FROM IBON FOUNDATION: LARGE HECTARES OF LAND STILL UNDISTRIBUTED SHOWS CARP HAS FAILED

JULY 2  -Under the extended CARP, land acquisition and distribution (LAD) balance is still big at 890,671 hectares As the five-year extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) expires today, research group IBON says its failure is affirmed by the remaining thousands of hectares of Spanish-time haciendas, as well as up to a million hectares being devoted to commercial agriculture ventures. After 25 years, the group noted that under the extended CARP, land acquisition and distribution (LAD) balance was still big at 890,671 hectares, a huge part of which are private agricultural lands. Some of these undistributed large landholdings include sugar blocks such as the 6,000-hectare Aquino-Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita and the 7,183-hectare Hacienda Roxas in Batangas, the 16,000-hectare Hacienda Reyes in Quezon, as well as other coconut haciendas owned by the Tans, Uys, and Cojuangcos measuring more than 5,000 hectares. Mostly owned by the country's wealthiest families, joint ventures, sugar block farms and coconut haciendas comprise almost half a million hectares supposedly targeted for compulsary acquisition (CA) but have not been issued notices of coverage (NOC) by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). According to the research group, intact haciendas are the most glaring evidence of the failure of CARP. IBON also noted that other haciendas have been converted to other uses to evade land reform coverage. Meanwhile, those that have been recorded as distributed are placed under agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) that promote commercial crop production for export. AVAs have resulted from landlords' appropriation of lands to their heirs through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) and Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT) schemes instead of distributing to farmers and workers. AVAs have also reduced agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to being farm workers with insecure incomes and land tenure—carrying on the tradition of haciendas, said the research group. In the end, CARP has facilitated land reconcentration and allowed landlords not only to evade land distribution but to further use land for their commercial gain, keeping farmers at the losing end. According to IBON, this highlights the need for a land reform program that involves genuine land distribution, government support to stimulate agricultural development, and dismantle centuries-old haciendas, among others. (end) FULL REPORT ZOURCE: http://iboninternational.org/

ALSO From Iloilo region: ‘CARP not a failure’

ILOILO City, JULY 3 --The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was a success, insisted Iloilo Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARO) Enrique Paderes. Those saying CARP was a failure were cause-oriented groups lobbying for House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), he said. From what he had gathered, Paderes said, GARB pushed for “zero retention” of land, thus akin to the total confiscation of land from the landed. From the point of view of those who have benefited from CARP, the program was good, said Paderes. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) records showed that in the province of Iloilo, the issuance of Notice of Coverage for compulsory acquisition of land had been completed. As of May 31, DAR in Iloilo already distributed a total of 66,866 hectares to 45,150 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), with an average land size of 1.48 hectares per beneficiary. However, records also revealed that DAR-Iloilo still has a total balance of 16,896 hectares for distribution before 2016. With that, Paderes said, that there is a need to extend CARP. “We don’t have the full control of the program. We are only the lead agency but the major inputs towards distribution are also coming from various entities. They have their own protocol, guidelines and systems,” Paderes explained the delay. He expressed confidence that the remaining hectares would all be distributed. “With our commitment, additional technical manpower and implementing guidelines on entitled private agricultural lands, we hope to finish the distribution of the remaining balances,” Paderes said. The extension of CARP expired on Monday, but Paderes said they will still continue with the distribution of land. This year, DAR targets to distribute a total of 4,959 hectares to some 3,000 ARBs./PN THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

IS LAND REFORM A FAILURE IN THE PHILIPPINES? AN ASSESSMENT ON CARP

ESSAY, 2011: POLITICS OF CARP FROM PRESIDENT DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL TO PRESENT FROM Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries: HISTORICAL ORIGIN AN D THE POLITICS OF LA ND REFORM IN THE PHILIPPINES Land issues have a centuries - long history in the Philippines, beginning from the colonial time of Spanish regime in 1500s up to the EDSA 2 revolution period in 1986. In each period of colonialism and independence , access to and power over land has played a decisive part in political reality. The agrarian issues were decided presumably upon the well - being of farm households and acceptance of politi cal leadership especially in the midst of rural unrest, despite the fact that e very colonial power and government followed land policies differing in terms of emphasis and prioritization. Putzel (1992) concluded that in regard to the many regime changes that the country has undergone in the last century, the legislation effort led to the accumulation of a diverse set of land policies, laws, and programs either complementary or opposing to each other . The succeeding sections impart this fact as it conveys th e origin of agrarian structures, early agrarian reform measures in various political regimes, and the present CARP agenda of the government. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippine agrarian reform: Powerful law, ineffectual bureaucracy

JUNE 11 --When the original CARP program that was passed under President Corazon Aquino was in danger of unraveling, the peasant movement came together and pushed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms, or CARPER, through Congress in 2009. That historic effort was recalled by the over 900 participants at the Agrarian Reform Congress held at the University of the Philippines last Friday, June 6. Among the high points remembered were the 1,700-kilometer march for agrarian justice by 55 farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon, to Malacañang, a now legendary feat that took place over two months in 2007. Also remembered were key figures in the fight for CARPER who have passed away, like Congressman Oscar Francisco, agrarian reform advocate Steve Quiambao, and the Sumilao peasant leader Rene Penas, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet a few weeks after the passage of CARPER. The victory of CARPER was remarkable given the fact that it took place during a distinctly non-revolutionary period, when the reigning intellectual and political climate had become less sympathetic to social justice concerns and more biased toward so-called market approaches to agrarian problems. Powerful law… CARPER was not a perfect agrarian reform law if what is meant by perfect is a law that would redistribute land with no or little compensation to landlords. Yet it was a powerful law that even some left-wing skeptics acknowledged as having tough provisions. To cite just a few: * READ MORE...

ALSO: Biggest Landless Farmers’ Caucus Calls for Completion of Agrarian Reform in Philippines 

Quezon City, Philippines, 11 June 2014 -- Fresh from renewing their unities and collectively expressing dismay at the government’s inability to seriously implement and complete agrarian reform, 200 farmers and allied organizations under the People’s Agrarian Reform Congress (PARC) once gain made a show of force at the Department of Agrarian Reform on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and on the eve of the country’s independence day. The group gathered at DAR to protest not to celebrate the occasion, and to urge President Benigno Aquino III to act decisively for the continuation and completion of the nationwide land reform effort. What was just an event last June 6, which gathered 900 participants from both rural and urban areas, the PARC is now developing into the biggest and broadest coalition of advocates of agrarian reform aiming to manifest to the Aquino administration that agrarian reform is a key item in the national development and social reform agenda and an area of governance that merits his direct intervention and leadership. The groups stressed that President Aquino cannot afford to stand on the sidelines on this issue. “His social contract with the Filipino people calls on him to wield much political and economic will needed to see the program through”, said the groups. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino assures farmers gov’t will complete CARP

JUNE 11 --President Benigno Aquino III met with a select group of farmers on Tuesday, assuring them that his administration has always been and would remain to be “committed” to distributing lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the end of his term in 2016. The meeting was apparently meant to allay fears that land distribution under CARP—a centerpiece program of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino—would remain unfinished even after the term of the second Aquino to become president. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday Mr. Aquino had a “very good discussion” with the farmers’ representatives, who included Armanda Jarilla of Task Force Mapalad and Maribel Luzara of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bundok Peninsula. “He’s committed to the full implementation of the CARP. So, he’s committed to the full implementation of land acquisition and land distribution until 2016,” Lacierda said in a press briefing. In the meeting, Lacierda said the President briefed the group about the remaining hectares of land that still had to be issued notices of coverage (NOCs) by the Department of Agrarian Reform. NOCs need to be issued before the DAR could proceed with land acquisition and distribution. But the President also made it clear that landholdings still caught in legal disputes would have to be settled through judicial processes, not by the executive branch, his spokesperson said. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes earlier admitted that the government could only acquire and distribute between 500,000 and 700,000 hectares of land by 2016.* READ MORE...

ALSO: 78,000 hectares not yet covered by land reform - DAR 

JUNE 11 --With only three days left before the lapse of the already extended land reform law, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said Saturday 8,410 landholdings involving a total of 78,303 hectares of land have yet to be distributed. These are private agricultural landholdings that, although qualified under the law for redistribution to landless farmers, have not been issued formal notices of coverage or NOCs, which would allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to acquire and parcel them out to landless farmers beyond the June 30 deadline. But De Los Reyes noted in an interview by telephone and e-mail that NOCs for half of these landholdings have actually been sent out although his agency has not received confirmation they were received by the landowners. The NOCs have also not yet been published. The DAR publishes NOCs in general-circulation newspapers when the landowners refuse to receive the NOCs delivered to them, or when the NOCs are received by persons other than the landowners, or if the owners’ addresses are unknown or vague. The agency has sent out notices for much of the 78,303 hectares of land, except for 32,360 hectares that are still in the process of preparation.* READ MORE...

ALSO: As CARP expires, what is best option for Luisita farmers? DAR bats for sugar block farming  

MANILA, JUNE 22 --Great opportunities await farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) unveiled various options each of them could avail. One option is the tested sugar block farming concept. So far, the DAR has already installed some 5,990 farmer beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita or 96.43 percent of 6,212 qualified beneficiaries. DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Rosalina Bistoyong said the sugar block farming program works best for the interest of the farmers as it envisions to get them work together for the greater good of all, while maintaining individual ownership of their newly acquired farm lots, each covering 6,600 square meters. Bistoyong said each sugar cane block farm consists of 30-60 hectares of sugar land to be managed as one block, such that activities in the small individual farms are aligned and implemented according to the plans of the whole block. DAR Secretary Gil de los Reyes said the block farming program can enhance the farmers’ social capital, which is vital in gaining greater bargaining power in various business dealings, be they for financial transactions with banks or for farm inputs/outputs trading business, since they are dealing as an organization rather than as individuals. De los Reyes said a strongly organized and credible farmers’ organization has greater chances of transacting business with banking institutions, which prefer to deal with a farmers’ organization rather than with individual farmers since they have only a set of officers representing the whole association to deal with. * READ MORE...

TIMES Commentary: Let CARP die its well-deserved death 

March, 2014 --The topic has not received that much attention in the past couple of years, but when the Philippines’ quarter-century experiment with land reform finally ends this coming June, it will have achieved an outwardly remarkable feat, as University of the Philippines Professor of Economics Raul V. Fabella explained in a paper published last month. By the expiration date of Republic Act 9700—the CARP Extension with Reform, or CARPER, which extended the original Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657) of 1988—5.05 million hectares of the 5.37 million hectares targeted by the program will have been distributed, ostensibly accounting for 2.6 million new agricultural landowners with an average of 1.2 hectares each. The figures represent an astonishing 16 percent of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares, a program that dwarfs in size and duration the much-heralded land reform programs in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.It is worthwhile to point out these achievements now, because they will undoubtedly be part of the litany of self-congratulations of President B.S. Aquino 3rd in his State of the Nation Address shortly after the book is closed on CARPER. Lest anyone be taken in, though, Dr. Fabella’s paper points out that any gain is cosmetic at best—land reform as it has been pursued in the Philippines has been an utter failure. Even worse, it has left the country with a huge new set of social and economic problems that would not have existed without CARP. Dr. Fabella’s article titled “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP): Time to Let Go” is available through the website of the UP School of Economics, and it is one of the clearest and most reader-friendly treatments of the subject to reach an audience in years. In it, Dr. Fabella stresses two (among many) key flaws of CARP and CARPER that doom the entire land reform program to failure. First, the proscription against a legal market for land assets in Section 27 of the CARP law, and second, the arbitrary five-hectare ceiling on land ownership, which virtually guarantees individual farms will be too small to be profitable. * READ MORE...


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Large hectares of land still undistributed shows CARP failed

MANILA, LAGUNA, JULY 6, 2014 (IBON FOUNDATION) Under the extended CARP, land acquisition and distribution (LAD) balance is still big at 890,671 hectares

As the five-year extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) expires today, research group IBON says its failure is affirmed by the remaining thousands of hectares of Spanish-time haciendas, as well as up to a million hectares being devoted to commercial agriculture ventures.

After 25 years, the group noted that under the extended CARP, land acquisition and distribution (LAD) balance was still big at 890,671 hectares, a huge part of which are private agricultural lands. Some of these undistributed large landholdings include sugar blocks such as the 6,000-hectare Aquino-Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita and the 7,183-hectare Hacienda Roxas in Batangas, the 16,000-hectare Hacienda Reyes in Quezon, as well as other coconut haciendas owned by the Tans, Uys, and Cojuangcos measuring more than 5,000 hectares.

Mostly owned by the country's wealthiest families, joint ventures, sugar block farms and coconut haciendas comprise almost half a million hectares supposedly targeted for compulsary acquisition (CA) but have not been issued notices of coverage (NOC) by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). According to the research group, intact haciendas are the most glaring evidence of the failure of CARP.

IBON also noted that other haciendas have been converted to other uses to evade land reform coverage. Meanwhile, those that have been recorded as distributed are placed under agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) that promote commercial crop production for export. AVAs have resulted from landlords' appropriation of lands to their heirs through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) and Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT) schemes instead of distributing to farmers and workers. AVAs have also reduced agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to being farm workers with insecure incomes and land tenure—carrying on the tradition of haciendas, said the research group.

In the end, CARP has facilitated land reconcentration and allowed landlords not only to evade land distribution but to further use land for their commercial gain, keeping farmers at the losing end. According to IBON, this highlights the need for a land reform program that involves genuine land distribution, government support to stimulate agricultural development, and dismantle centuries-old haciendas, among others. (end) ZOURCE: http://iboninternational.org/

FROM PANAY REGIONAL NEWS BLOG

‘CARP not a failure’ Date posted: July 3, 2014 BY RAYMART ESCOPEL



ILOILO City – The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was a success, insisted Iloilo Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARO) Enrique Paderes.

Those saying CARP was a failure were cause-oriented groups lobbying for House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), he said.

From what he had gathered, Paderes said, GARB pushed for “zero retention” of land, thus akin to the total confiscation of land from the landed.

From the point of view of those who have benefited from CARP, the program was good, said Paderes.

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) records showed that in the province of Iloilo, the issuance of Notice of Coverage for compulsory acquisition of land had been completed.

As of May 31, DAR in Iloilo already distributed a total of 66,866 hectares to 45,150 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), with an average land size of 1.48 hectares per beneficiary.

However, records also revealed that DAR-Iloilo still has a total balance of 16,896 hectares for distribution before 2016.
With that, Paderes said, that there is a need to extend CARP.

“We don’t have the full control of the program. We are only the lead agency but the major inputs towards distribution are also coming from various entities. They have their own protocol, guidelines and systems,” Paderes explained the delay.

He expressed confidence that the remaining hectares would all be distributed.

“With our commitment, additional technical manpower and implementing guidelines on entitled private agricultural lands, we hope to finish the distribution of the remaining balances,” Paderes said.

The extension of CARP expired on Monday, but Paderes said they will still continue with the distribution of land.
This year, DAR targets to distribute a total of 4,959 hectares to some 3,000 ARBs./PN

IS LAND REFORM A FAILURE IN THE PHILIPPINES? AN ASSESSMENT ON CARP Jose Elvinia READ THE COMPLETE ESSAY AT http://ir.nul.nagoya-u.ac.jp/jspui/bitstream/2237/15881/1/10_Jose%20Elvinia_2.pdf

Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries

HISTORICAL ORIGIN AN D THE POLITICS OF LAND REFORM IN THE PHILIPPINES Land issues have a centuries - long history in the Philippines, beginning from the colonial time of Spanish regime in 1500s up to the EDSA 2 revolution period in 1986.

In each period of colonialism and independence , access to and power over land has played a decisive part in political reality. The agrarian issues were decided presumably upon the well - being of farm households and acceptance of
political leadership especially in the midst of rural unrest, despite the fact that e very colonial power and government followed land policies differing in terms of emphasis and prioritization.

Putzel (1992) concluded that in regard to the many regime changes that the country has undergone in the last century, the legislation effortled to the accumulation of a diverse set of land policies, laws, and programs either complementary or opposing to each other .

The succeeding sections impart this fact as it conveys th e origin of agrarian structures, early agrarian reform measures in various political regimes, and the present CARP agenda of the government.

2.1 The Origin of Agrarian Structures

To trace the origins of the Philippine land issue, one has to go back to the time of Spanish colonialism beginning in the 1500s.

It was during this period that land - related system affected the islands for the first time. This was believed to be part of the common strategic outline of almost every colony (Putzel , 1995) . The few reports about preHispanic times suggested that there had been some kind of social stratification and that individual private property of land did not exist (Putzel, 1992: 44).

The first group of people that were able to concentrate a large amount of land in its hands was the Spanish friars (Roth , 1977) . They were beneficiaries of a series of royal land grants from the Spanish Crown .

[FOOTNOTE: EDSA stands for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue , a main highway in Metro Manila and the main site of the demonstrations . The EDSA Revolution , also referred to as the People Power Revolution and the Philippine Revolution of 1986, was a mostly non - violent mass demonstration in the Philippines . Four days of peaceful action by millions of Filipinos in Metro Manila led to the downfall of the authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand Marcos and the installation of Corazon Aquino as president of the Republic.]

In later times, the friars were able to enlarge their properties through lands p asse d to them by way of mortgage claims and outright land grabbing, including donations or purchases from Spanish laymen in the late seventeenth century (Constantino, 1975: 66 – 69).

As a result, the friars came in control vast areas of land on the island of Luzon, especially around the capital of Manila by the end of Spanish colonial time (Roth, 1977: 2).

Another land related system that was utilized by the Spanish Crown in the early times of colonization was the encomienda system.

Encomiendas were distributed to Spanish conquestadores and early settlers . An encomendero was empowered to collect tributes from the natives living in the area of his encomienda but on the other hand had to preserve peace within the territory and defend it for the Spanish Crown against possible perpetrators.

They also had to support clergymen in their missionary work (Constantino, 1975: 45).

However, this encomienda system had already vanished from the islands before the first haciendas emerged, as the late Spanish colonial time gave place to the rise of yet other landed elite consisting of highly educated Chinese mestizos (children of Chinese fathers and Filipino mothers), the relatively small number of Spanish mestizos and descendants of the principalia , and the n atives or Spaniards who had been officials in the early colonial administration such as tribute collectors (Riedinger , 1995) .

In comparison to the Chinese mestizos, the Spanish mestizos were rather small in number. Chinese traders reached the islands due to trading opportunities with the Spaniards. They had soon established themselves in all areas of trade.

As competitors to the Spanish, they often had to endure eviction from the country, which led to a ban on Chinese presence in the islands in 1755 that lasted for almost one hundred years (Putzel, 1992: 45).

The mestizos , who were soon able to accumulate a lot of wealth, filled the gap they left in the area of trade. Being raised by their mothers as Filipinos, the mestizos blended culturally with the natives (Constantino, 1975: 121).

They did not only concentrate in Manila , but also penetrated the countryside and started to establish themselves in rural areas. When the ban on Chinese immigration was lifted and they started to move back in to the country, again taking over their old positions, for the mestizos land as an object for investment became even more interesting and large landholdings and haciendas began to emerge (Constantino , 1975).

Putzel (1992: 49) explains the Spanish colonial period as a time of ongoing land concentration and the cradle of land distribution patterns and tenure systems in the country . These were characterized by peasants being share tenants or land laborers, the latter mostly found in the younger plantations and haciendas devoted to cash crops and established mainly during the time of American administration that followed the Spanish 340 Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries colonial time.

In his arguments, Putzel (1992, 1995) did not emphasize the differences and similarities between land laborers and tenant - farmers within the framework of land reform. The image of 'peasants' described by him suggests both the land laborers and share tenants who were considered to be the landless poor at the time of legislation of various land reform laws.

While at the beginning of the Revolution, the friars‘ estates were already challenged and subject of criticism, because these newly established haciendas remained untackled for many years (Putzel, 1992: 49).

In the end , the se haciendas were found to be most resistant to agrarian reform measures and some of them are still due for redistribution up t o now (Carranza , 2004) .

The most famous example is Hacienda Luisita ( which has a total plantation area of more than 6,000 hectares in Tarlac, Luzon), the landholding of the family of present president Benigno Aquino III, and the sugar landholdings in Negros islands .

The families of the new landed elite who had gained wealth and land throughout the last period of Spanish administration were able to keep and often deepen their economic power including political power for their own interests (Regalado , 2000) .

They are still influencing much of the nation‘s economy, political and social life, owning many of the biggest enterprises of the Philippines (Regalado, 2000: 22).

This justifies on why land reform takes centuries old, as the elites passed on all this 'power' to succeeding generations, a clear manifestation of economic and political dynasty combined.

Land reform became more prominent during the American colonial rule. The introduction of land related laws and programs in this colonial regime unfold the redistributive aspect as introduced by the American rulers. The subsequent various reform measures were more of a representation of polity reality as a republic society and attempts to appease the growing rural unrest and inequitable distribution of land resource.

2.2 Early Agrarian Reform Measures

Agrarian reform first appeared on the agenda of Philippine policy making with the beginning of the American colonial rule. Since the turn of the century , several land related laws and programs were introduced by the American administration , followed by another set of reform laws enacted by the Philippine government after the installation of the Philippine
Republic in 1946.

Most of them were tenancy reforms and land settlement projects trying to address rural unrest rather than pursuing economic or social motives ( Hayami et al . , 1990) .

One of the first land issues to be addressed was the controversy on the friar estates encompassing 166,000 hectares, which were purchased in the first years of American administration and for distribution to 60,000 peasants.

However, due to high amortization fees that small - scale farmers could not afford to pay , these estates were purchased by the landed wealthy elites (Constantino, 1975: 297 - 298).

The Philippine Bill of 1902 introduced a fixed private ownership limit of 16 hectares for individuals and 1 , 024 hectares for corporations. This law intended to prevent the development of large - scale landholdings and haciendas in newly settled areas due to fear of rural unrest and a possible rise of competition to the American agricultural market (Hayami et al ., 1990: 43).

The fact that a landholding comprising of 22,484 hectares could be purchased by the Sugar Trust Company in 1910, eight years after the Philippines Bill of 1902 , despite th e prohibition of landholdings larger than 1 , 024 hectares , shows that it was not completely implemented (Constantino, 1975: 289, 300).

As a consequence , big plantations emerge d even in the Visayas and Mindanao islands . They concentrated on export crop production and were operated by corporations accompanied by a breakdown of the paternalistic structure in tenant - landlord relationship that was found on tradi tional haciendas in Luzon (Hayami et al ., 199 0 : 47).

These developments are still visible in the agri cultural structure today , with commercial farming concentrating on cash crops in the South, in contrast to an agriculture that is marked by small-scale farming and some traditional haciendas in the North (Ibid.) .

The first tenancy reform bill passed by the American administration was the Rice Tenancy Act 4054 of 1933 that provided a 50 by 50 percent sharing arrangement between the tenant and the landowner, a ten percent interest ceiling on loans by the tenants and the prohibition of dismissal of tenants on tenuous grounds.

One of the provisions, however, was that the majority of the municipal council members had to petition for the implementation of the law in their area. This was a great obstacle for the implementation of the law as the municipality council s were controlled by the landlords and could , therefore , prevent the implementation of the program in their municipality (Adriano, 1991: 4).

The Rice Tenancy Act was the first of a row of tenancy reform bills to come with succeeding Commonwealth Act 178 and 461 , Tenancy Act of 1946, and Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954. All of them were intended to ameliorate the poor situation of tenants , for instance with the implementation of 70 percent - 30 percent sharing arrangement in favor of the tenant (Tenancy Act of 1946), reduction of land rentals , and allowing the tenants to shift from share tenancy to leasehold (Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954).

However, 342 Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries just as in the case of the Rice Tenancy Act , they always contained provisions that left loopholes for landowners and made the bills basically ineffective (Constantino and Constantino, 1978: 207, 264).

As a result, share tenancy with sharing arrangements of 50 by 50 percent , or sometimes lower for the tenant, persisted as the major form of land tenure in rural farming. The time from 1900 until 1972, especially prior to World War II, only few agrarian reform attempts provided for a redistribution of lands.


Sugar and the Origins of Modern Philippine Society John A. Larkin UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford © 1993 The Regents of the University of California

The first attempt to redistribute big landholdings , generally beyond special selected haciendas , was the Land Reform Act of 1955 that planned the purchase of lands exceeding 144 hectares.

The landlord - dominated Congress, however, extended the retention limit to 300 hectares for individuals and 600 hectares for corporations. Additionally, the law covered only cont iguous areas larger than 300 hectares , thus exempting many large landowners.

Another loophole was that the majority of tenants within one estate had to petition for redistribution and  given the power relations within haciendas , the landowners could easil y avoid major petitioning (Constantino and Constantino, 1978: 264).

A second law that provided for land redistribution was the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963 that was enacted under President Macapagal.

Landholdings larger than 75 hectares were required to be redistributed to landless tenants in rice and corn producing lands and share tenancy was eliminated (Adriano, 1991: 9).

Although the program was far reaching in comparison to its predecessors, it had been accompanied again with legal loopholes , e.g., the exemption of lands devoted to crops covered by marketing allotments and lands planted with permanent trees, as coconut, cacao, coffee and durian (Constantino and Constantino, 1978: 319).

However, this law was never implemented as Magcapagal‘s term ended after it was enacted and replaced by Presidential Decree (PD) 27 in 1972, the agrarian reform program of the Marcos Administration.

2.3 Land Reform under Marcos Presidency

Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. One month later, Marcos prescribed an agrarian reform program through PD 27. It was the first major attempt of redistributive reform after the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963 failed.

In fact , the Code of 1963 served as the basis in the land reform legislation this time; hence , they shared many similar features . In 1971 , the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was founded , as the main implementing body of both PD 27 and the agrarian reform program, along with local agrarian courts throughout the country (Borras, 2004: 88).

The Marcos agrarian reform program tackled the power of the landed elites in corn and rice areas , but it did not cover the areas devoted to other crops. In fact , many of Marcos supporters were even able to extend their power and gain more lands. The martial law gave them the opportunity to register the lands under their name and establish vast haciendas (Franco , 2005: 127).

The Operation Land Transfer was a conversion from share tenancy to amortizing ownership status for farmers cultivating land belonging to a landowner , whose landholdings exceeded a certain retention limit by receiving a Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) .

The size of awarded parcel of land was 5 hectares for non - irrigated lands and 3 hectares for irrigated lands.

After 15 years of amortization , the beneficiary would receive an Emancipation Patent, which is equivalent to the title of the land (Putzel, 1992: 125).

The landowner was compensated at two and a half times the value of the average value of the three normal crop years preceding the de cree (Putzel, 1992: 124).

The Operation Leasehold is a conversion from share tenancy to leasehold status of farmers cultivating land within the retention limit of the landowner or on land smaller than 7 hectares was another provision . The land was leased to a fixed rent of a maximum of 25 percent of the average harvest for three normal agricultural years previous to the establishment of leaseholder status (Hayami et. al ., 1990: 63).

The retention limit was reduced from 75 hectares to 7 hectares in comparison to the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963 . But , similar to its previous reform laws, the PD 27 was limited to corn and rice producing lands. The decree included tenanted farms , but excluded landless farm workers from being beneficiaries. These two restrictions limited the scope of the PD 27.

Consequently, only 12 percent, or 1.01 million hectares, of the total area of 8.49 million hectares that were cultivated in the country in 1972, were covered by PD 27 (Hayami et al ., 1990: 69).

The landowners had the opportunity to escape the program through either changing the planted crop from rice and corn into another crop , or turning it into non - tenanted holdings by evicting tenants.

[FOOTNOTE: A Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) is a certificate which guarantees ownership of the land of the farmer and which proves that he has started paying the taxes and amortization of the land. Emancipation Patent is the title of land issued to the tenant upon fulfillment of all the requirements of the government. It is a proof of the tiller‘s full emancipation from the bondage of tenancy.]

Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries

Hayami et al . (1990) provides a detailed description on the accomplishment o f the Marcos regime. The reported accomplishments of the Marcos land reform program were high especially for the Operation Leasehold.

By 1987, 100 percent of the targeted area was under leasehold contracts. The achievements of operation land transfer were lower. By 1987, CLTs had been distributed to 314,000 former tenants for an area of 539,000 hectares, which is equivalent to 66 percent of the targeted area.

Emancipation Patents had been distributed for 145,000 hectares, or 18 percent of the targeted area . These data , however , do not give any information on how many of the 314,000 CLT holders were able to amortize their lands and receive an Emancipation Patent.

Numbers on this are difficult to obtain as official reports from 1988 onwards do not distinguish between the
accomplishments of PD 27 and the latest Agrarian Reform Program of 1988. Furthermore, it is to point out that these data only refer to the targeted area but not to the total agricultural lands.

If set in relation to the total amount of cultivated area , the area for which CLTs were distributed would make up only of 6 percent and the area of emancipation patents is less than 2 percent.

With the percentage of accomplished Operation Leasehold added, the area that was affected by the PD 27 until 1988 made up less than 15 percent of the total cultivated area. Despite the limited effects shown in these numbers, the Marcos land reform is still seen to have limited the political power of landlords in rice and corn areas , and can be credited for the establishment of an administrative infrastructure in land reform.

However, as Reyes (2002: 9) concludes that other than limited scope of the reform program, problems in land valuation and landowner‘s resistance proved to be some of the reasons for failure despite the dictatorial leadership of Marcos. This reflected the refusal to accept the reform among landed elite.

Fuwa (2000) summarizes that the historical land reform up to this time was a difficult task to change land tenure systems and land related rural structures.

The early sign of failures can be explained by the political power of landed elites and the dynasty it built in the Philippine politics thereby promoting their vested interests for century . Their economic wealth provided them access to political offices and enacted legislation for their own favor that crippled the implementation .

Landlords used their power to influence the law making process and the implementation of land related policies that are oftentimes unfavorable to the common people . The local power combined with lack of political will by the responsible politicians to withstand this influence , led to the failure of land and tenancy reform attempts which perpetuated poverty and inequality especially in rural areas (Borras et al 2006)

The reform laws contained legal loopholes that gave landlords the opportunity to have their lands be exempted , if not delaying the inclusion, through legal means . This fact gave rise to rural unrest that peaked up at the time of Marcos Th is historical overview shows that there always has been a big gap between the reform laws and the actual situation in the rural areas , as landowners continue to amass vast landholdings while poor people continually lived in dismal state .

The growing social upheaval and discontent in the countryside peaked toward the end of Marcos regime. To address this historic gap, Cory Aquino made land reform as her political slogan to gain the sympathy of depressed rural people during the 1986 presidential election (Wong , 1989).

While it is believed to be a very ambitious reform agenda, her government was able to promulgate and enact a new reform law dubbed as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) as discussed in the next section.

2.4 Land Reform within Agrarian Reform Context: From Aquino Legacy up to Arroyo ’ s Stretch


(Source: economywatch.com) → 2 years ago -
Thursday Aug 25 2011 tags: #agrarian reform

The Marcos land reform program left an estimated number of at least 56 percent of households dependent on agriculture, landless or with little land (Putzel, 1992: 25).

Rural uprising, therefore, played an essential r ole in the 1986 EDSA Revolution, which led to the presidency of Corazon Aquino.

Before her term in office, she had committed herself to making land reform an essential part of her governing period promising to address her own family ‘ s landholding , Hacienda Luisita , one of the first targets (Wong, 1989: 1).

Land-to-the-tiller must become a reality, instead of an empty slogan, was Aquino‘s motto when she set the agenda for land reforms.

A land reform commission was formed, and the CARL, otherwise known as RA 6657, with its implementing program the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was enact ed in 1988.

The total original area to be covered by CARP was 10.3 million hectares, one - third of the country‘s land area of 30 million hectares. A s a result of CARP Scope Validation (refer to Table 1 0 . 1) , the covered area was reduced to 8.169 million hectares to be distributed among the 4.5 million beneficiaries .

This reduction is attributed to the number of exemptions and exclusions on land types (although it wa s rumored that this was another manipulation attempt of the landed elites in the Congress) . Of this total amended area, 4.4 million hectares (54 percent ) falls under the responsibility 346 Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries of DAR and 3.8 million hectares (46 percent) are under the jurisdiction of the DENR being public and forest lands .


The CARL was the product of a legislation process in the Senate and the House of Representatives tha t took more than one year for its formal proclamation and passage; both Houses fought for their own proposal of a land reform law, which reflected their respective composition of representatives and the apathy they have on rural poverty (Wong, 1989) .

The important details of timing, priorities, and minimum legal holdings were determined by Congress in which majority of members were co nnected to landed interests , if not owners of large tracks of farms .

At the time of deliberation of the CARL, the landlord s dominated the House of Representatives and the Senate mainly consisted of urban - based businessmen who regarded agrarian reform essential for the development of the country (Bello, 2004) . The bill proposed by the Senate was quite far reaching. It claimed a retention limit of five hectares and the distribution of large land holdings to be addressed first.

The bill of the House of Representatives reflected the landlord domination in this part of Congress. It contained a
proposed retention limit of seven hectares, plus three hectares for every heir and provided that public lands should be addressed and distributed prior to private lands (Adriano, 1991: 13).

In many ways, the CARL represents a compromise between these two bills and, therefore, reflects the struggle between proreform and antireform forces in the law making process (Adriano, 1991).

It is clear that t he ownership and control over private agricultural lands in the country were largely monopolized by landed classes ; although , only about one - third of these farmlands were reported in official census as privately owned by 1988 (Putzel, 1992).

The lack of control over land resources is believed to be one of the most important causes of persistent poverty in the country. The exploitative agrarian struct ure ha d been the cause and effect of the lop - sided distribution of political power in society and the state (Putzel, 1992 : 30 ).

The same situation provoked periodic peasant upheavals that won only intermittent concessions from the state (Rutten, 2000).

A combination of repression, resettlement, and limited reform ha d been the traditional way through which the elites and the state responded to peasant upheavals (Riedinger, 1995), and so peasant unrest remained an important part of rural politics throughout the twentieth century.

And, as Franco (2001) explains , the transition from an authoritarian regime to a national clientelist electoral regime in 1986 did not lead to complete democratization of the countryside.

After Marcos ‘ martial law, the transition period (1986 – 88) opened new political opportunities for partial
democratization, which led to a heated policy debate on agrarian reform. After initially dragging its feet on the issue, the administration of Corazon Aquino was forced to act after the military opened fire to a 20,000 - strong peasant march near the Presidential Palace, killing 13 peasants ; this subsequently stirred up the highly contested land reform programs in the Philippine polity that resulted in the passage of CARL (Franco , 2001).

It was a bloody transition for the peasants who viewed themselves as victims of injustices for centuries.


Then Batanes Rep Butch Abad was one of the few legislators who walked out in 1988 to protest the efforts of the landlords in Congress to block genuine land reform. In 1990, President Corazon Aquino named him secretary of agrarian reform amid stiff opposition from legislators who thought his vision of land redistribution was too radical.

[FOOTNOTE: 5 At the time of the late President Corazon Aquino, the Commission on Appointments (CA) of the Philippine Congress bypassed the confirmation of then Agrarian Reform Secretary Florencio ̳Butch‘ Abad for being perceived as pro - CARP . The landlords and those with vested interests in Congress were making mockery of the CARP implementation and successful to have his appointment blocked]

When Fidel V. Ramos took over the presidency from Aquino, he supported her land reform program by providing the necessary budget for its continued operations.

In his presidency, he signed into law the extension of CARP implementation until 1998. During this regime and the subsequent administration of Estrada (who stayed in power as president for less than three years only), there were less agrarian related issues .

Rural unrest has gone down as peasants have found their legal way through the CARL induced land reform courts.

Disputes between landowners and peasants are adjudicated in these courts. The DAR (2005) reported that under the agrarian justice component from 1988 to 2004, a total 462,839 cases were filed of which 445,652 were solved. This justice component entails the settlement of cases , which are related to landlord and tenant relationships. It also deals with cases pertaining to land valuation.

From this figure, more than 17,000 cases remain unsolved during the same period (DAR , 2005). This figure shows tremendous legal debacles between government, landlords and peasants, with the latter facing long deprivation of the 'promised' land.

This connotes that in the end, it is the peasants who are sacrificed in the legal delaying tactics . These cases are brought to DAR adjudication board and regular courts. The government is in lock up position given the many adjudication and court proceedings involved and the unyielding attitude of landowners. Obviously, landlords and corporate owners were employing delaying tactics in the inclusion of their farms for immediate implementation.

At the same time, the government is rather preoccupied with rela tively smaller lands for reform inclusion. What is remarkable as far as the policy program of Ramos is the passage of RA 8532 which extended the land reform program for another ten years (1998 - 2008) and the provision of more public funds to support its implementation amounting to PhP 50 billion (US$ 909.09 million).


ESTRADA

As for Estrada ‘ s regime, he initiated the passage of Executive Order 151 that allowed farmers to access long - term capital from the formal lending institutions.

President Gloria Arroyo continued and committed herself in the CARP implementation . Her administration formulated and implemented CARP related programs, i.e. KALAHI ARZone. These zones consisted of one or more municipalities with concentration of ARC population to achieve greater agroproductivity.

One significant observation during Arroyo ‘ s administration is that CARP was supposed to end in 2008, where all targeted lands for distribution would have been accomplished , and the work of agencies concerned this time would be limited to support services by assisting farmers in their farm operations.

Because of bureaucratic slowness, the total percentage of accomplishment was recorded at around 80 percent against the total land for redistribution. Without other alternative, Arroyo and her allies in congress extended the program.

The year 2009 saw the passage of Republic Act 9700, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) Bill. The CARPer Bill provides for additional funding of PhP 150 billion (US$ 300 million) over the next five years .

By 2014, it is projected that the total land distributed by DAR will be 5.166 million hectares of the total to 3 million farmers. This funding figures the costly land reform in the Philippine history.

IS LAND REFORM A FAILURE IN THE PHILIPPINES UNDER CARP?

Having witnessed the historical origin of land issues and every regime ‘ s approach on this, I would like to bring back my question given the various obstacles and political debacles it went through.

Is the policy just a mere platform of political achievement of the various regimes and, yet, it failed to provide a genuine land reform to the landless farmers? Or, the reform is deficient only of the vital components to succeed?

Genuine means a land reform that provides secure and equitable rights to productive land for the rural poor , free of judicial and political maneuver by those with vested interests.

The CARP may not be a complete failure; however, it possessed serious deficiencies to succeed as an agenda on poverty reduction. We have witnessed that we cannot split up the personal interest of landlords from landless poor ‘ s interest in any land reform laws and programs in the country. Land reform has been a polity reality, and the politics played a significant role on the various poli cies and programs in each regime.

It is obviously deficient in many aspects as different reform laws have been debated and passed by legislators with vested interests detrimental to the reform ‘ s success.

Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries

The redistributive nature of CARP is believed to possess some flaws give n its market - based orientation, biased exemptions and exclusions, disputable manner of acquisition and distribution, and the unwarranted cost both for the program administration and acquisition of lands .

These flaws, to some extent, resulted in unsatisfactory outcomes . Issues such as land valuation , 6 payment to landlords and from beneficiaries, and access to support services for improved agricultural production constitute a setback to the greatest achievement of the reform goals.

This problem is compounded by the lack of a more institutionalized support mechanism in the postdistribution stage.

It is believed to be the most ambitious in the history of land reform in the country; I would like to identify s ome issues surrounding this claim. The term 'comprehensive' has never been clearly defined (as also emphasized in Bello 2005) in CARL. The only assumption here is that the reform covers all types of agricultural lands that made it comprehensive (though this was reduced as a result of various exemptions).

Other than this, all land reform laws of various regimes including CARP resemble in many aspects. Believed to be a genuine land reform law, this public policy is not complete and in fact suffers deficiencies. The program has already
taken its political toll. With court cases taking up much time for due process , land - owners have succeeded in stalling CARP , and this even resulted in violent clashes involving landowners, beneficiaries and the military/police .

Land - related violence and problems have politicized further the reform. 8 Let alone the number of legal proceedings in the DAR adjudication board and regular courts proves this conflict and disagreement.

[FOOTNOTE: As provided for under RA 6657, a number of factors have to be considered in computing for land values. These include: cost of acquisiti on of the land; current value of like pro - perties, its nature, actual use and income; sworn valuation by the owner; tax declaration; assessment made by government assessors; social and economic benefits contributed by the farmers; and , non - payment of taxes . 7 Section 4 of CARL provides for the comprehensiveness of the program as it covers those lands, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands, including lands of the public domain suitable for agricu lture. More specifically, the lands covered under the program include: all alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture; all lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits; and, all other lands own ed by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture; and, all private lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can be raised thereon. 8 For details of reported cases, you may check the onli ne Land Research Action Network at http://www.landaction.org/spip/?lang=en]

The CARP basically consists of three key components , namely:

( i ) land tenure improve ment that deals with the acquisition and distribution of lands ;
( ii ) support services which involve the provision of extension services, credit, and infrastructure support, among others , to farmer - beneficiaries of the program ; and ,
( iii ) delivery of agrarian justice which entails the settlement of cases relat ing to landlord - tenant relationship and cases pertaining to land valuation and disputes .

The law stipulate s that landowners have a retention right limit of 5 hectares and the legitimate heirs are also allowed additional 3 hectares each. The law also stipulates that landowner compensation is based on the fair market value of the land and that beneficiaries will initially pay the owners in cash at least 25 percent of the land value , with the balance to
be amortized over 30 years with 6 percent annual interest rate.

In cases where the owner and the beneficiaries could not agree on the land valuation, the government has established a judiciary system to resolve this issue. Such market consideration and lega l alternative favor the landowners obviously.

The flaw of this aspect is the power struggle in price bargaining , defer in immediate inclusion for reform, court system that further delays the implementation, and low re payment among beneficiaries as a consequence of overpriced lands and low level of production output due to limited help and resources available for improving farm operations.

The concession regarding retention limits among landowners also led to dissatisfaction among beneficiaries. The land
limit was too landowner - friendly given the privileges the law affords to them. The policy contains auxiliary components that gave landowners the right to choose which lands to retain ; thus, farmers would be left with marginalized land that would be difficult to manage and make productive.

In other case, agricultural crops are no longer productive and its replanting requires huge investment capital.

This was the case of rubber farms in Mindanao, when I checked the age of rubber trees they were mostly matured and bound for replacement when I visited last 2006 and 2007. Since these are already senile trees, the CARP beneficiaries are in the losing end of their operations from the 1990s period up to now.

This is aggravated by the limited government support for far m operations in the areas of credit, technology, marketing, extension services, among others, and their low level of entrepreneurial abilities in managing the ir own plantations.

All these factors eventually brought them into crisis and the escalation of po verty incidence among ARB households, a true challenge of CARP at that time

Limits of Good Governance in Developing Countries

Coupled with market - based land acquisition, as proposed by the World Bank in its effort to revive land reform, makes the present reform impractical and costly for the beneficiaries. The market - based evaluation of agricultural lands is imperfect , given the single seller/landowner - buyer/ beneficiary relationship. It is a costly land valuation since the true value is not reflected in an imperfect market (the value of senile plantation crop is an example) .

The country adopted a market - oriented land reform that has become a great burden and is viewed as bias in favor to
those who can dictate and mani pulate the land price in the bargaining process , and even contest to the court if it is perceived as unreasonably acquired and negotiated. This cost takes much from the financially strapped government coffer and poor land beneficiaries whose income primarily comes fro m the agricultural land received .

The agrarian reform law also offers a wide range of transfer mechanisms, namely, operation land transfer (OLT) which consists of transferring ownership from landowners to tenant - tillers. Another transfer mechanism is compulsory acquisition (CA), which consists of government expropriating private properties in non - rice and non - corn areas and distributing them to selected beneficiaries. These two arrangements are coercive and executed whether or not landlords cooperate with the program and are paid via a staggered bond cash payment.

The voluntary-offer-to-sell (VOS) scheme consists of landowners surrendering their land to government for valuation and distribution. This is a scheme that intends to encourage landlords‘ cooperation by giving them incentives when they voluntarily cooperate with the program.

The voluntary - land - transfer (VLT) arrangement, also referred to as the direct payment scheme, is a land transaction directly made between landlords and peasants under terms and conditions mutually agreed upon and subject to government ‘s approval . In this case the government‘s role is minimal , and they are expected merely to facilitate the land transaction and subsequent transfer .

While OLT and CA represent coercive methods of land redistribution, VOS and VLT schemes are voluntary. These alternatives put the government in modest position as what mechanism is applicable to a particular land subject for reform.

Since landowners are smart enough to secure their interests, many opted for option that favors them most for the reason that is obvious by now. In fact, these modalities are more popular than the other two. By 2005, 55 percent (1.008 million hectares) of the total combined land (1.874 hectares) distributed under these four mechanisms was made through VOS and VLT methods (DAR , 2005).

When I conducted my fieldwork among rubber plantations in Mindanao, the land beneficiaries revealed that almost all previous corporate owners of rubber farms in the area opted for VOS. This is because almost all standing trees at the time of the reform were old and matured (which means reaching zero level production).

In this modality, former corporate owners determined the market price of lands plus the assessed value of old rubber trees which are expected to produce less latex this time. The situation affected much the capital constraint and poor farmers because replanting is to be done soon which requires huge investment.

For the next 5 to 7 years, their own cooperatives will incur minimal income since this is the waiting period before the new rubber trees will start producing latex. CARP was understood as adhering to the land-to-the-tiller principle.

However, the divergent arrangements it encompassed, including stock transfer and leaseback schemes, violated this very principle. These modalities of land transfer favor the landowners who can persuade the beneficiaries to adopt a scheme that will make them still in control of farms.

The case of Hacienda Luisita is a n example of scheme that favors the landlords more than the farmers. To keep the vast lands intact, the management entered into stock distribution with the farm workers in 1988, a scheme provided in the CARL in redistributing the land. This left the owners the entire right and power to manage and control the farm operations.

In Mindanao islands , where vast commercial plantations exist (banana, pineapple, rubber, etc.), some previous corporate owners still indirectly or directly control the agricultural lands under leaseback scheme and even if the small land is now tilled by the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB s), old landowners manipulate the activities and functions of marketing, production technology, and financial support.

In such case, only in public document shows a change of ownership status of lands , in actual farm operation the beneficiaries remain ed a s tenants or workers. This constitutes unfulfilled promise of land-to-the-tiller as hailed by the CARL framers during Corazon Aquino ‘ s term.

[FOOTNOTE: The rubber plantations I visited for field research last 2006 and 2007 were: United Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries M ultiPurpose Cooperative (UWARBMPC) in Basilan; Sta. Clara Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development Cooperative (SCARBIDC) in Basilan; Latuan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (LAR - BECO) in Basilan; Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiarie s Multi - Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO) in Zamboanga del Sur; and the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of Marcelo Multi - Purpose Cooperatives (ARBEMMCO) in Zamboanga del Norte.]

There are several coordinating bodies in the implementation of the CARP by virtue of RA 6657. The CARL mandates the creation of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) at the national level, Provincial Agrarian Reform Provincial Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM) at the provincial level, and the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (BARC) at the barangay 10 level.

These institutional mechanisms for CARP implementation seem to be ideal considering the broad representation from among the different sectors of society : the government, landowners, farmer - beneficiaries, and the private sector that exist .

However, several issues ha d to be addressed in an institution that is bloated, and coordination is rather hard to achieve.

T his also reflects the bureaucratic style of governance and the lack of accountability as a result of function delineation.
In the end, DAR still assumes the full responsibility of land reform being the lead agency. Yet, other agencies share in the budget utilized for the program implementation.

The four leading government agencies mandated to participate in the land acquisition and distribution proces s are : the Department s of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), and the Land Registration Authority (LRA) .

The total budget for CARP with these agencies administering the implementation is now amounted to PhP 250 billion (US$5 billion), making the reform costly enough for poor resource government. The bulk of the budgetary requirement is for land acquisition and distribution (54 percent) , while the rest is for operational support (25 percent) and program beneficiaries‘ development (21 percent ).

How much money left for support services is a major problem now, despite the recognition that this public - based assistance complements the land asset. This problem is compounded by the fact that in addition to shortage of funds for a more institutionalized support mechanism in the post - distribution phase , CARP implementation has been beset by misplaced priorities and misallocation of resources among line agencies.

Bello (2004) articulates clearly the problems with the administration of the reform in the areas of capacity of agencies concerned, sound budget allocation, and the strategy undertaken throughout the implementation.

With a bloated bureaucracy (DAR with over 15,000 employees and officials nationwide ) , disbursements for operations (especially for employees ‘ salaries ) take a bigger slice of the allotted government budget. This leaves other vital components of the program insufficient of funding. For those awarded with land, the lack of public service s slowed down the farm operations.

[FOOTNOTE: A barangay is the is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village , district or ward .]

The agencies capability to train the 'new' farm owners in farm management, as urgent need to continually manage, is likewise diminished given this resource - based deficiency. In my own assessment from the survey I conducted among ARBs engage in raw rubber plantation, one reason of their struggling performance is caused by their own poor ability to manage the farms since they are more accustomed as salaried farm workers.

Taking over the farm management requires another skil ls and knowledge in which they are less capable with. The government created the Agrarian Reform Communities ( ARCs ) , a cluster of rural communities wherein support services are being channeled to the beneficiaries.

There are now more than 1,600 ARCs all o ver the country. Though this area-focused approach among agrarian communities deserves commendation, it proved to be inadequate.

According to DAR report (2005), roughly half of the total 1,719 ARCs have received assistance necessary in the struggling farm operations , a factor that contributed to the sluggish performance of the agriculture sector in general .

The program is criticized for low rate of amortization from ARBs since 1988 . The collection of amortization payments has been in a dismal state given the 1 8 percent rate.

By 2004 (DAR) , the estimated collectible was PhP 14.3 billion ( US $ 334 . 50 million ) , while the actual amount collected was only PhP 2.5 billion ( US$ 46.52 million ). This would contradict previous claim that income level of ARBs has increased . If indeed beneficiaries‘ income ha s gone up , they could have afforded to pay the land amortization and improved or expanded farm operations .

Again, various studies (see Bravo and Pantoja , 1998; Reyes , 2002; Elvinia , 2008) pointed out the program‘s lack of support services such as credit , market, infrastructure, technology, and beneficiary capability building, which the government ad mitted, as roughly 3 million ARBs out of the total 4 million received support after receiv ing the land.

This resulted in modest performance of farms and justifies on why other ARCs have fairly small incomes.

[FOOTNOTES: T he countries that carried out significant land re form and where the state provided massive direct and indirect support , as well as in pro - poor social policies (e.g. health, education), were able to reduce rural poverty quite dramatically, as in the cases of Japan, Taiwan, China, Cuba, and Kerala (Kay 200 2) .

In order to direct the compensation payment of the expropriated landowners into the industrial sector, land reform legislation in Chile, Iran, South Korea and Taiwan included provisions to use governments bonds for the purchase of shares in public enterprises. In this way, farmers can pay the government over a long period of time, if not partially subsidized (DAR 2006)]

Despite the onset of gender equality on land access, this was never reflected in CARL. I n the face of growing need of land asset among women as beneficiaries, their participation and ownership is very low approximately 23 percent only of the total agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), oftentimes a consequence of succession only (as husband dies or incapable of succeeding) .

In short, it is not in the spirit of the law to include women as beneficiaries, despite their presence and labor contribution in farming. This is believed to be gradually changing due to the growing awareness on gender and development ascribed in the various gender programs implemented in the ARCs.

But such figure is still not even with their male counterpart , and the law must be repealed to reflect this gender equity issue. Given the loopholes and deficiencies, can we conclude that CARP produced the result that was aimed?

Was it easy to transfer/re distribute the lands to the landless? While agrarian relations might have changed, does the reform offer them more relief than difficulties?

The impact of CARP toward the improvement of household income and poverty reduction is a mixture of positive and mo dest outcomes among few studies made (Fuwa , 2000; Reyes , 2002; Olano , 2004).

There are reasons for this incoherent pattern. However, among ARCs with complementary inputs, studies reveal that these were indispensable in maximizing the benefits from agrarian reform. These inputs partially resulted in to higher incomes , especially among land beneficiaries engaged in food crop production such as rice and corn .

But the positive claims of CARP to higher household income are fragmentary and if the data are correct then poverty would have noticeably declined in the countryside. Among plantation commercial crops such as rubber, coconut, sugarcane, banana and other fruit farms , the end results of agrarian reform are rather mixed due to the different modalities of land distribution decided for them .

The impact of CARP in such case cannot be defined and measured as they remained farm workers . An institutionalized supportive system that provides the credit, infrastructure, marketing, managerial skills, and technological needs , as part of land reform services in post - distribution phase , are necessary to help the 'new' farmers.

Although in the post - reform regime , it is more complex as budgetary and administrative capacities remained an issue in helping them . If ever modest funds are available, the government line agencies with CARP mandate share this budget as fund users .

The government now relies mainly on foreign - assisted projects for post - redistribution agrarian development , especially on infrastructure development and far m inputs . When I checked the report of DAR as of 2005, a total of PhP55 billion (US$ 1 billion) foreign assisted projects have been incurred since the implementation of CARP in 1988.

This amount mostly covered the infrastructure demands in the agrarian com munities and usually in a form of ODA loans and grants from bilateral and multilateral donors. In terms of contribution to the DAR‘s ODA portfolio as of December 2005, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation ranked first (33 percent) among donor agencies followed by the Asian Development Bank (24 percent), the World Bank (12 percent), the Government of Spain (12 percent) , the International Fund for Agricultural Development (7 percent), the European Union ( 3 percent ) , the Government of Belgium (3 per cent), and others.

Without this substantial aid, ARCs would be in a dismal state even with the lands they have received. Apparently land reform carries some financial deficiencies to affect its success and in improving the environment of ARBs, a view that concludes agrarian development may not be an easy path after all as perceived to be.

The present President Benigno Aquino III inherited from former President Arroyo the commit ment to finish the land reform tasks and to fulfill the promise of his mother - 'land-to-the-tiller'. There is still a total of 1 million hectares for land distribution targeting 600,000 beneficiaries until 2014.

It is hoped that distribution process will take its way since the government cannot afford anymore of another extension.

The mere fact that CARP has been implemented for over twenty years and has gone through different political debacles and legal maneuver, this makes the land reform in great disbelief. It is a symbol of weak government and tainted political will of leadership .

The challenges and weaknesses of the reform program are so vivid. However, we have to make this reform work to address the serious socio - economic problems facing the agrarian sector of the country.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Land reform programs have been en acted by different regimes for specific reasons, albeit political motive has been the common one. As the objectives of such reform had undergone changes over time based primarily on the socio - political context prevailing in each period, the original intentions of the reform have also been subjected to changes in each political regime.

While the motive of the government in instituting this reform deserves commendation; however, the reform laws have been tainted with vested interest of the landed elite in enacting the law, making the reform implementation difficult and derailed.

The political debacles between peasants and the landlords resulted into turmoil and bloodshed, with the peasants as oftentimes the victims, politicized further the reform. L et alone the high record of adjudication cases and court proceedings related to land reform prove that land distribution is not an easy task.

We have witnessed that we cannot ignore the vested interest of the landed elites in the historical land reform laws and
programs in the country. Land reform has become a polity reality, and the politics played a significant role on the various policies and programs undertaken in each regime more than the true concern of the plight of landless poor people.

The existing land reform law - CARP - is obviously deficient in many aspects which are detrimental to success. In the future, any land related policies therefore must seriously take into account the market - orientation, administrative capacity, budgetary requirement, the modality of land transfer, equity across gender, and the manner of its implementation.

These issues are the causes why CARP is taking a long time. While I opine that the current reform may not be a complete failure; however, its deficiencies and loopholes disrupt the efficient implementation thereby producing discontent and disbelief.

Success stories of ARBs are available, though a thorough evaluation is necessary especially in correlating this to agrarian poverty issue. But this success was only made possible be cause of external help and favorable circumstances.

In the post - land reform regime, supportive institutions and inputs, as part of land reform policy, are vital in making the entire reform work. And this support must be publicly supplied and government initiated.

If the government is lacking of its effort, the reform will fail to deliver the best outcomes that tackle equity consideration and poverty reduction in the long run. Government should therefore provide the necessary resources to the still frail 'new' landowners to be able to adjust in their new role. Only when they become stable and can stand on their own that they can contribute to the other goals of development .

Land reform, after all, does not end in giving lands to the landless. They need public support that will enhance the effectiveness of the reform. We cannot just leave farmers in limbo without the necessary safety nets.

Overall, the program entails serious challenge to succeed as an agenda on poverty reduction of the government in the long run. While modest outcomes have been observed in the current land reform, in the future, however, more and more agricultural households can no longer secure their livelihood from the land. In the post - reform regime, as the case of many developing countries now, land reform may have not probably solved all the social, political and economic issues embedded in the development agenda; however, it is still a crucial ingredient in improving the well being of poor rural people. After all, rural is still dominated by agriculture, and its progress within the framework of agrarian development benefits local poor people and tackles poverty in the long run. [THE ARTICLE IS PART OF CHAPTER 10 OF JOSE ELVINIA'S ESSAY PUBLISHED IN 2011].


FROM THE INTERNATIONAL BLOG
SOURCE:http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/15/18757412.php

Philippine agrarian reform: Powerful law, ineffectual bureaucracy by Walden Bello Sunday Jun 15th, 2014 2:58 AM

When the original CARP program that was passed under President Corazon Aquino was in danger of unraveling, the peasant movement came together and pushed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms, or CARPER, through Congress in 2009.

That historic effort was recalled by the over 900 participants at the Agrarian Reform Congress held at the University of the Philippines last Friday, June 6. Among the high points remembered were the 1,700-kilometer march for agrarian justice by 55 farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon, to Malacañang, a now legendary feat that took place over two months in 2007. Also remembered were key figures in the fight for CARPER who have passed away, like Congressman Oscar Francisco, agrarian reform advocate Steve Quiambao, and the Sumilao peasant leader Rene Penas, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet a few weeks after the passage of CARPER.

The victory of CARPER was remarkable given the fact that it took place during a distinctly non-revolutionary period, when the reigning intellectual and political climate had become less sympathetic to social justice concerns and more biased toward so-called market approaches to agrarian problems.

Powerful law…

CARPER was not a perfect agrarian reform law if what is meant by perfect is a law that would redistribute land with no or little compensation to landlords. Yet it was a powerful law that even some left-wing skeptics acknowledged as having tough provisions. To cite just a few:

* CARPER outlawed the “voluntary land transfer” scheme, which had been used by landlords to retain control of land via the “Stock Distribution Option,” as a method of land redistribution; created a P150 billion budget for land acquisition and for support services over five years; established the indefeasibility or non-revocation of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Emancipation Patents (EPs); provided for the immunity of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from temporary restraining orders or injunctions in the implementation of the agrarian reform program; and made irrigated and irrigable lands non-negotiable for any land conversion.

CARPER also institutionalized a land acquisition and distribution schedule that put the priority on distributing bigger landholdings; enshrined the right of rural women to own and control land, invoking the substantive equality between men and women as qualified beneficiaries; provided for access to socialized credit for all agrarian reform beneficiaries; and specified penal provisions, including the filing of criminal cases against landowners for delaying agrarian reform implementation, against DAR for delay in land acquisition and distribution, and against landlords for undue delay in attesting to the qualification of tenants and regular farm workers as beneficiaries.

Ineffectual bureaucracy

The tragedy of CARPER was that it was a powerful mechanism in the hands of an ineffectual bureaucracy led by an irresolute and timid agency head. The measure of DAR’s failure is that, as admitted by Secretary of Agrarian Reform Virgilio de los Reyes, by the time of the CARPER-mandated deadline for land acquisition and distribution of June 30, 2014, over 550,000 hectares of “carpable” land—mainly private land–will remain undistributed.

De los Reyes has claimed that the failure to meet the deadline stems from “technical problems,” like the “lack of a central date base,” inaccurate land surveys, or unclear land titles. The reality is that the problem is landlord resistance and the DAR’s lack of political will or courage to face it down. The DAR’s failure becomes even more stark when compared to the land reforms in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, which were completed with legal instruments that were, on paper, less powerful than CARPER but were carried out by motivated, resolute agencies.

CARPER’s implementation could undoubtedly have benefited from a stronger push by the president, and many have faulted the chief executive in this regard. But even if one were to grant this, we also know that the president’s style is decentralized, that is, to give maximum leeway to his agency heads to execute their legal mandates. Given a powerful law like CARPER, a bolder and more innovative agency head could have made a difference—a big difference.

Precarious period ahead

The land reform struggle is now entering a very precarious period, and circumstances demand a determined, resolute, and courageous secretary of agrarian reform, one who is not a technocrat but a political leader who will not be afraid to do battle with the landlords.

What are these circumstances?

First of all, as de los Reyes admitted during the budget hearings last year, the bulk of the undistributed land—some 450,000—is private land, in fact, the best lands in the country. These lands are in the heart of landlord country, in the Western Visayas and Mindanao, and the ability of the DAR to distribute them, as de los Reyes admitted, will be the acid test of agrarian reform.

Second, landlords have mounted a judicial counteroffensive to delay the land distribution process. In many parts of the country, more and more cases of revocation of Certificates of Land Transfer (CLOAs) are occurring, the most publicized of which are in Quezon. Indeed, there was a 4.6% increase in the number of cases filed at the Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board between 2012 and 2013. This legal counterattack is likely to intensify as land reform finally focuses on the most productive private lands throughout the country. As I noted in a previous column on agrarian reform, “the struggle over Hacienda Luisita case is not the climax of agrarian reform. The tenacity with which the Cojuangcos held on to the plantation might simply presage the intensity of the coming battle in the Visayas and Mindanao, where big landed families will use every legal loophole to retain effective control of their lands.”

Third, while they will exploit every legal loophole, many recalcitrant landlords will, as a last resort, have recourse to violence. The recent assassinations of peasant leaders Melon Barciao in Porac, Pampanga, and Elisa Tulid in the Bondoc Peninsula serve as a jarring reminder of this reality of the class struggle in the countryside.

Whatever strategy the agrarian reform movement adopts to complete the agrarian reform process, it will be important to have a skilled, determined, and courageous champion of agrarian reform, not a timid bureaucrat, at the helm of DAR. Here, President Aquino must be reminded that his agrarian legacy is, to a great extent, in the hands of his land reform lieutenant. Will that legacy be a rural Philippines on the way to prosperity and greater equity, or will it be a countryside marked by even greater poverty and injustice? With just two years to go before the end of his term, President Aquino holds the answer in his own hands.

2 clashing visions of the agrarian future

Yet having an effective agency head is only part of the solution. A strong peasant movement, such as the one that pushed CARPER through is the other part. For the nation is at a conjuncture today where the opponents of land reform are not only mounting legal and physical resistance. They are also now promoting ideological resistance, the most notorious example of which is the so-called “Fabella paper,” authored by former dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics Raul Fabella, which distorted empirical data and utilized narrow theoretical assumptions to try to make a case that land reform is useless in terms of lifting farmers from poverty. Fabella’s lecture tour, along with a handsome honorarium, is being financed by the Ayalas.

The reason for the ideological offensive against land reform is not hard to discern. Big business groups like the Ayalas are moving into the countryside, buying up traditional landlords or making common cause with them to transform the countryside into a domain of large-scale industrial agriculture and real estate development, where small farmers have been marginalized and converted into a surplus population that is maintained to keep the wages of rural workers low.

This is the future that corporate capital holds for farmers and peasants. The only way that this dystopia can be avoided is bringing to a swift conclusion the process of agrarian reform, which will serve as the foundation of a countryside cultivated largely by prosperous small farmers that serve as base to sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, as they did in Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan. And the key to this process is a strong, unified peasant movement. Resurrecting that movement not only to deepen the process of agrarian reform but to create as well the agricultural breadbasket for a prosperous Philippines is the strategic challenge before us.

*Representative of Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the Philippine House of Representatives. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walden-Bello/22844637091


FROM FOCUSWEB.ORG

Biggest Landless Farmers’ Caucus Calls for Completion of Agrarian Reform in Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines, 11 June 2014 -- Fresh from renewing their unities and collectively expressing dismay at the government’s inability to seriously implement and complete agrarian reform, 200 farmers and allied organizations under the People’s Agrarian Reform Congress (PARC) once gain made a show of force at the Department of Agrarian Reform on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and on the eve of the country’s independence day.

The group gathered at DAR to protest not to celebrate the occasion, and to urge President Benigno Aquino III to act decisively for the continuation and completion of the nationwide land reform effort.

What was just an event last June 6, which gathered 900 participants from both rural and urban areas, the PARC is now developing into the biggest and broadest coalition of advocates of agrarian reform aiming to manifest to the Aquino administration that agrarian reform is a key item in the national development and social reform agenda and an area of governance that merits his direct intervention and leadership.

The groups stressed that President Aquino cannot afford to stand on the sidelines on this issue. “His social contract with the Filipino people calls on him to wield much political and economic will needed to see the program through”, said the groups.

* “We have walked from our farms in Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon not only to expose the slow-paced implementation of the program but also demand the stopping of attacks on peasants through various forms of harassments and violence perpetrated by former landlords,” said Jansept Geronimo of Kilusan para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo and Katarungang Panlipunan (KATARUNGAN) and co-convenor of the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance.

“We call on President Aquino to ensure the passage of the House Bill 4592 and Senate Bill 1288 that aim to guarantee the completion of land distribution and coverage beyond June 30, 2014.”, said Rene Cerilla of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA).

“Land distribution under the Aquino administration has been executed at a snail’s pace, and marked by a consistent failure to meet annual distribution targets, chronic underperformance and lack of political commitment manifested by the present Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under Sec. Virgilio delos Reyes. According to DAR’s own figures, of the total 710,000 hectares of lands originally targeted for distribution between July 2010 and June 2013, only 360,464 hectares or 51 percent of the annual targets have been distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries,” stressed the groups present at the June 6 event.

“We note, however, that this official figure is an understatement, given that numerous areas have been arbitrarily removed from DAR’s targets, exempted from redistribution, or left out from the CARP balance altogether. There is, furthermore, no way to validate DAR’s official data, given that the agency has consistently failed to provide the details behind its aggregated figures for the open assessment of the public,” the groups said of the DAR’s dismal performance.

Among the various demands voiced by the farmers’ groups were:

Extend the land distribution component of CARP beyond June 30, 2014, either through legislation or the release of an executive directive by President Aquino. DAR should should publicly disclose the true, complete, and detailed status of the implementation of CARP, including all stages of the land transfer component, the provision of support services, and financial transactions. Provide extensive and accelerated support services, undertake capacity building, localized extension, etc., to farmer-beneficiaries. Constitute a high level independent commission with legal powers to evaluate and audit the performance of CARP, investigate all circumventions of coverage, and human rights violations

Similarly, the groups emphasized that despite the flawed implementation of R.A. 9700 (the CARP Extension with Reforms/CARPER Act) under the present administration, the passage of the law in 2009 represented a significant victory of the peasant movement against the landed elite.

The farmers' groups and agrarian reform advocates at the Congress also underscored the importance of a stronger unity among groups across the nation for rural development.

“Now more than ever, we must come together and find inspiration from our previous victories,” the broad peasant movement said.

“We must transform our collective rage over the weakness of administrations past and present into a strong unified force,” the groups said.

The Peoples’ Agrarian Reform Congress was organized by twenty-eight organizations, representing farmers, labor, women, youth, academe, business, civil society organizations, the Catholic church, human rights and social justice advocates.#

The peasant federations invited to the People's Agrarian Reform Congress include:

Aniban ng mga Manggawa sa Agrikultura
AMMMA-Katipunan
DAMMBA Federation of Free Farmers
KATARUNGAN Makabayan-Pilipinas Nagkakaisang Magsasaka sa Gitnang Luzon
NAPC Farmers, Landless, and Rural Workers Council
Paragos-Pilipinas
PAKISAMA
PESANTE
PKKK
PKMM
PKMP
PKSK
Samahang 53 Ektarya ng Macabud, Rizal
Task Force Mapalad
UNORKA

http://focusweb.org/issues
 


EARLIER NEWS FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino assures farmers gov’t will complete CARP
By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer7:42 pm | Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


President Benigo S. Aquino III


MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III met with a select group of farmers on Tuesday, assuring them that his administration has always been and would remain to be “committed” to distributing lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the end of his term in 2016.

The meeting was apparently meant to allay fears that land distribution under CARP—a centerpiece program of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino—would remain unfinished even after the term of the second Aquino to become president.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday Mr. Aquino had a “very good discussion” with the farmers’ representatives, who included Armanda Jarilla of Task Force Mapalad and Maribel Luzara of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bundok Peninsula.

“He’s committed to the full implementation of the CARP. So, he’s committed to the full implementation of land acquisition and land distribution until 2016,” Lacierda said in a press briefing.

In the meeting, Lacierda said the President briefed the group about the remaining hectares of land that still had to be issued notices of coverage (NOCs) by the Department of Agrarian Reform.

NOCs need to be issued before the DAR could proceed with land acquisition and distribution.

But the President also made it clear that landholdings still caught in legal disputes would have to be settled through judicial processes, not by the executive branch, his spokesperson said.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes earlier admitted that the government could only acquire and distribute between 500,000 and 700,000 hectares of land by 2016.

* As of December 2013, the government still had to distribute 790,648 hectares covered by CARP, which will expire by the end of the month.

“You’re going through varying degrees of hectarage and private ownership. And you would certainly expect some issues, concerns when it comes to implementation especially if you would place private lands under CARP,” Lacierda said.

“The DAR, under the leadership of Secretary Gil Delos Reyes, will pursue and continue to issue those notices of coverage on or before June 30.”

The President earlier certified as urgent a House bill extending the issuance of NOCs until 2016. Lacierda said the Palace was still awaiting the committee report on a counterpart bill at the Senate.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas earlier assailed CARP, saying it “has intensified landlessness among farmers and paved the way for continuous landgrabbing across the country by big local and foreign agribusinesses, agricultural transnational corporations and real estate giants.”

DAR: 78,000 hectares not yet covered by land reform By DJ Yap |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:10 pm | Saturday, June 28th, 2014


A farm worker carries harvested sugarcane at Hacienda Luisita. E.I. REYMOND OREJAS/ INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—With only three days left before the lapse of the already extended land reform law, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said Saturday 8,410 landholdings involving a total of 78,303 hectares of land have yet to be distributed.

These are private agricultural landholdings that, although qualified under the law for redistribution to landless farmers, have not been issued formal notices of coverage or NOCs, which would allow the Department of Agrarian Reform to acquire and parcel them out to landless farmers beyond the June 30 deadline.

But De Los Reyes noted in an interview by telephone and e-mail that NOCs for half of these landholdings have actually been sent out although his agency has not received confirmation they were received by the landowners. The NOCs have also not yet been published.

The DAR publishes NOCs in general-circulation newspapers when the landowners refuse to receive the NOCs delivered to them, or when the NOCs are received by persons other than the landowners, or if the owners’ addresses are unknown or vague.

The agency has sent out notices for much of the 78,303 hectares of land, except for 32,360 hectares that are still in the process of preparation.

* Most of these are small landholdings 10 hectares and below because “we want the field to concentrate on the larger landholdings,” De Los Reyes said. “For the rest, NOCs have been prepared and are awaiting delivery or publication or confirmation of delivery.”

Excluding the figures for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, only 7,828 landholdings accounting for over 70,094 hectares have not been “issued” NOCs, as of June 25, De Los Reyes said.

The DAR does not consider an NOC as having been formally “issued” unless the landowner has acknowledged receipt of it or, failing that, the DAR has published the notice in a general-circulation newspaper.

De los Reyes dismissed fears that the government would be unable to cover and distribute agricultural lands beyond the June 30 deadline.

De los Reyes said previously that land acquisition and redistribution could continue beyond June 30 for as long as these landholdings had been properly issued notices of coverage before the deadline.

In Saturday’s interview, De los Reyes claimed that Congress could still pass the bill extending the period the DAR is authorized to serve NOCs to distributable landholdings, allowing the agency to continue acquiring and distributing these.

“There’s no law saying that the period for the issuance of NOCs could no longer be extended after June 30. Congress can still pass the bill once it resumes sessions,” De Los Reyes said.

He said some quarters were trying to alarm the public by claiming that the DAR would basically be toothless after the deadline.

One of those groups, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said on Saturday it was time for De Los Reyes to pack his bags.

“The bogus CARP’s days are numbered. The Filipino peasantry will never mourn its death because it is a total failure,” KMP chair Rafael Mariano said in a statement.

The KMP maintained that according to the law, “the entire CARP, including its fake land acquisition and distribution component will end on June 30, 2014.”

“After June 30, De Los Reyes will be running the DAR under the guise of extending so-called support services and promoting block farming schemes in service of big landlords. We advise Secretary De Los Reyes to pack his things up,” Mariano said.

De Los Reyes has attributed the slowness of the distribution process to a number of factors, including “complications” in the DAR’s database, bureaucracy, missing land titles, incomplete addresses, incorrect classification of the land, and so on.
He said he would release a more comprehensive report in a few days.

“I wish I had a PCOS-like machine that can give me real time [information], but I do not,” he said, referring to the precinct count optical scan machines used in the last national elections.

De Los Reyes said he had asked all DAR personnel to concentrate on the service and publication of NOCs rather than on reporting to the central office.

“I know this is needed for transparency, I am not trying to hide this data, but I must make choices on priorities of engagement of our overworked bureaucracy (in many areas),” he said.

In June 1988, the government of then President Corazon Aquino enacted the CARP through Republic Act 6657 seeking a more equitable distribution of agricultural lands to farmers and farm workers.

Subsequent amendments in Congress extended it until 2014.

But due to concerns about the DAR’s low land distribution output, a bill was filed in Congress to extend the period for the issuance of NOCs.

FROM INTERAKSYON ONLINE

As CARP expires, what is best option for Luisita farmers? DAR bats for sugar block farming By: Philippines News Agency June 22, 2014 11:07 AM InterAksyon.com- The online news portal of TV5


Sugarcane workers in Hacienda Luisita. FILE PHOTO BY BERNARD TESTA


MANILA -- Great opportunities await farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) unveiled various options each of them could avail. One option is the tested sugar block farming concept.

So far, the DAR has already installed some 5,990 farmer beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita or 96.43 percent of 6,212 qualified beneficiaries.

DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Rosalina Bistoyong said the sugar block farming program works best for the interest of the farmers as it envisions to get them work together for the greater good of all, while maintaining individual ownership of their newly acquired farm lots, each covering 6,600 square meters.

Bistoyong said each sugar cane block farm consists of 30-60 hectares of sugar land to be managed as one block, such that activities in the small individual farms are aligned and implemented according to the plans of the whole block.

DAR Secretary Gil de los Reyes said the block farming program can enhance the farmers’ social capital, which is vital in gaining greater bargaining power in various business dealings, be they for financial transactions with banks or for farm inputs/outputs trading business, since they are dealing as an organization rather than as individuals.

De los Reyes said a strongly organized and credible farmers’ organization has greater chances of transacting business with banking institutions, which prefer to deal with a farmers’ organization rather than with individual farmers since they have only a set of officers representing the whole association to deal with.

* He noted that a farmers’ organization also enjoys greater bargaining power when dealing with traders, either for farm inputs or outputs.

"When buying farm inputs, a farmers’ organization can ask big discounts compared to them dealing separately for their individual needs. The same thing can be said when selling their farm outputs as a group. They can command better price because they are capable of meeting the volume requirement of a trading firm," the DAR chief said.

The block farming program, a concept jointly developed by the DAR, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), is said to increase sugar production from 99 to 147 bags of sugar per hectare.

Besides enhancing farm productivity, Bistoyong said the farming program also offers a host of other support services, with DAR providing farm implements, the DA constructing or rehabilitating irrigation facilities and farm-to-mill road, while the SRA extending technical assistance to farmers’ organization to enhance productivity.

Bistoyong said that farmer beneficiaries, who prefer to work individually, could avail themselves of other technical assistance for diversified cropping, vegetable production, and cattle-raising in coordination with the National Dairy Authority.

MANILA TIMES COMMENTARY

Let CARP die its well-deserved death March 7, 2014 10:22 pm BY Ben D. Kritz


Ben D. Kritz

The topic has not received that much attention in the past couple of years, but when the Philippines’ quarter-century experiment with land reform finally ends this coming June, it will have achieved an outwardly remarkable feat, as University of the Philippines Professor of Economics Raul V. Fabella explained in a paper published last month.

By the expiration date of Republic Act 9700—the CARP Extension with Reform, or CARPER, which extended the original Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657) of 1988—5.05 million hectares of the 5.37 million hectares targeted by the program will have been distributed, ostensibly accounting for 2.6 million new agricultural landowners with an average of 1.2 hectares each.

The figures represent an astonishing 16 percent of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares, a program that dwarfs in size and duration the much-heralded land reform programs in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

It is worthwhile to point out these achievements now, because they will undoubtedly be part of the litany of self-congratulations of President B.S. Aquino 3rd in his State of the Nation Address shortly after the book is closed on CARPER.

Lest anyone be taken in, though, Dr. Fabella’s paper points out that any gain is cosmetic at best—land reform as it has been pursued in the Philippines has been an utter failure. Even worse, it has left the country with a huge new set of social and economic problems that would not have existed without CARP.

Dr. Fabella’s article titled “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP): Time to Let Go” is available through the website of the UP School of Economics, and it is one of the clearest and most reader-friendly treatments of the subject to reach an audience in years. In it, Dr. Fabella stresses two (among many) key flaws of CARP and CARPER that doom the entire land reform program to failure.

First, the proscription against a legal market for land assets in Section 27 of the CARP law, and second, the arbitrary five-hectare ceiling on land ownership, which virtually guarantees individual farms will be too small to be profitable.

* The paper explains how making transfers (through sale, lease, or other means) of CARP-distributed land illegal until the land is fully-paid runs counter to an economic principle called the Coase Theorem.

Contrived by Nobel Prize Winner Ronald Coase, the theorem essentially says that an initial transfer of an asset (such as a parcel of land) does not sacrifice economic efficiency for social and economic equity so long as the asset can voluntarily be transferred again by the recipient.

To paraphrase the example provided by Dr. Fabella, if rich farmer Pedro is compelled to transfer his land to poor farmer Juan, equity is served but economic efficiency is not (that is, society loses overall) if Juan is incapable of being as productive as Pedro.

The inefficiency is corrected, however, if Juan is able to transfer his land—leasing or selling it back to the more productive Pedro, or to someone else. Juan is then able to earn a higher return for his asset, thus satisfying economic efficiency for his own sake (which, at the individual level, is the equivalent of asset equity), and also maintaining or even improving economic efficiency for society overall.

The restrictions on the scale of land holdings also works against farmers; total land retention is limited to five hectares, but the stipulation of the land reform laws placed a limit of three hectares on land awards, with actual awards being much smaller in practice.

There are two problems here:

First, the physical size of land parcels is below the minimum needed for credit-worthy productivity; knowing that a small plot of rice land is physically incapable of producing a profitable crop, banks and other formal credit sources regard it as unacceptable collateral.

Second, the restrictions on land retention, both in terms of the allowable size and in beneficiaries’ legal inability to transfer the assets, further discourage lenders from offering credit support to land reform beneficiaries.

What has happened as a result is that the informal economy has stepped in to fill the legally-imposed gaps. Land reform beneficiaries are able to access informal credit, but at exploitative rates, even as high as the approximate cost of tenancy, which is around 70 percent. Likewise, an entire illegal land market has developed in spite of CARP’s restrictions, with all the problems of lack of transaction security and creeping lawlessness accompanying it.

Between the illogical and doomed-to-fail design of the Philippines’ land reform model and the exploitation of the informal economy, land reform beneficiaries must subject themselves to a survival strategy.

An entire new class of underprivileged citizens has been created, according to Dr. Fabella: the “landed poor.” And basic economic indicators confirm this: Poverty rates as high as 54 percent in land-reform areas, dismal, sub-20 percent repayment rates to the government from land recipients, and a proportion of land given up by its recipients—whether through the illegal market or simply through abandonment—that ranges from 20 percent to over 50 percent in different parts of the country.

The concern now, with the imminent end of CARPER, is that the shallow success of the program in terms of simply “distributing nearly all the land that was supposed to be distributed” will be used as justification for some new version of the land reform program—CARPERER, maybe, as Dr. Fabella wryly suggests, or perhaps CARPEST.

That, quite obviously, should not be allowed to happen. Whether it does or not, the recommendations of Dr. Fabella should be carefully considered and implemented as soon as possible: abolishing the restrictions on land transfers; raising the ceiling on land holdings to at least the productive area for different crops; and encouraging agro-industrial development by allowing legitimate enterprises (such as those listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange) to own and develop unlimited land areas for agricultural production. Socially-oriented asset equity is admirable, and in most cases, is probably morally right.

But unless it also raises the standards of the recipients—and by extension, the country’s economy as a whole—it is probably worse than doing nothing at all.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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