Roxas bares LP position on CARL

Sunday, May 25, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , , | 0 comments

Senator Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party President, said that his party will be pushing for an extension of the agrarian reform program, but only with changes in the present law which would truly benefit the farmer.

The LP’s stand is: Farmers deserve real change. What is needed especially in this time of high prices is the strengthening of our farm sector, with government providing all the help it can provide,” Roxas said.

The senator noted that the party position was the result of intensive policy discussions, where the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) was assessed and deemed to have lacked support services to empower farmers to better manage their land.

What is needed is for real social justice to come about from an extension of CARL, not empty promises. While we favor the extension of CARL, we also see the need for reforms to make it a genuine vehicle for social justice and economic development,” he said.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce said that the LP would push for a 5-year extension of the law, focusing on several points.

First, land must be made productive and be profitable for farmers. The prevalent situation since 1988 has been a farmer being awarded his own land, but because of the lack of tools and know-how, the land becomes idle or is sold back to the original landowner,” he said.

To empower the farmers, following support services must be provided:
  • Readily available low-interest and long-term credit facilities;
  • Seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and other inputs;
  • Adequate drying and milling capabilities;
  • Market access;
  • Training and capacity-building; and
  • Full support of the Department of Agriculture, local government units and the Department of Agrarian Reform as partners-for-change.

Second, Roxas said the principle of fairness and transparency must be applied to all stakeholders. The LP proposes:

  • Settlement of all previous land acquisition as a confidence-building measure for the next wave of reformed lands;
  • Just and prompt payment to all landowners for their CARP-subjected land;
  • Fairness and transparency in resolving disputes on land valuation and ownership; and
  • Clearly specified sources of funds for the next phase of CARP to ensure sustainability and effective implementation.

In policy discussions, Roxas said the Liberal Party also agreed that the current rice and food crisis requires a strict prohibition in the conversion of irrigated farmlands.

These lands were irrigated for a long-term purpose, and the amount spent on this should not go to waste. The present rice crisis can be blamed in part on the mismanagement of irrigated lands,” he said.

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