DUCKY PAREDES: WHAT LAND REFORM?
 

MANILA, JUNE 12, 2012 (MALAYA) Written by DUCKY PAREDES -  ‘Land reform that has succeeded in other countries because the government goes out of its way to make sure that the land continues to produce.’

WHAT is the role of agriculture in any country? What are we supposed to do with agricultural land? Isn’t it obvious that our country’s agricultural land is supposed to mainly produce food for us Filipinos?

Well, the way that we’re going, we may all have forgotten what the role of agricultural land ought to be in our economy. Otherwise, if we knew that we could not be cutting up large landholdings into smaller parcels and giving these out to those who have no resources to produce anything from the one hectare plots more or less. What the government gives them is a piece of paper -- the Certificate Of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) that says that this particular piece of land is now theirs to own. the government takes the land away from the landowner who has the money, resources, equipment and expertise to make the land productive and gives this to those who have neither money, equipment or the experience to make the land productive. It seems clear to me that this is the wrong way to go. Without the applications of money or resources, how will this piece of land produce anything of value?

What is the use of agricultural land if the land is not applied to its best use?

If we are serious about doing anything to move this country forward, why are we giving away productive land (whose best use is for the production of our food) to those who do not have the means to make the land productive?

Do Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle and the 29 other bishops know what they are doing? They want to force President Benigno Aquino to heed the so-called “farmers “demanding completion of the agrarian reform program launched 24 years ago by his mother, Cory, before it expires in 2014.

What will happen to our agricultural production if these plots are all given to those who are unable (and who are even disinclined) to put their plots into production?

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Land reform that has succeeded in other countries does not stop at issuing pieces of papers such as CLOAs to its beneficiaries. Instead, the government goes out of its way to make sure that the land continues to produce. Here, what we see is that land that was producing essentially becomes less productive after it is transferred to those who have neither the resources nor the capability (and in some cases, lacking even the inclination) to make the land more productive.

What could actually be wrong with out land reform program is that it was conceived in the minds of absentee landowners to most of whom the most important part of a held piece of land is the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT). This is something against which one can borrow money from a bank when used as collateral for a loan. It can also be sold or become the document that one uses when leasing out the land.

In fact, for some, the TCT is more important than the land itself.

Yet, as a country, more than anything else (social justice, taking care of the landless, etc.), we need agricultural production. We are now already too reliant on other countries for our food even as we actually have fertile land and natural resources that make agricultural production a natural activity for our Philippines farms.

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The present land reform program makes our country poorer. In Taiwan, both the landowner and the land reform awardee profited. The landowner was given preference in government companies and government holdings properties they were interested in taking over. The awardees were given all the help they needed to make the land productive. Thus, land reform in Taiwan was a great success -- a win-win situation,

Under the Philippine Lad Reform Program, both the landowner and the land reform awardee (beneficiary) are losers. Most landowners have not yet been paid, more than a decade after giving up their lands. Sure, they are given a piece of paper that eventually can be brought to the Landbank for the payment for their land. So, when will this happen? No one really knows. They are only told that the whole thing is still under process, as it has been all along --for the last ten years!

For the awardee, having their hectare of so of land in their name is little consolation since they can do nothing with the land. They have nothing -- no funds, no farm equipment, no planting materials, no fertilizers and no way of getting their produce from farm to market.

Isn’t it clear that without these necessities, the awardee can do nothing with his small plot or anything that would allow him some production?

If many farms are being converted into subdivisions, do not blame the farmers. The land reform program (awful as it is for everyone) has served to discourage farmers from farming. Their actual ownership of the farm has become next to worthless.

The better use of agricultural land has become eventually selling it to a developer who will turn it into a subdivision.

I have no agricultural land myself. And I do not envy those who do, either as landowner or Land Reform Awardee (LRA). What is the use of owning something whose best use is to rid one’s self of it by selling it to someone who will build houses on the property?

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From a reader in Florida, we have this reaction to a recent column: “What is needed is the airline passenger bill of rights. Here in the US, the passengers have certain rights and guarantees that if delayed for over a certain period of time, the passenger has to be compensated. There are other rights too that require compensation if violated. If the mistakes cost the airlines real money, they will be more responsive to the complaints and heavy fines will prevent them from acting with impunity.”

When I was in the US, several times, as I moved around, my luggage did not arrive with my plane. Since no other aircraft was arriving within an allotted time. I was given funds to purchase a set of clothes (a jacket, shirt. pants, underwear, etc.) so that I could go about whatever I would be doing the next day.

Eventually, my luggage would also be delivered, No hassle at all for me. Airline personnel were also always accommodating and apologetic -- far cry from the Philippine experience.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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