Govt not serious in land reform: Bishop

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MANILA, Oct. 10, 2012— Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has remarked Wednesday that the government is not serious in implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The head of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expressed concern that CARP may soon expire “without substantial accomplishment.”

“Millions of landless tillers will remain landless. Worse, thousands of DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) employees would soon be jobless,” Pabillo said.

He lamented that from July 2010 to August 2012, only 255, 506 hectares have so far been distributed to farmer beneficiaries out of the remaining 1,209,236 hectares of land.

“This is a very dismal performance,” said Pabillo.

In terms of budget, the agrarian reform law allocates P150 billion for five years or P30 billion per year. Yet, according to him, DAR’s budget in 2011 was only P18 billion, P21 billion in 2012 and another P21.7 billion for 2013.

He added that since 2009 to the present, only P76 billion or half has been spent out of the total budget.

“This under spending reflects the government is not serious in implementing the program and did not consider it as a priority,” Pabillo said.

Malacañang earlier said it will try its best to complete the program, which ends in 2014, by the time the Aquino administration completes its term in 2016.

The prelate also criticized the impending move to abolish DAR by 2014.

He said that dismantling DAR, at a time when there is backlog of land allocation and distribution, will do more harm than good to agrarian reform program.

The church official added that it also puts into question the real intention of the transition plan – “does it want to speed up the distribution of lands or is it simply a ploy to abandon the agrarian reform program?”

“In lieu of abolishing DAR, Nassa calls upon President Benigno Aquino III, if he is truly committed to CARPER (with extension and reform), to have someone at the helm of DAR who has the will, heart and skills to manage and implement the program,” he said.

“If the problem of CARPER implementation is on workload or backlog, then there should be increased support to the personnel for greater efficiency.  If the problem is the lack of budget, then it should be increased.”

“If the problem is with policies, amend them.  If the problem is in the leadership, as employees and AR advocates have identified, replace the leadership with someone who can ensure more efficient implementation of the Agrarian Reform program,” he said. [RL/CBCPNews]

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