Bataan solon moves to start 2nd phase of agrarian reform program

Bataan 1st district Rep. Geraldine Roman is pushing for legislation that would complete the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by facilitating its second phase.

House Bill (HB) No.223, which Roman filed, institutes the second phase of the CARP, which includes the distribution of fully-subsidized agricultural lands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

Under this set-up, the ARBs are no longer required to pay any amortization for their awarded lands. The beneficiaries shall benefit from the government subsidy to the extent of the unpaid amortization and interest charges which are due.

“The call of the times is not to end agrarian reform program. The challenge of times is to ensure its continuation as an integral component of our national development and social justice program," Roman said in HB No.223.

"Mindful of the gaps and the inadequacies of the previous manner of program implementation, we commence the second phase of agrarian reform,” added the chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality.

Furthermore, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) shall issue and serve the Notice of Coverage to all landowners or private agricultural lands whose ownership exceeds the five-hectare ceiling imposed by Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) No.6657, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Law of 1998,” as amended, including the distribution of individual CLOAs to agrarian reform beneficiaries, except to retention areas of landowners.

Any issue, dispute, or controversy arising from the issuance of the Notice of Coverage shall be resolved by DAR subject to existing rules and regulations without prejudice to the continuation of the land acquisition and distribution process despite the pendency of any such issue, dispute, or controversy, the bill said.

Roman said the ownership, use, and disposition of agricultural lands is not just a matter of property rights. “It goes beyond agricultural productivity or food sufficiency. It is about social justice,” she said.

“The farmer-beneficiary ends up as a mere stockholder subject to the manipulative control of the governing body of a hacienda corporation,” Roman said, adding that the farmer-beneficiary is also vulnerable to the whims of an agrarian reform cooperative.