Bishops press Aquino on agrarian reform implementation

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Friday, February 1, 2013

MANILA -- The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is calling on President Benigno Aquino III to take the lead in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) with its expiration already looming in July 2014.

In a letter signed by 78 of the 120 members of CBCP, the bishops said there is a need for Aquino to take a hands-on approach on the program due to its dismal implementation since the Carp extension with reforms (Carper) law was signed August 2009.

"Mr. President, please take a quick decisive action that Carper be fully implemented," said the bishops. "You are racing against time. We make this appeal with great urgency."

The prelates stressed that it is imperative for Aquino to pick up the cudgels from his mother, the late former president Corazon Aquino, who had placed the CARP as her "center-piece" social justice program.

"Is it a design of the Divine Providence that what your mother, of happy memory, started would be finished within your term when the Carper law ends by July of 2014?" noted the bishops.

Among the remaining problems in the implementation of Carper, noted the bishops, are the inadequate allocation of Carper funds; the underperformance of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); and the continued human rights violations being suffered by farmers.

To note, the Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by Aquino's family in Tarlac, is one of those that are subjected to the Carper.

Aside from the President's action, the bishops also called for the replacement of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes.

"Revamp the current leadership of DAR, which underperformed these past two and one-half years," said the bishops.

They noted how Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) targets have been reduced in 2012 from 260,000 hectares to 180,000 hectares while shortfalls in 2010 and 2011 number to about 254,653 hectares. (HDT/Sunnex)

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