GMA BACKS BILL EXTENDING  COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN  REFORM PROGRAM (CARP)

MANILA
, JUNE 16, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - President Arroyo has backed a bill seeking to extend for another 10 years the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) after it ends in June next year.

Speaking at the 19th CARP anniversary at Malacañang yesterday, acting Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said concerned sectors are drafting a bill that would be filed when the 14th Congress begins session next month.

“This was actually discussed during our last Cabinet meeting,” he said. “I’m very happy that the President is supporting the extension of the program for another 10 years.”

Pangandaman said the CARP’s extension would allow the government to work on the remaining two million hectares of land placed under agrarian reform.

“We still have more than one million hectares of land that have yet to be distributed so we’ll be targeting these balances and simultaneously we’ll be supporting our farmers in the countryside,” he said.

“These pertain to those who have already been given almost four million hectares of land.”

The new 10-year program will also focus the gradual shift to support services, Pangandaman said.

Since the enactment of Republic Act 6657 in 1988, a total of seven million hectares of land have already been placed under the CARP, benefiting around four million farmers.

There was actually a prior bill that was filed in Congress but was not passed, so this would have to be re-filed.

A manifesto of support for the CARP bill from various sectors, including people’s organizations and non-government organizations, was presented to Mrs. Arroyo yesterday.

Mrs. Arroyo, in turn, handed it to Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, who was chairman of the House committee on agrarian reform.

The CARP was instituted in 1988 through RA 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, to promote social justice and industrialization, particularly among farmers.

It is set to end on June 10, 2008.

Funding for the new program would come from the General Appropriations Act and the Agrarian Reform Fund.

During yesterday’s ceremony, Mrs. Arroyo handed out awards to the outstanding agrarian reform organizations, land owners, beneficiary, community, irrigators associations and beneficiaries’ organizations.

Plaques of recognition were also awarded by Mrs. Arroyo to the five private sector representatives of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, and the 14 foreign donor countries and financial institutions that contributed to the CARP.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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