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Addressing poverty from the Ground up Agrarian Reform I.

INTRODUCTION

-Regalian doctrine -from Albano book II. ISSUES: 1.

ANALYSIS

CARP Deceives Peasants, Benefits Landlords


Government repeatedly declares achievements by successive land and agrarian reform programs including the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). However, an analysis of relevant data would show that CARP cannot address peasant poverty and landlessness because it was never meant to. BY SONNY AFRICA IBON Features Posted by Bulatlat As the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) marks its 18th anniversary, rural poverty continues to be widespread and millions of peasants still remain landless. And this is not just after close to 20 years of CARP, but nearly half a decade of various agrarian reform programs. Major land reform legislation in the country started with the Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954, the Land Reform Act of 1955 and the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963. Following the Agrarian Reform Code of 1971 and Presidential Decree No. 27 (PD 27) in 1972 under the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, agrarian reform took organizational form with the creation of a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Most recently, Republic Act (RA) 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988 initiated the CARP.

AGAINST DECEIT: Writings on Gate 1 of the Cojuangco-owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac assail CARPs unfulfilled promises BULATLAT FILE PHOTO

Yet, according to various Censuses of Agriculture, full land ownership has actually been on the decline since PD 27 was enacted. In 1971, 58% of all farms were fully owned but this fell to 47.5% in 2002; in terms of land area, fully owned farms accounted for 62.9% of total farm area in 1971 but fell to 50.6% in 2002. Although there was a decrease in the share of completely tenanted and leased lands, this did not translate into full ownership but only part ownership that implies a continuation of tenancy and lease arrangements. In fact, the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) of 2002 reported that only 11% of all families owning land other than their residence had obtained land through CARP. Yet the government repeatedly declares achievements by successive land and agrarian reform programs including, most recently, the CARP. How does this reconcile with decreasing land ownership according to agriculture census data? Pro-Landlord The DAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported a cumulative accomplishment of a seemingly impressive 6.4 million hectares or 79.4% of the target CARP scope of 8.1 million hectares with 3.8 million farmer beneficiaries from 1972 to June 2005. These figures seem to indicate that agrarian reform in the Philippines is well underway, albeit slowly. However, the current target scope represents a severe downward adjustment from CARP's original scope in 1988. Back then, the target for distribution was 10.3 million hectares, or some 85% of total agricultural land planted to crops and a third of the country's total land area. This was adjusted downwards by 21.7% in 1996 to the current scope of 8.1 million hectares following drastic cuts in coverage of both private and public lands. The reason behind these cuts may be rooted in CARPs pro-landlord orientation. CARP is not about free land distribution to the tiller which is the core of a genuine land reform program. Instead, CARP seeks to provide landlord compensation and require peasant beneficiaries to pay for land that they have been tilling for generations. Land reform under CARP is essentially a land transaction between landlords and peasants with the government acting as the middleman.

accommodate CARP exemptions. CARP allows landlords to retain five hectares of land and an additional three hectares for each of the heirs. PD No. 27 had a retention limit of seven hectares each. Landlords used these as a loophole, hurriedly subdividing their landholdings and coming out with multiple titles within the limits. Yet the scope of exemptions even broadened far beyond just retention limits. At least 60,000 hectares of land in commercial farms and plantations were exempted from 1988 to 1998 and these remain undistributed even as the deferment period has already expired. The Supreme Court handed down a decision in 1990 sparing commercial livestock, poultry and swine operations from CARP coverage. Belated land use conversion is also another way out where agricultural lands that have already been distributed are suddenly found to be, according to local land use plans or zoning ordinances, for residential, commercial or industrial use and hence CARP-exempt.

It has Further, been landlords the subject of most discussions that the gravamen of the Comprehensive also had the option to forego land distribution altogether through non-land transfer schemes, such as the
infamous stock distribution option (SDO). The SDO adopted corporate stock sharing instead of land distribution to peasants. Agrarian Reform Law is social justice. According to Dr. Jose P. Laurel in the landmark case of Aside from other production and profit-sharing arrangements, the SDOs leasehold arrangements supposedly guaranteed that, in farms under five hectares, the split of net produce between landlord-tenant would be 25-75. Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil 726, social justice is the humanization of laws and equalization of In the end, the revised CARP scope in 1996 only covered 3.0 million hectares of private land. This implies that 43.7% of

social and economic by the stateso that in its and objectively total potential forces private land for distribution around 5.3justice million hectares rational was exempted outright from CARP. secular The conception may at least approximated. The promotion of the welfare of all the people, the by big landlords as be cattle ranches, export crop plantations and logging concessions. adoption by Trends the government of measures ensure economic stability ofthe all the in CARP implementation also confirmcalculated its pro-landlord to bias. Compulsory acquisition (CA) covering largest component elements society through theThis maintenance of proper and social largest balanceof remaining among all land types. is both in terms of absolute landeconomic area (1.3 million hectares) and as a equilibrium in the interrelations of the members of the community, constitutionally, through the adoption of measures legally justifiable, or extra-constitutionally, through the transfer of land from landlords to the peasant beneficiaries, with the government no longer acting astime-honored the buyer (from the
landlord) and the seller (to the peasant). Instead, government only becomes responsible for mediating the transfer and The "over-performance" of voluntary land transfers (VLTs) by 82.8% is alarming. VLTs ostensibly provide for the direct subsequent enforcement of the contract. The principle of salus populi est suprema lex .use of this particular CARP mode of land redistribution is alarming not only percentage of its target scope (83.8%). It also accounts for the majority of total balance remaining (76%). chunk of privately-owned land (including commercial farms and plantations) and the most resistant landlords has the reductions in the scope of public land in turn accommodated vast tracts of government land leased or otherwise controlled

because the landlord is put in a strong position to dictate the terms of the contract with the peasant. More important, the landlord is put in a position to use VLT as a deception where there is only a bogus "contract" and no transfer of land at all.

On top of all this, landlordson have also profited immensely from CARP apartDeclaration from what they had accumulated The pertinent provision social justice is found in the ofalready Principles and Policies,

Section 2,

through generations of land ownership. From 1972 to June 2005, total approved Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) compensation to 83,203 landowners for 1.3 million hectares has already reached P41.6 billion ($783.2 million, based on an Chapter I of the CARL, which states: exchange rate of P53.115 per US dollar) in cash and bonds, or an average of P500,463 ($9422.25) per landlord. An additional P4.5 billion ($84.7 million) is earmarked for 2006.

Deceptive accomplishments The welfare of the landless farmers and farm workers will receive the highest The CARP's reported accomplishments are also dubious since various forms of bogus land distribution bloat the figures. The consideration to promote social justicecertificates and to of move the nation towards sound "accomplishments" include lands with registered land ownership award (CLOAs) but these have rural not been

development and industrialization, andare the establishment of owner cultivatorship CLOAs and the "individual" CLOAs under these both tallied. In the most brazen cases, there are CLOA holdersof who still economic-sized farms as the basis of Philippine agriculture. To
The numbers also include "encumbered" CLOAs prematurely released to beneficiaries for the sole purpose of padding reports. These CLOAs are stamped or otherwise annotated as "encumbered" because of unsettled payments and documentary requirements and do not yet give holders the same rights of ownership as regular CLOAs. Land has also been this end, more equitable and ownership of land, with due regard to reported asa distributed but in reality isdistribution inalienable or otherwise not suited for agricultural production. away from beneficiaries. Landlords and rural elites exploit a legal defect of CLOAs and EPs that limits the security of them as opposed to CLOAs and EPs that have no such limit. do not occupy the land because of outright landlord resistance.

turned over to tenants who are still paying for their amortization. There is double counting where "mother" or collective

Apart of from reporting dubious accomplishments, these reports and also do not reflect cases of land being awarded but later taken the rights landowners to just compensation to the ecological needs of the beneficiaries' to the land covered. Torrens Titles have a one-year prescriptive period with for bringing cases against to nation, shall beclaim undertaken to provide farmers and farm workers the up opportunity

enhance their dignity and improve the quality of their lives through greater productivity
This gives landlords the legal opening to reclaim land by disputing the redistribution of land. CARP exemptions are used, including supposed errors in data entries, in the change of documents from EPs to CLOAs and in the identification of legitimate farmer beneficiaries. These defects, loopholes, and outright corruption have resulted in thousands of cancellations through the years. Over 2,000 CLOAs and EPs covering over 380,000 hectares of land and thousands of peasant families had been cancelled by mid-2004, including EPs distributed over two decades ago. This is likely to be a gross underestimation though because DAR officials themselves admit that there is no nationwide mechanism in place to monitor reversals happening on the ground. Land conversion has also caused total farm area to fall to 9.7 million hectares in 2002, or 304,078 hectares less in 1991. This figure does not include land that has been "converted" only on paper for the landlords expediency. albeit belatedly, as the basis for cancellations. They also maneuver decisions favorable to them through technicalities of agricultural lands.

Beneficiaries are hard-pressed to make the lands distributed to them productive because there are no support and extension services available to them. This comes on top of the generally unfavorable economic environment due to rapid agricultural sector liberalization in the 1990s and the dumping of cheap cereals, spices and vegetables from abroad. Falling farm incomes and mounting debt drive peasants to stop amortizing "their" land leading either to foreclosure, a sale of the land back to the landlord (who continues the payments), or out-and-out abandonment. CARP accomplishment reports then do not reflect the hundreds of thousands of hectares of land that "beneficiaries" are losing back to landlords, commercial and real estate developers. In any case it seems that not all 2.1 million DAR CARP beneficiaries hold either EPs or CLOAs since there are only 1.7 million EP and CLOA holders as of December 2004.

This paper aims to

Poverty and landlessness

rights and responsibilities of the landless farmer, on the one hand, and the land owner, on the
Land rent is still common with tenants paying anywhere from 30% to, in some extreme cases, as much 90% of their produce many coconut farms in the Bicol region, is among the most common.

The clear failure of land reform in the country has severe consequences for a predominantly agricultural country like the Philippines. The peasants who make up the largest part of the population continue to be exploited by rural land, credit, Ultimately, the equilibrium discussed inmiserable the definition of poverty social justice primarily lies trading and marketing monopolies and are kept in poverty. Rural incidence is two-and-a-half times on that the in urban areas and 73% of the country's poor live in agriculture-dependent rural areas.

landlords. The tersyuhan arrangement of a two-thirds to the landlord and one-third the tenant, which happens in them other hand. to To the former is awarded the highestshare consideration with theto purpose of scooping

out from the mire of poverty, while to the latter is endowed with the right to just compensation.
Farmworkers are doubly burdened with irregular work and even when there is work to be found low wages. Agricultural daily minimum wages ranged from P151-P212 ($2.84-$3.99) nationwide yet farmworker wages were found to go as low as P20 ($0.38) in Negros, P50 ($0.94) in Samar and P69 ($1.30) in Cagayan Valley. Peasants meanwhile have to contend with traders charging high prices for agricultural inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, while paying low prices for peasant produce. With peasant incomes perpetually falling far below their needs, usury's grip is deep with interest rates reaching the equivalent of 20% per month, 200% per harvest and 400% per year. In the province of Mindoro Oriental, P1,000 ($18.83) loans have been charged interest of four (4) sacks of rice, or equivalent to over four times the original loan amount. CARP cannot address peasant poverty and landlessness because it was never meant to. Thus, the only hope for genuine land exploitation by landlords and traders. They have improved their livelihoods and welfare in ways that, unlike CARP, do not sidestep the issue of who should be benefiting from tilling and working the land.

How is our Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law doing so far?

II.

BODY reform in the country lies with the growing peasant movement. Organized peasant groups have directly confronted

A. In the Eyes of the Farmers

In a June 10, 2013, article of the Philippine Star by Dennis Carcamo, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) allegedly said that the government's comprehensive agrarian reform program is a shama hoax, a hypocrisy. They claimed that vast tracks of land owned by rich and influential clans have remained undistributed despite 25 years of the CARLs coming into existence. They were of the belief that the continuing control and monopoly of affluent land owners depict the ugly truth that CARL was enacted not to sincerely address the sad plight of

poor farmers, but merely to appease their unrest under the illusion of an agrarian reform that looked promising on its face but, in truth, an utter failure.

KMP Secretary General Antonio Flores cited the case of Hacienda Luisita owned by the affluent family of no less than our President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III, commenting that the Department of Agrarian Reform had earlier avowed to distribute the 6,000-hectare hacienda; however, said tracks of land remain intact. Flores added that what actually transpired in the 25year existence of CARL is the buy-and sell-transaction between the government, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the supposed farmer beneficiary.

On the same date, several Filipino farmers trooped to the DARs office in Quezon City to protest its alleged failure in the implementation of the CARL.

B. In the Eyes of the Land Owners

For most land owners, their perception of CARL is no better than the farmers insight of the same.

Most, even non-land owners, would likely agree that the CARL has, though unintentionally, spawned a new breed of poor land owners in the teetering pursuit of affording those who have less in life more in law. Oftentimes, however, this causes an imbalance such that those who have more are eventually left with less than what is awarded to the farmer. Take, for instance, the concept of just compensation. In a long line of cases decided by the Supreme Court, one of the most notable issues land owners assert is the inefficiency of the government to properly and adequately adjudicate the just compensation that corresponds to the land being appropriated for redistribution. Often, land owners still need to resort to the hassle (and even agony) of bringing their case to court for proper determination of the compensation due them. What is just compensation should not be adjudicated based on arbitrary decisions, but on well researched evidence and careful scrutiny of the facts and circumstances of the situation. The government, as represented by the DAR, sadly lacks in this department.

A number of lands subject for land distribution have been converted to purposes other than agricultural. In one case, the farmer who was awarded the land even went to such extent of having his neighbors construct their residential homes in said land. In effect, these neighbors paid their rentals to the supposed farmer beneficiary. Most importantly, the supposed farmer who should be cultivating the awarded land for agricultural use converted the same to a subdivision. Considering that there have been many families who have built their homes on the subject land, what would be the governments remedy? Is it in keeping with social justice to demolish the houses they painstakingly built and drive them away to revert the land bank to agricultural land? Still others convert the land covered by their Certificate of Land Owners Award to uses other than agricultural to pursue more promising money-making ventures, causing depletion of good agricultural lands that are a necessity to support the expanding needs of a growing populace.

Hence, in most cases, lands are left with neither farm nor farmers, and that essentially defeats the very purpose of agrarian reform.

C. In the Eyes of a Third Party Who are these third party? They are those not principally involved in the CARL, neither as farmer beneficiary, and owner, nor the government, but are equally affected by the success or failure of this herein law. Although we are not directly involved, yet we are part of this country just the same, and we share the plight of the tripartite system. Hence, as necessary component of the country, we are called not to sit back and watch, but to take an active role in asserting proper implementation of the law. In this day and age of modern technology, self-expression is within everyones fingertips. More than that, however, the recommendations should reach the authorities so that the qualms aired will not be left unheard.

III.

CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION

Produced by: Bureau of Agrarian Reform Information and Education (BARIE) Communications Development Division (CDD)

Government Initiatives on AR What are the other specific programs of this administration to enhance CARP implementation? Provide additional income and food security to farmers and their communities as well as to come up with globally competitive farm-based products through the Gulayan Magsasakang Agraryo. Usher new educational opportunities to farmers children and dependents through the Diosdado Macapagal Scholar Program. Sustain support services delivery by doubling the number of barangays covered by ARCs.

Heighten agrarian case resolution by introducing a quota system to compel adjudicators to work faster on agrarian cases and train farmers into paralegals. The presence of paralegals will assist DAR in effectively addressing the challenge of swift and just delivery of agrarian reform. Sources: BATAS: The Paralegals Guidebook on Agrarian Reform Laws-Volume 2 Manual on Agrarian Reform Modules 33

Government Initiatives on AR What are the different implementing strategies of the Bayan-Anihan Framework? Salin-Lupa : Accelerating land transfer and improving land tenure Katarungan : Prompt and fair settlement of agrarian disputes and delivery of agrarian reform justice. Bayanihan : Better delivery by the government of appropriate support services to ARBs and the mobilization of the ARBs themselves in the transformation of the agrarian reform communities into an agrarian reform zones and into progressive farming.

Kabayanihan or the Konsehong Bayan Para sa Anihan : Institutionalization not only of the system of dialogue and consultation but also joint problem solving with AR stakeholders, p a rt i cu l a r l y peoples o r g a n i za t io n s , cooperatives and NGOs. Kamalayan : Raising the awareness of DAR personnel, agrarian reform.