Today, we observe the 34th year of one of the greatest agriculture scams in the history of the Philippines, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP. Just a day shy away from its anniversary, state forces at the service of big landlords in Tarlac harassed and baselessly arrested farmers of MAKISAMA and 92 individuals coming from different pro-peasant organizations such as KMP, SAKA, and ARPAK who were doing peaceful solidarity work with the farmers’ collective land cultivation activity locally known as bungkalan.
Since 2016, farmer organizations such as MAKISAMA have been launching bungkalan activities in their agriculture as a means of protest and resistance to the unfair treatment of CARP over their claim to land ownership. In 1995, more than 200 farmers including farmers from MAKISAMA had been granted land ownership to some 200 hectares of productive agricultural land in Tinang, Tarlac under CARP’s Collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award.
However, a farmer cooperative owned by the local politicians in the area utilized the inconsistencies of CARP allowing them to prevent the implementation of land distribution to the more than 200 farmers for almost three decades. By 2018, thru bungkalan and other ways to echo their fight, Tinang farmers were successful with their call to redistribute their rightful lands that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was set to launch the land distribution. The success was cut short as the slow implementation of DAR was overrun by the militaristic lockdown brought by the pandemic. By 2021, as the protocols for the pandemic ease up and the distribution was set to return once again, Tinang farmers were surprised that the more than 200 farmers in the list of agrarian reform beneficiaries was replaced by 36 individuals who are not even in their collective.
Amid the uphill battle for land ownership, last March, airing their desire to equip themselves with sustainable and pro-people knowledge in agriculture and land management, MASIPAG conducted its orientation on sustainable agriculture to the farmers of MAKISAMA in Tinang, Tarlac. It is clear that while the farmers of Tinang have all the intention to cultivate their land through sustainable and safe means while providing safe, nutritious and adequate food for all.
Drowning every possible meaningful outcome in its merciless, bureaucratic and secretive processes, agrarian reform programs such as CARP proves to not have guaranteed the right to land ownership of small farmers and instead enacted state-sanctioned violence to them and to their allies and land advocates.
Thebrutal, unjust, and baseless arrest of farmers and their allies happened in Tinang, Tarlac during the eve of CARP’s 34th anniversary is a living testament of its failures and nature that it is geared at the service of the landlords.
Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura calls for the unconditional release of the 92 individuals currently illegally detained in Concepcion Tarlac police station. Moreover, along with the countless farmers, organizations, and individuals, MASIPAG reiterates its call to ensure and protect farmers’ civil and political rights. We likewise enjoin the farmers, organizations, and individuals call for genuine land distribution to all farmers.