Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lacson: Farmers Need Support Services More Than Extended CARP

More than an extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), farmers need adequate support services from the government to make sure they have the means to till their land.

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson stressed this Tuesday as he said the CARP had been turned into a milking cow for unscrupulous parties, including some officials and employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

“Instead of extending the CARP, which has been the milking cow of unscrupulous DAR employees during the past so many years, I am inclined to push for an efficient support program for the farmer beneficiaries already covered by the CARP. We have seen so many cases of farmer beneficiaries having land to till but with no means to do it,” Lacson said.

Congress is presently working on a proposed law to extend by at least five years the life of CARP, which lapses this month. MalacaƱang said it is waiting for Congress to submit the bill for its action.

The proposed CARP extension measure also provides for a corresponding budget of P100 billion.

But Lacson stressed it would be better if the government channeled the funds to much-needed intervention services for the farmer beneficiaries. These services include irrigation, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities and technical support, and availability of seeds and other inputs.

More importantly, he said there should be no monkey business this time. He said the last thing farmers want is to see a repeat of the P728-million fertilizer scam engineered by then agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante.

“Government intervention is much needed on that aspect. I would suggest that CARP funds, whatever is left of it, should be re-channeled to this effort,” Lacson said.

“Besides, I have information that the government has been losing cases before the courts lately. Is this happening based on the merits, or is it happening for millions of reasons?” he added.

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