and the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre of protesting peasants.
In truth, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was originally passed in 1988 during the term of former President Corazon Aquino to allow the evasion, exemption, and land conversion of vast estates and haciendas owned by big landlords, including Hacienda Luisita which presently remains under the control of the Aquino-Cojuangcos.
CARP and CARPER gives primacy to the compensation of big landlords by government while mandating farmer-beneficiaries to pay for the land distributed to them for a period of 30 years. Majority of Filipino farmers are landless and continue to suffer from various forms of semi-feudal exploitation such as high land rent, usury, low wages, servitude, and land grabbing.
With the deadline of the original CARP reached by 2008, some 1.2 million hectares of agricultural lands remained undistributed to farmers while over a hundred thousand land disputes still remained unresolved. After 3 decades, both CARP and CARPER have ended unceremoniously with no significant achievement in terms of land distribution.
It is therefore not progressive groups opposed to the CARPER that has made agrarian reform a stunning failure in the country. The real stumbling blocks to genuine land reform are pseudo-progressive groups like Akbayan that has opportunistically sold the Filipino peasantry to the biggest landlord in the land in exchange for pork, positions, and other perks in the current administration.
Anakbayan urges the Filipino youth to join the peasants, workers, and the rest of the Filipino people in pushing for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB. Unlike CARP, GARB will distribute land to farmers at no cost to pave the way for the nationalization of all agricultural lands as the basis for national industrialization.
We likewise urge the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to re-evaluate its position on CARPER and avoid being deceived by the big landlord Aquino regime and its rabid lapdog Akbayan.
The call for genuine land reform remains the primary democratic demand of the Filipino people and is totally opposed to the sham land reform program of BS Aquino’s haciendero regime. You can fool the people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time. This time, haciendero puppy Akbayan is only fooling itself.