A Status on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
Atone School of Government Master in Public Management Public Governance and the Bureaucracy The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program: Addressing poverty from the Ground up Introduction Even before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the 1 sass, lands in the Philippines have always been controlled by a few of families. The Dates and Sultans ruled over massive areas of lands, as power social status was dictated by the size of the land one owned and the number of slaves who worked on them. The arrival of the Spaniards set the formalization of a feudalistic management of these lands.
Large Haciendas were established and control of these lands were given to the Spanish colonizers and the Filipino families who pledged their allegiance to the Spanish. Until the sass, the small Filipino farmers barely had any rights to the ownership and control of these lands. During the time of President Corcoran Aquinas, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) was passed through Republic Act 6657 in 1988.
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Its primary purpose was the proper implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), moving the agriculture program away from feudalism towards modern industrialization and at the same time rumoring social Justice.
During the time of President Gloria Arroyo, Executive Order 456 was passed to further expand the Agrarian Reform implementation in order to strengthen the economic and social impact of this reform to its target beneficiaries. 1 The Problem The implementation of the CARP never went smoothly. The redistribution of the land and the securing of land rights were the primary problems faced by those implementing the program. The large haciendas argued that the economic impact of the program would gravely affect the existing businesses within he lands, making it less viable for growth and http://www. Economically. Mom/agrarian/law/comprehensive. HTML Page 12 improvement. There are also socio-political consequences that will arise with the distribution of the lands to the farmers. With the distribution of the land being the main issue of the CARP, several proposals were presented by both parties – the land owners and land beneficiaries, towards reaching an amenable solution. Some of the more popular terms are Stock-Distribution Options (Sods) and Corporative Join- problems of Negroes island, one of the major areas in the country where the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program has not been very successful.
Negroes Island at a Glance The island of Negroes may be considered as one of the hotshots with regards to agrarian reform issues. The island is home to numerous haciendas, with land areas ranging from the low hundreds to thousands of hectares, all of which are owned by only a few families. Some of the more famous land owners from the island are Adding Conjunct who also has claims in the infamous Hacienda Lawsuit of Central Luzon, and the family of former Senator Rene Espies who owns the Polo plantation located primarily in Tanya.
As early as the late sass, right after the signing of the CARL, some of the Negroes haciendas attempted to comply with the agrarian reform program. Land owners awarded multiple Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (COOL) and Emancipation Patents (PEP) to the land beneficiaries. It was also at this time that Stock-Distribution Options (SOD) were granted by other land owners. More than 20 years later, the agrarian reform situation in Negroes has barely changed – it is even claimed by the land beneficiaries that some of them are worse now than they were before the implementation of the CARP.
Farmers from the Polo plantations of Tanya have been fighting for their ownership rights over lands which were (are) still owned by the Sapiens. According to several news reports, numerous Colas of the land beneficiaries were cancelled by the CARP due to loopholes in the law. Areas of the Polo plantations, which were placed under an economic Page 13 zone status were said to be exempt from the CARP, thus disallowing the distribution of these lands to the beneficiaries. The sugar plantations of the Conjuncts, on the other hand, were barely touched and even expanded over the years.
Just like the Hacienda Lawsuit farmers, the land beneficiaries of the Negroes sugar plantation were offered Sods instead of the land itself. It has been argued by many stakeholders that the Sods benefited the land owner more than the farmers themselves. There are also incidences of violence in the haciendas of Negroes. Hacienda Naval located in Himalayan, which is owned by the Javelin family, has had numerous confrontations between the land owner and the beneficiaries.
It was reported that the private army of the Javelins has prevented the land beneficiaries from taking over the lands which were subjected to agrarian reform. The Goal and the Purpose of Agrarian Reform It has been established that the primary goal of the CARP is to ensure and promote the welfare of landless farmers and farm workers. Likewise, it can be deducted that the supplemental purpose of agrarian reform is the elevation of social Justice and equity, thus reducing social inequality and addressing the problem of structural poverty especially in the rural areas.
In the case of Negroes Island, this has not yet been achieved and it would seem that they are no closer to it today than they were twenty years ago. Reform should produce is the proper distribution of land to the landless farmers by he land owners. It should be noted, however, that land distribution is not enough to alleviate the poverty issue. Page 14 Distribution of land should also include commensurate economic benefits to both land owners and land beneficiaries.
Unlike physical goods which have a commensurate value when transferred, farm lands need investments and developments in order for it to become profitable. A piece of farmland, which has no support in terms of farming and tilling will never produce the same economic value as compared to one with existing facilities for farming. An example of this problem as faced by a hacienda in Adapting. With the implementation of CARP, the land owners were forced to distribute a large part of their land to their farmers.
Since the region is stifled with conflicts, it was much safer for the land owners to release part of their lands than to fight over them. About forty percent of their land was distributed through the CARP and the land beneficiaries were grateful that there was barely any resistance from the family. Even with the loss of that land, the land owners barely felt the economic loss that resulted from the release of land as it was the untilled part f the farm lands which were distributed. Most of the crops (coconuts) were located in the central part of the hacienda, and these were not touched by the CARP.
The land beneficiaries were awarded with land titles to areas of the hacienda which did not have adequate agricultural facilities such as roads and irrigation which are essential in farming. In the end, the beneficiaries were forced to re-sell the awarded lands to the original family and renegotiated to have them work again in the agenda, effectively returning the land back to its original owners. The land owners happily arched most of the land that was lost and it was easier for them to drop the prices due to the desperation of the land beneficiaries.
Obviously, the land owners made a profit from the land that they once lost and now own again. There was no violation of the CARL since the prohibition in the transfer of lands has already passed when the beneficiaries sold back the lands that were awarded to them. And since the land which was returned was already subjected to CARP in the past, it is not covered anymore by the agrarian reform. The land owners benefited in the end, with the beneficiaries not receiving much from the land they sold. As mentioned earlier, it is important to look into the economic aspects of the land which will be subjected to agrarian reform.
Since land owners already get compensated by the government with every piece of land emancipated from them, the land beneficiaries Page 15 should likewise be awarded the right piece of land which will provide them with the commensurate economic benefits. The distributing agency, in this case the Department of Agrarian Reform, should be wary of the needs of the land for it to goal and purpose of the CARP will be completed and both parties will happily benefit from it. Breaking down the Activities When addressing the proper implementation of the CARP, it is necessary to identify problem areas which need to be addressed.
From the earlier discussions, the primary problem which was established is the equitable distribution of land, taking into consideration the economic and socio-political repercussions of these distributions. The primary activity needed for agrarian reform should be an in-depth inventory of the land that is qualified for distribution. Haciendas that are covered by the CARP should be carefully analyses, and land parcels be designated for distribution and emancipation. It is the Job of the DARK to do this inventory of hacienda lands.
The DARK records right now would show which haciendas are subject to CARP, but the inventory with them barely has information on the economic viability of the land parcels. As mentioned several times, equitable distribution is essential for CARP to succeed. Aside from the land parcels which are to be distributed, the DARK also needs to identify who the real beneficiaries of these lands should be. Numerous incidents of false claims have been recorded by the DARK in the past twenty years which prompted many land owners to freeze the distribution f the lands.
As reported in many reports, the freeze in the distribution of the land has resulted to violence and even death. The Polo plantation has reported cases of several groups of farmers who are claiming to be beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program, but don’t have proper documentation to back their claims. This assembly of false claimants has deterred the distribution of several land parcels to the earlier identified land beneficiaries. Page 16 There is also the need for local governments to become more participatory, and if needed intervene for the proper implementation of CARP.
The island of Negroes is a perfect example where local government as well as the local PEN need to have bigger participation in the reform. The earlier mentioned situation of Hacienda Naval, as well as that of Hacienda Kiwi in Hungarian, where land beneficiaries cannot take hold of the awarded land is due to the fact that the local government, the DARK and the PEN are not willing to spar with the land owners for socio-political implications. Just like the more famous Hacienda Lawsuit massacre, Negroes has also seen its share of bloodshed between the land owners and the beneficiaries.
Hundreds of farmers and arm workers have lost their lives in their attempts to claim what was rightfully awarded to them by the CARP. Conclusions In one of the World Banks policy reports, it was stated that the “precondition for land reform to be feasible and effective in improving beneficiaries’ livelihoods is that such programs fit into a broader policy aimed at reducing poverty and establishing a favorable environment for the development of productive smallholder agriculture by beneficiaries. ” (World Bank Report, 2003) In the case of directly improving the lives of the land beneficiaries, CARP has become a failure.
It as resulted to more problems and anxiety among the stakeholders and violence became rampant. Contrary to what is being said in the news reports, even the land owners are receiving the short end of the stick. Certain land owners whose lands were subjected to emancipation became victims of undervaluation. Ghost beneficiaries are very rampant resulting to more lands being improperly distributed. There are also reports that the agency tasked to implement the CARP, the Department of Agrarian Reform, is involved in the improper distribution of lands by installing farmer-beneficiaries who are not workers of the plantations. GE 17 The land beneficiaries plight isn’t any easier either. It can’t be stressed enough that the obligation of the government does not stop with the distribution of the land alone. Alternative distribution schemes such as Stock Distribution Options and Corporative ventures are not viable solutions to the distribution issue. These alternatives defeat the original goal of agrarian reform which is to promote the welfare of landless farmers and farm workers. Without a land that they can call their own, there can never be social Justice and equity.
What good is a farmer when he has no land to farm? The government, in this case the DARK and the local governments in Negroes island, are at fault by allowing the land beneficiaries to face the farming problems on their own. In order for Agrarian reform to be successful, there has to be major investments in the economic capacity building of the land. Supporting institutions such as farmer’s cooperatives, infrastructure like farm to market roads and irrigation, and farmer-friendly loan facilities are needed for a farmer to start from the ground up.
We should remember that the previous land owners have no other obligation to the beneficiaries once the land is distributed. Finally, there is the deed to look into the bureaucratic culture of those tasked to implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The Department of Agrarian Reform, the Local Government Units, the Philippine National Police, and other agencies should be made more accountable of their actions in the implementation of the CARP. There have been proposals to have the CARP extended by a few more years, and even some as radical as extending it indefinitely until they achieve one hundred percent compliance.
I don’t believe that there is further need for any of those. The 1987 Constitution states that the State shall promote a Just and dynamic social order that ill ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all, and more importantly, the State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform.