AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano Monday urged peace negotiators from the government and National Democratic Front to place all agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Even those already classified into other uses other than agricultural must be placed under the program, he said.
Mariano, in a position paper, told the two panels that “actual use” of the land should be made the basis for agrarian reform coverage, “not its classification.”
He said there were lands, which might not be classified as agricultural, but were already tilled and developed by farmers.
“It must cover the remaining unacquired public and private agricultural lands, which approximately total to more or less six million hectares and distribute them for free to the farmers,” he said.
Such scheme would make the “program to be truly comprehensive,” he said.
“The exemptions and exclusions provided by the Carp should be removed. Those lands previously exempted or excluded from Carp coverage must also be reviewed, and if the lands remain agricultural in use, they should be placed under the coverage of the agrarian reform program,” he added.
He said there was a need for farmer-beneficiaries to have “full control of the land and of the agricultural production.”
“Non-land transfer schemes must be discontinued,” he said, referring to stock distribution option.
The SDO scheme came under scrutiny due to various violations committed by the landowners against the supposed farmer-beneficiaries or stockholders.
“They ought not to be considered an agrarian reform program for they perpetuate landlessness and merely legalized business control of landholdings to the detriment of our farmers,” the agrarian reform chief said.
He said the beneficiaries must also be provided sufficient support services to “ensure that the lands awarded to them would become productive.”