Carper: United States Congress and Agrarian Reform

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Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) Bill, that aims to redistribute all agricultural lands to landless farmers. Is an act amending several provisions of Republic Act 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988. It was first filed as House Bill 1527 by Akbayan Party list Rep. Risa Hontiveros in 2007, it was later substituted by House Bill 4077, also sponsored by Hontiveros and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the version made into law. Its Senate counterpart was Senate Bill 2666, filed by Sen. Gregorio Honasan. In December 2008, the budget for CARP has expired and there remains 1.2 million hectares of agricultural lands waiting to be acquired and distributed to farmers. Philippine Congress being a landlord dominated institution is reluctant to continue the funding of CARP despite the clear call by farmers and the President to pass a CARP Extension with Reforms law. Beginning with the amendment of Sec. 2 and 3 of the CARL, which defines the duty of the state to initiate the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its beneficiaries, the CARPER primarily extends the land distribution program of CARP by five years. It also redefines the scope of the program, and as the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports, does away with the provision for voluntary land transfer, which was used by landlords to distribute the land under the controversial Stock Distribution Option. In Sec. 18, the CARPER also mandates that all land reform cases must be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) except for cases falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the DAR, and other related agencies on agrarian reform cases. A new...
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