Gov’t assures CARP extension for 5 years

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — GOVERNMENT assured the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another five years.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said that members of the House of Representatives have renewed their commitment to the government for the passage of the measure for the CARP extension for another five years as mandated in our Constitution.

Pangandaman reacted to reports that the House of Representatives deferred action on the bill extending the CARP implementation for the next opening of Congress this July, and instead passed a joint Resolution No. 21 authored by rep. Edcel Lagman saying that the CARP will not expire.

The DAR secretary clarified that the position of his office at DAR is that the expiration of the land acquisition and distribution components of the CARP will still expire on December, 2008 contrary to beliefs of some farmers that it would end on Sunday, June 15.

He said that the DAR is confident that the Supreme Court will uphold their stance on the expiration date of land acquisition and distribution components of the program in case it will be elevated before the courts.

Pangandaman dismissed the need for any special session for Congress for the extension measure to be passed, pointing out the solons have enough time to come out with a resolution for the CARP extension.

Also, the DAR secretary brushed aside speculations that the Arroyo land has been exempted from CARP coverage, pointing out that about 90 percent have already been distributed to qualified farmers and have been covered by the program.

He said that the extension for CARP is needed since they still have about 130,000 hectares of land to be acquired and distributed to farmers in line with the operation of the program.

He said that the DAR has proposed for another P160 billion for the CARP implementation in the next five years.

The DAR chief also said that of the nine million hectares of land, the DAR and the DENR have so far distributed 7.1 million and with a balance of 1.2 million yet to be distributed to farmers and another 600,000 hectares to be distributed by the DENR.

He said that he is confident that Sen. Aquilino Nene Pimentel would be satisfied already with the documents the DAR has submitted to him on the utilization of the CARP fund totaling about P162 billion since 1988.

Pangandaman disclosed that the DAR has only about P12 billion balance in funding for the CARP implementation.