Iggy Arroyo: CARP to cover family-owned land

PRESIDENTIAL brother-in-law Rep. Jose Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo indicated yesterday that the sugar plantation the Arroyo family owns in Negros Occidental would still be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP.

“There is no truth to the allegation that the Biofuels Act will protect sugar land from CARP. Land conversion has no connection to the Biofuels Act,” he said in a text message to The STAR.


He was commenting on the report by VERA Files’ Jessica Hermosa and Johanna Sisante that the Arroyo family has complied with most of the government requirements for converting its 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Isabela town from a sugar plantation into agro-industrial uses, mainly for the production of ethanol.

Their tenants fear that if the family succeeds in converting the sugar farm, the Arroyos would be able to skirt CARP and would not be required to distribute their lands to its occupant-tillers.

Representative Arroyo, who chairs the House committee on environment and natural resources, is one of the authors of the Biofuels Act.
He defended the law, saying it is good for the country.


“It will lessen our dependence on fossil fuel, which is harmful to the environment. The Biofuels Act is not anti-CARP. These are all unfounded fears. Because we don’t have oil reserves, we should look into other sources of fuel,” he said.

Hermosa and Sisante reported that conversion of the Arroyos’ hacienda would nullify the claims of 67 farmer-tenants who have been waiting for more than a decade for the Department of Agrarian Reform to award them the land they till.

It would also contradict President Arroyo’s supposed policy statement declaring a moratorium on land conversion to protect the country’s agricultural economy.

The two authors reported that Rep. Arroyo declined to be interviewed for their report.

His office said the land use conversion issue “doesn’t have any relevance” to the Biofuels Act, they said.

However, in his text message to The STAR yesterday, the President’s brother-in-law denied refusing to be interviewed.

“By the way, I did not decline the interview as reported in The STAR,” he said.

 —Reprinted from The Philippine Star, 8 April 2008