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RA 9700 – CARPER Law – now one year old

August 15, 2010

One year has passed since the August 7, 2009 signing into law of Republic Act No. 9700 – CARP Extension with Reforms, or the CARPER Law, the legislation that extends the implementation period of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL, per RA 6657), for another five years, until year 2014.  RA 9700 was signed in Plaridel, Bulacan, by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose constitutional term ended on June 30, 2010 noon time.

During the past one year of RA 9700, only a few administrative orders had been drawn up to tailor the newly defined steps and activities in strictly implementing the extender law.  Unlike in RA 6657, the extender law has entailed the tailor-fitting of a lengthy implementing rules and regulations (IRR), and the detailed accounting of agrarian reform beneficiaries who had supposedly received land titles from the Department of Agrarian Reform.  Those titles are known as certificates of land ownership award  (CLOAs),  issued to individuals as evidence that they have ascended to the level of landowners with the right to exercise all the rights and duties  appurtenant to land ownership.

With the election of a new President of the Republic of the Philippines, in the person of former Senator Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III – whose astounding popularity, which his person gained from the time he was wooed to run for President until his proclamation as duly elected President, earned for him the monicker title “P-Noy”, for President Noynoy, Noynoy being his pet name in the Aquino family and circles of friends and relatives – new hopes have been attached to the changing of the agrarian landscape.  A few minutes after his first state of the nation address (SONA) at past 12 high noon of June 30, 2010, a few government policy watchers and political analysts had noticed that PNoy (I prefer to ascribe that calling to P-Noy) did not mention agrarian reform or the Hacienda Luisita in his speech.  The Hacienda, more than one month later, would become a scene of a referendum where more than 6,000 of its workers gave a 90 per cent high vote to express their preference for a stock distribution option (SDO) than to opt for ownership of part of the vast hacienda lands in Tarlac, Tarlac.  PNoy was just consistent, it seemed:  He didn’t dwell on the CARP in his SONA, and neither did he dip his fingers into the Hacienda case since Day 1 of his presidency.  PNoy was right. An hour after the referendum results were known, plans were up to bring the compromise voting exercise to the Supreme Court, for a final resolution of the issue, whether it was legal.  But PNoy’s non-mention of CARP didn’t mean he was abdicating the agrarian program.  By July 1, it was already known nationwide that this bachelor national leader who has a mind of his own had appointed attorney Virgilio Delos Reyes as Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.  Before that, he had to make sure that the people who elected him – his masters – appreciated well that he was seriously for the successful implementation of the agrarian program, and the CARPER LAW, thus he took in a former Agrarian Secretary, Florencio “Butch” Abad, as his Budget Secretary, to ensure that the right cash budget for the agrarian program is always there so that finally the program can be completely accomplished, as desired.  And long before he was a congressman, Noynoy already must have understood fully well how the agrarian reform in this country should work:  He was born to a family whose vast hacienda was an agrarian matter even before his birth, and he was beside his mother when President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino penned the first Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – Proclamation No. 131, the precursor of RA 6657, the first and only Executive fiat that expanded the coverage of agrarian reform, to include even the limited rice and corn lands of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.    RA 6657 was to be correctly referred to as CARL, for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law Do you remember all these?  On July 22, 1987, Pres. Cory Aquino signed into law her Proclamation No. 131 (Instituting A Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) “which shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in the Constitution, including whenever applicable in accordance with law, other lands of the public domain suitable to agriculture” (Section 1, Proc. 131).  A companion measure, Executive Order No. 229, also signed by Pres. Cory on July 22, 1987, to provide the mechanisms for CARP’s implementation, said in Sec. 2 thereof:  “Implementation.  Land acquisition and distribution shall be implemented as provided in this Order as to all kinds of lands under the coverage of the program, subject to such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress may under the Constitution prescribe, taking into account ecological, developmental, or equity considerations, and subject to the payment of just compensation”.

RA 9700 prescribes time lines for particular land acquisition and distribution activities.  In observing these time periods, the DAR had perforce to define specific steps and formulate specific procedures, with carefully studied forms to be used in the implementation of the extended program.  That has taken most of the months, weeks, and days of the DAR personnel during the first year of the extender law.

October 15and October 21 in year 2009 became significant dates.  On Oct. 15, then DAR Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman penned three DAR Administrative Orders (AOs) – 02, 03 and 04 – and six days later, these Orders were published in national newspapers of general circulation. AO 02 is a 95-page document on the “Rules and Procedures Governing the Acquisition and Distribution of Agricultural Lands Under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, as amended by R.A. No. 9700”.  It also presents in tabular form the series of steps and activities to be undertaken, as well as the forms and documents required.  AO 02 was accompanied eight months later by a 2-page Memorandum Circular No. 06 which establishes “clarificatory guidelines on the transitory provisions” of AO 02.  AO 03 - “Rules and Procedures Governing the Cancellation of Registered Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), Emancipation Patents (EPs), and Other Titles Issued Under Any Agrarian Reform Program” – consists of 11 pages.  Four-page AO 04 prescribes “Rules and Regulations implementing Section 19 of R.A. No. 9700 (Jurisdiction on and Referral of Agrarian Dispute”.

On Oct. 28, the 24-page AO No. 05, series of 2009, was signed by Sec. Pangandaman, and on November 3, it was published in two newspapers.  The Order defines the “Implementing Rules and Regulations on Support Services Delivery Under Republic Act No. 9700”.

The Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC) Executive Committee (ExeCom) also issued last year AO No. 01 to cover the “procedures and data requirement in the declaration of certain provinces as ‘priority land reform areas’ which will enable them to: (1) advance to the acquisition and distribution of landholdings enumerated under the next phase of implementation or (2) advance to the acquisition and distribution of landholdings covered under phase 3-b implementation based on the conditions cited under paragraph 9, section 5 of RA 9700”.   [The PARC was given birth in Pres. Cory’s Proc. 131 “to coordinate the implementation of the CARP and to ensure the timely and effective delivery of the necessary support services”, with the President of the Philippines as Chairman.  As such it formulates and/or implements the policies, rules and regulations necessary” – like the schedule of acquisition and redistribution of specific agrarian reform areas, and control mechanisms for evaluating the owner’s declaration of current fair market value.  On the other hand, the ExeCom of the PARC, also created by Proc. 131, is headed by the DAR Secretary as Chairman and the heads of the following agencies as members: Executive Secretary; departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Public Works and Highways; and Land Bank of the Philippines.  The PARC has been built into the RA 6657 and respected in RA 9700.]