Landless peasant women of Task Force Mapalad had their heads shaved on March 10, 2015, outside Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to protest landlord-politicians' refusal to extend and overhaul CARP. Photo by TFM

Negros News – Negros solons told: Stop bending truth, CARP isn’t perfect but it freed us from slavery

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Visayan Business Post, it’s staff or affiliates.

NEGROS NEWS – It was not a perfect social justice program but definitely a much better alternative than being forever mired in poverty and being treated like slaves by greedy hacienderos.

Negros Occidental farmers who benefitted from the 27-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) issued this statement on Thursday as they belied claims of lawmakers in the province, who mostly belong to landlord-families, that CARP was a total failure.

“Landlord-politicians in Negros opposed to CARP should stop bending the truth to suit their selfish interest. You and farmers like us, who became your slaves, know why you don’t want CARP overhauled and extended. It’s because you’re afraid to lose millions of pesos of income that you built from the backs of landless peasants. It’s because your greed is so great that you want to amass everything that’s why your farmworkers, as poor as rats, don’t have money to buy food, send their children to school, and find a way our of poverty,” said Alberto Jayme, president of the Negros chapter of national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (TFM).

The 49-year-old Jayme, who started working in a sugarcane hacienda in Negros when he was nine years old, said he was the living proof that farmers freed from landlord-slavery benefitted from the CARP by continuing their struggle for land rights as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and the CARP Law, which was started by the administration of President Corazon Aquino in 1988.

After years of fighting for their rights through the CARP, Jayme and his fellow farmworkers in 2013 became the owners of the 50-hectare Hacienda Erico in Cadiz City, which used to be controlled by ariendador or lessee Jaynem See.

With the 2.58-hectare portion of the hacienda awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Jayme, the TFM peasant leader said he was able increase his monthly income by 3,900 percent.

“Kulang-kulang lang po ng limandaang piso ang kinikita ko kada buwan noong ako’y farmworker pa. Ito po’y tumaas ng humigit-kumulang na P20,000 kada buwan matapos akong magkaron ng net income na aabot sa P240,000 per crop season sa pagtatanim ng tubo,” said Jayme.

“Di pa pa ako kasing yaman ng mga haciendero, at lalong hindi kasing sakim tulad nila. Pero napakalaki na po ng nagbago sa aking buhay. Di na ako alipin. Napapag-aral ko na ang dalawang anak ko sa kolehiyo. Di na kailangang mangatulong ang asawa ko Maynila. Di na kami kailanman nalipasan ng gutom. At ako na rin po ang nagma-manage ng aking lupain at direktang humahawak ng bunga ng aking pinaghirapan,” said Jayme.

Jayme said his fellow Negros farmers belonging to TFM who became landowners like him through the CARP — such as those in Hacienda Grande in La Castellana town used to be owned by the Arroyos, Hacienda Bacan in Isabela town that was also formerly owned by the family of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Hacienda Velez Malaga also in La Castellana used to be owned by the Cuencas , and Hacienda Carmenchika in Pontevedra town formerly owned by the Benedictos – were also able to improve their lives even though support services from the government was either insufficient or lacking.

“While it’s also true that the CARP failed to break up all land monopolies, it is not a total failure. Despite CARP’s imperfections, farmers were able to use the program to free themselves from slavery. This resulted in the distribution of many haciendas in Negros like those formerly controlled by politically powerful and influential families like the Arroyos, Cuencas, Gustilos, Lacsons, Jalandonis, Coscolluelas, and Ledesmas,” said Jayme.

Jayme criticized anti-CARP Negros Occidental solons led by Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer for complaining about the insufficient or lack of support services for CARP beneficiaries.

“Dapat po sarili nila ang sisihin nila. Landlord-politicians like Negros congressmen opposing CARP are among the reasons why the budget for CARP support services was small or even nil. They were the ones who put loopholes in the CARP Law — such as the stock distribution option scheme, deferment in the distribution of commercial farms, joint-venture agreements, and fake land transfers through voluntary land transfers — so agrarian reform won’t succeed,” said Jayme.

“These landlord-politicians in the House also made sure that CARP would always be underfunded by about P50 billion for the first 20 years of its implementation and about P20 billion in the last five years of the program,” added Jayme.

Task Force Mapalad

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Visayan Business Post, it’s staff or affiliates.