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Republic of the Philippines

Saint Louis University, Baguio City


School of Law

PROMISED LAND: The Cry of the Poor Peasants


A Research Paper in Partial Fulfilment of the Subject:
Agrarian Law and Social Legislation

Submitted to:
Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

Submitted by:
Banez, May
Bosantog Herbert Armstrong
Cubian, Clifford
Dogaong, Azril
Poking, Samuel

December 5, 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.

INTRODUCTION . 6

II.

AGRARIAN REFORM IN THE PHILIPPINES: AN OVERVIEW .. 8


A. Agrarian Reform Defined .. 8
B. The Purpose: Philippine Agrarian Reform . 9
C. Agrarian Reform in Action 11
D. Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century 12
1. Agrarian Reforms Core Principles . 12
2. CARP/ERs Dubious Record 14
a. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
b. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms
(CARPER)
c. Lands Still to be Distributed
3. The Agrarian Situation 17

III. THE EVOLUTION OF PHILIPPINE AGRARIAN REFORM . 17


A. Colonial Era Land Tenure .20
B. Post-Independence Era Developments . 21
C. Recent Agrarian reform Law Developments 23
D. Agrarian reform Program After Martial Law 24
E. Is Agrarian reform a Failure in the Philippines? 30
IV. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF AGRARIAN REFORM 32
A. Pre-Hispanic Era: Communal Ownership . 32
B. Effects of Spanish Colonialism . 33
1. Spanish Friars
2. Encomienda System
3. The Hacienda System
C. The End of Spanish Colonial Rule and the American Influence . 37

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

V. THE FAILURES OF EARLY AGRARIAN REFORM MEASURES 39


A. The William Howard Taft Administration 39
B. Philippine Bill of 1902 40
C. The Torrens System . 40
D. Homestead Program of 1903 . 41
E. The Friar Lands Act of 1904 41
F. The Rice Tenancy Act . 42
G. Succeeding Tenancy Acts 42
H. Other Agrarian Laws Introduced by the Americans . 43
VI. GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES ON AGRARIAN REFORM 44
A. What Triggered the Initiation of Philippine Agrarian Reform? 44
B. Manuel L. Quezon Administration (1935-1944) 46
1. Laws on Agrarian Reform during His Administration
C. Agrarian Reform Initiatives by Other Administrations . 48
1. Manuel A. Roxas Administration (1946-1948) . 48
2. Elpidio Quirino Administration (1948-1953) . 49
3. Ramon Magsaysay Administration (1953-1957) . 49
a. The Key Support Programs on Agrarian Reform
4. Carlos P. Garcia Administration (1957-1961) . 50
D.

Diosdasdo Macapagal Administration (1961-1965) 51

E.

Ferdinand E. Marcos Administration (1965-1986) . 52

F.

Corazon C. Aquino Administration (1986-1992) . 54


1. Agrarian Reform Legislations and Issuances Passed under this
Administration
2. Other Accomplishments of the Aquino Administration

G. Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998) 57


1. What was done to facilitate land distribution?
H. Joseph Ejercito Estrada Administration (1998-2001) . 59
I.

Gloria MacapagalArroyo Administration (20012010) . 61

J. Benigno C. Aquino Administration (2010up to present) . 63

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

VII.

FAILURES OF AGRARIAN REFORM OF THE PAST ADMINISTRATIONS 66


A. Manuel L. Quezon (Budget Allocation and Outbreak of War)
B. Manuel A. Roxas (Lack of Support Facilities)
C. Elpidio Quirino (Limited Post-War Resources)
D. Ramon Magsaysay (Lack of Funds)
E. Carlos P. Garcia (Implementation)
F. Diosdasdo Macapagal (Implementation)
G. Ferdinand E. Marcos (Existence of Some Limitations)
H. Corazon C. Aquino (Budgetary Shortfall)
I.

Fidel V. Ramos (Installation of Farmer Beneficiaries)

J. Joseph Ejercito Estrada (Fiscal Constraints and Conflicts)


K. Gloria MacapagalArroyo (Positive)
L. Benigno C. Aquino (Snail-Paced)
VIII. OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF PHILIPPINE AGRARIAN REFORM 73
IX. RECOMMENDATIONS .75
A. PRINCIPLES OF GENUINE AGRARIAN REFORM
X. CONCLUSION .. 78

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

ABSTRACT
Being landless was the main cause of social unrest and revolt. Land dispute
has been characterised by fierce, sometimes bloody, power struggles over
lands. Laws and decrees have been passed to correct the sharp inequalities
in the distribution of land ownership. The government introduced a variety
of laws and regulations to improve the lot of the tenant farmers and small
landholders. Agrarian reform programs have been enacted to be
implemented as a social justice measure in order to change the prevailing
situation of unjust and inequitable ownership of land and resources by a few
individuals in the society. 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 agrarian reform laws contained
legal loopholes that gave landlords the opportunity to have their lands be
exempted, if not delaying the inclusion, through legal means. Philippine
agrarian reform has experienced all the difficulties one would expect in a
poor society of immense inequality. The emergence of an independent,
unified agrarian reform department was slow.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

I.

INTRODUCTION

Land for the landless is a slogan that underscores the acute imbalance in the
distribution of this precious resource among the Filipino people. But it is more than a
slogan. Through the brooding centuries, it has become a battle-cry dramatizing the
increasingly urgent demand of the dispossessed among us for a plot of earth as their
place in the sun (Assoc. of Small Landowners in the Philippines vs. Secretary of Agrarian
Reform, GR. No. 78742).
Agrarian reform has been the main policy response of government to correct the
sharp inequalities in the distribution of land ownership in the Philippines. The historical
records show that the process of disposal of State lands has heavily favored households
with economic and political power. The result has been the ownership of big
landholdings by few families and the rise of haciendas or family estates comprising
several hundreds and thousands of hectares. Land distribution tended to become
concentrated in landed elites and large masses of peasants were displaced and became
landless.
For over a century, the Philippines has been characterised by fierce, sometimes
bloody, power struggles over land. In addition, Agrarian reform has been a highly
political issue for centuries, a factor that contributed to its sluggish performance in
every regime in the last century. The historical records of agrarian reform programs
were believed to be implemented as a social justice measure in order to change the
prevailing situation of unjust and inequitable ownership of land and resources by a few
individuals in the society.
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. Realizing
that being landless was the main cause of social unrest and revolt at that time, the
Americans sought to put an end to the miserable conditions of the tenant tillers.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

The American initiatives on agrarian reform were 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.
After Philippine independence in 1946, successive governments introduced a variety of
laws and regulations to improve the lot of the tenant farmers and small landholders.
Agrarian reform programs have been enacted 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.
Philippine agrarian reform has experienced all the difficulties one would expect
in a poor society of immense inequality. Laws and decrees have been passed over three
decades, yet many ambiguities of interpretation remain. Decisions on land valuation
are subject to bargaining processes which occasion lengthy delays. The emergence of
an independent, unified agrarian reform department was slow.
Land distribution under the Aquino administration has been moving at a snails
pace. Despite judicial decisions, the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita lands has been
slow and bureaucratic with harassments of worker-beneficiaries. As peasant leader
Jaime Tadeo bewailed: How much land still needs to be redistributed? Where are
these lands located? These are data for which we continue to petition the agency in
vain. Indeed, the agrarian reform laws contained legal loopholes that gave landlords
the opportunity to have their lands be exempted, if not delaying the inclusion, through
legal means.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

II. AGRARIAN REFORM IN THE PHILIPPINES: AN OVERVIEW


A. Agrarian Reform Defined
Agrarian reform is the redistribution of public and private agricultural lands,
regardless of produce and tenurial arrangement, to landless farmers and regular farm
workers, to include support services and other arrangements alternative to distribution
of land such as production/profit sharing, labor organization, or distribution of shares
of stock.[1] The Republic Act 6657[2] or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988
has defined agrarian reform as:
the redistribution of lands regardless of crops or fruits
produced to farmers and regular farmworkers who are
landless, irrespective of tenurial arrangement, to include
the totality of factors and support services designed to lift
the economic status of the beneficiaries and all other
arrangements alternative to the physical redistribution of
lands,

such

as

production

or

profit-sharing

labor

administration, and the distribution of shares of stock,


which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the
fruits of the lands they work.
Agrarian reform most often refers to transfer from ownership by a relatively
small number of wealthy (or noble) owners with extensive land holdings (e.g.
plantations, large ranches, or agribusiness plots) to individual or collective ownership
by those who work the land. Agrarian reform usually refers to government-initiated or
government-backed redistribution of i.e. transfer of ownership of (or tenure in)
agricultural land.[3]

____________________
[1]

Source: www.edu.cebuestates.com/agrarian-land-reform/1concepts-exemptions-retention.htm

[2]

Republic Act No. 6657, Sec. 3 (a).

[3]

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrarian_reform

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

Agrarian Reform does not, of course, simply mean changes in land ownership. It
also involves the provision of support services including, but not restricted to, capital
and credit, improved production and post-harvest technologies, access to physical
markets and market information, as well as access to social services. Such services are
designed not only to improve incomes but also to reduce inequities in control over
assets and markets, to militate against distress sales of land or subjection to usury and
thereby to assist beneficiaries in developing their relative autonomy both culturally and
politically.[4]

B. The Purpose: Philippine Agrarian Reform


Agrarian reform has been the main policy response of government to correct the
sharp inequalities in the distribution of land ownership in the Philippines. The historical
records show that the process of disposal of State lands has heavily favored households
with economic and political power. These households had undue advantage over the
common populace in acquiring property rights through the Spanish system of royal
grants and the American system of land cadastre. The result has been the ownership of
big landholdings by few families and the rise of haciendas or family estates comprising
several hundreds and thousands of hectares.[5]
Agrarian reform efforts to correct these inequalities have been traced back to
the Commonwealth period.[6] The main motivation of the earlier reforms was the breakup of monopoly ownership and control of land resources. Starting the 1960s, however,
major advances in the implementation of agrarian reform program in the country took

____________________
[4]

Arthur D. Neame. February 2008. Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Mapping the Terrain.

[5]

Marife Ballesteros and Alma dela Cruz. December, 2006. Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Agrarian reform and Changes in Land Ownership Concentration: Evidence from Rice-Growing Villages in the
Philippines. Discussion Paper Series No. 2006-21.
[6]

The start of agrarian reform in the Philippines has been traced back to the break-up of friar lands in
1908. This was followed by other Acts that focused on tenancy reforms and resettlement on public lands. Tenancy
reforms involved regulations on contracts and landlord-tenant relations aimed at protecting tenants against
abuses by the landlords (Public Act 4054). On the other hand, resettlement involved the opening up of new
settlement areas and the purchase of friar lands for distribution to peasants. (Murray 1972 in Hayami and Kukuchi
book 1981).
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

10

place. In 1963, the Agrarian Reform Code was enacted which introduced the concept
of owner-cultivatorship and leasehold tenure. Owner-cultivatorship provided tenants
the opportunity to own land while leasehold tenancy afforded tenants permanent use
rights over the land. The 1963 Code paved way to a modern concept of agrarian
reform which envisioned a broad-based human and economic development for the
agriculture sector. This concept broach the idea of an agrarian reform program instead
of merely agrarian reform to emphasize the concern not only with the acquisition and
distribution of land but also of uplifting the political and socioeconomic status of
beneficiaries. It is in this light that the 1972 and 1988 agrarian reform programs have
been instituted. In particular, Presidential Decree 27 (PD 27) of 1972 resulted in the
following changes in the program[7][8]:
i.

one, coverage of the reform was not limited to pilot areas but
applied comprehensively;

ii.

two, acquisition of private lands was made compulsory;

iii.

three, land ownership ceiling was substantially lowered from 75


to 7 hectares; and

iv.

four, the inclusion of support services to assist beneficiaries


attain economic efficiency in production.

Additional reforms were instituted under Republic Act (RA) 6657 of 1988 or the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). CARL has all the basic design of the 1972
program but coverage was expanded to all agricultural lands while ownership ceiling
was further reduced to 5 hectares. [9]

____________________
[7]

The earlier programs were never implemented on a large scale. In particular, the 1963 program covered
only pilot areas in Central Luzon. The retention limit under the 1963 Code was 75 hectares. Government
expropriated land in excess of 75 hectares. In 1972, landowners where allowed to retain at most 7 hectares plus 3
hectares for each heir of the land they currently owned.
[8]

Marife Ballesteros and Alma dela Cruz. December, 2006. Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Agrarian reform and Changes in Land Ownership Concentration: Evidence from Rice-Growing Villages in the
Philippines. Discussion Paper Series No. 2006-21.
[9]

Ibid.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

11

C. Agrarian Reform in Action


Despite the shortcomings of the agrarian reform programs in the Philippines,
these programs specifically PD 27 and CARL paved way to the break-up of huge estates.
In several areas the increase in the number of owner cultivators has been observed even
in provinces where the hacienda system used to dominate. However, the rampant
selling and mortgaging of lands awarded to farmer beneficiaries have also been
reported (DAR 1996). The Department of Agrarian Reform reports that in 23 provinces
covered by agrarian reform the proportion of farmer beneficiaries in a village which
have had sale transactions range from a low of 7% to a high of 100%. [10]
In general, the agrarian reform law prohibits the transfer of awarded lands
except by hereditary succession. This legal impediment however has not prevented the
sale of awarded lands. Sales and other forms of land transfer actions of farmer
beneficiaries have been attributed to the demand for overseas employment and to the
low productivity of agriculture[11][12]. Studies show that such actions are not necessarily
regressive but have led to an increase in investments of rural households in
education[13]. However, there is a growing concern over the possible consolidation of
agricultural lands which can again lead to widening land ownership distribution.[14]

____________________
[10]

Marife Ballesteros and Alma dela Cruz. December, 2006. Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Agrarian reform and Changes in Land Ownership Concentration: Evidence from Rice-Growing Villages in the
Philippines. Discussion Paper Series No. 2006-21.
[11]

Nagarajan, Geetha, C. David, R. Meyer (1992) Informal Finance Through Land Pawning Contracts:
Evidence from the Philippines. Journal of Development Studies 29 (1): 93-107.
[12]

Estudillo, J. Y. Sawada and K. Otsuka (2006). Changing Determinants of Schooling Investments and
Overseas Emigration: Evidence from Rural Villages in the Philippines. Draft paper submitted for publication to the
Journal of Economic Literature.
[13]

Ibid.

[14]

Marife Ballesteros and Alma dela Cruz. December, 2006. Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Agrarian reform and Changes in Land Ownership Concentration: Evidence from Rice-Growing Villages in the
Philippines. Discussion Paper Series No. 2006-21.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

12

D. Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century


For over a century, the Philippines has been characterised by fierce, sometimes
bloody, power struggles over land. Typically, governments have won votes and
appeased protestors by promising to reform land ownership, but have then failed to
deliver more than token levels of redistribution.[15]
In June 2014, the Philippine governments agrarian reform law reached its 26th
year of implementation (including a 16-year extension period) with completion nowhere
in sight. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its extension, the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) had
provisions that were generally favorable to their intended beneficiaries. But CARP/ER
was also essentially the result of a compromise between pro and anti-agrarian reform
blocs in the Philippine Congress and thus also contained provisions inserted by
landowner lobbyists that are considered loopholes in the law.[16]

1. Agrarian Reforms Core Principles[17]


The basic principles of a genuine, meaningful and sustainable agrarian reform
program are enshrined in the long history of agrarian unrest and rural social movements
that have punctuated the countrys experience since colonial times. In the current era,
they are best exemplified by the Declaration of Principles adopted in May 1987 by the
Congress for a Peoples Agrarian Reform (CPAR) which became the highest expression
of peasant, farm worker, and fisher folk unity immediately after the ouster of the
Marcos dictatorship in 1986. CPAR consisted of twelve (12) major rural national and
regional mass organizations and fourteen (14) non-governmental support groups from
____________________
[15]

Saturnino M. Borras Jr. and Jennifer Franco. October, 2008. Reforming Agrarian reform in the
Philippines. Research findings at a glance from the Institute of Development Studies Citizens Building Responsive
States.
[16]
Eduardo Climaco Tadem. May 2015. Philippine Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century. Land grabbing,
conflict and agrarianenvironmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. An international
academic conference 56 June 2015, Chiang Mai University Discussion Note No. 2.
[17]

Ibid.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

13

all sections of the political spectrum. The CPAR declaration asserted that, The core
principle in agrarian reform is the primacy of the right of all members of the
agricultural labor force who do not own land, near-landless farmers, farmworkers,
small fisherfolk and other direct producers to own and control the land, have full
access to other natural resources and gain full disposition over the.[18]
In this regard, the major issues are (1) social justice and inequality, (2) low
productivity, (3) lack of control by the rural masses over their lives and destiny, (4)
under-industrialization, (5) environmental breakdown, and (6) foreign domination.
CPAR also outlined the aims of its agrarian reform program:
1. To transfer landed wealth and power over the land and its produce to the actual
tillers;
2. To free and develop the productive powers of agrarian workers, and fisher folk
form the forces that deprive them of resources and initiative;
3. To develop the mechanisms for people empowerment by creating autonomous
decision-making bodies of the rural masses;
4. To promote nationalist industrialization by widening the national market,
rechannelling the agricultural surplus into industrial investments and labor for
industrial development, and the establishment of self-sufficient local industries
controlled by the rural masses;
5. To conserve the natural environment so that it may serve the short and longterm needs of the Filipino people; and
6. To do away with foreign control over natural resources.
These then are the basic principles and features of an agrarian reform program that
meets the true needs and deep aspirations of the Filipino peasantry and other rural
working classes. When measured against what CARP/ER has had to offer, CPAR and
PARCODE definitely represent the more superior alternative.

____________________
[18]

Congress for a Peoples Agrarian Reform (CPAR)

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

14

Economist Lourdes Adriano (1991)[19] said as much in declaring that, PARCODE


is superior to CARP since (1) in terms of area coverage it is more comprehensive (2)
it does not provide alternative schemes to land distribution (thus) lessening the
possible evasionary venues available to present landowners, (3) it proposes a single
retention limit which is likewise the award ceiling to agrarian reform beneficiaries,
(4) it stipulates that the prospective beneficiaries acquire quality or prime lands,
thereby enhancing their opportunity to increase yields, (5) it favors a shorter time
period for agrarian reform implementation, and (6) lastly, it is more flexible for
unlike RA 6657 which stipulates a step-wise implementation schedule, PARCODE leaves
determination of the priority areas to the (peoples) agrarian reform committees.
Adriano concludes that:
If implemented according to plan, PARCODEs agrarian
reform program will ensure a more egalitarian landownership
structure. Moreover, since it is premised on the development
of small-sized farms, it will ensure the economy of a more
efficient allocation of the countrys resources.
2. CARP/ERs Dubious Record[20]
a. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
The CARP was an improvement over previous legislation in that it covered all
agricultural lands and the entire rural landless labor force. But it was hobbled by antipeasant and pro-landlord provisions that allowed mere regulation of existing tenurial
forms including the nefarious stock distribution option and leaseback agreements,
provided for an omnibus list of exemptions, established fair market value for

____________________
[19]

Lourdes Saulo Adriano, A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program,
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Philippine Institute of Development Studies, August 1991.
[20]

Eduardo Climaco Tadem. May 2015. Philippine Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century. Land grabbing,
conflict and agrarianenvironmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. An international
academic conference 56 June 2015, Chiang Mai University Discussion Note No. 2.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

15

landowner compensation, created a payment amortization scheme that was


unfavorable for beneficiaries, set a high retention limit of as much as 14 hectares,
prioritized the distribution of public land over private holdings, mandated a long period
of implementation, and generally ignored the role of beneficiaries and civil society
groups in seeing the program through.
b. Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms
(CARPER)
CARPER, on the other hand, also contained provisions that favored beneficiaries
in terms of land acquisition and distribution such as the indefeasibility of awarded
beneficiary lands, recognition of usufruct rights of beneficiaries, a grace period for
amortization payments, speeding up the process of awarding lands, removal of the
stock-distribution option, disallowed the conversion of irrigable and irrigated lands,
automatic coverage of lands targeted for conversion pending for at least 5 years,
reinstated compulsory acquisition and voluntary-offers-of-sale as main redistribution
modes, and recognized women as beneficiaries.
c. Lands Still to be Distributed
Despite all these gains, anti-reform legislators still managed to insert a killer
amendment that allowed landowners to determine who would be beneficiaries and
who would be excluded from the program. Other objectionable provisions are those
expanding the list of exempted lands, allowing local governments to acquire
agricultural lands beyond the 5-hectare retention limit and the deprioritization of
seasonal and other non-regular farmworkers as qualified beneficiaries. Despite some
changes, major CARP constraints such as the landlord compensation scheme based on,
among others, market value and the beneficiary payment formula based on gross
production have been retained.
It must be stated, however, that the gains, especially from CARPER, were the
results of unrelenting and struggles by peasant and farmworker groups to assert their
rights and sustained pressure on government to accord them their entitled rights.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

16

Still and all, as a result of the long-standing and self-serving practice of


prioritizing public lands over the distribution of private lands, DAR is still left with a
balance of about one million hectares of the most difficult and contentious lands still
to be distributed as of December 2013. This is a more realistic estimate given: (1) the
absence of validating data for DARs claim that only less than 800,000 hectares remain
to be distributed and, (2) given areas that were arbitrarily removed from the target, or
are not being targeted (including problematic landholdings), untitled properties, and
exempted or excluded lands which should have been covered by the program. To
camouflage its lacklustre performance, DAR has resorted to merely reporting the
issuances of Notices of Coverage (NOC) as accomplishments while keeping from public
view the more essential indicators of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs)
and, even more crucial, Emancipation Patents (EPs).
As peasant leader Jaime Tadeo bewailed: How much land still needs to be
redistributed? Where are these lands located? These are data for which we continue
to petition the agency in vain. Indeed land distribution under the Aquino
administration has been moving at a snails pace; marked by a consistent and chronic
failure to meet annual targets, the shameless misrepresentation of performance
indicators, and lack of political commitment by the DAR leadership under Secretary
Virgilio de los Reyes. Despite judicial decisions, the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita
lands has been slow and bureaucratic with harassments of worker-beneficiaries
continuing. Agrarian reform support groups argue that the current administrations
CARP performance is the worst since 1988, the year CARP took effect.[21]
In many instances, however, powerful families have also taken control over
public lands and have resisted (sometimes violently) their distribution to qualified
beneficiaries. In any case, the distribution of privately-owned and/or privatelycontrolled landholdings constitute the heart and soul of agrarian reform and here is
where the implementation of CARP/ER has been found to be most wanting and
____________________
[21]

Focus on the Global South (with the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance), The State of Agrarian Reform Under
President Benigno Aquino IIIs Government: Beyond the Numbers: A struggle for social justice and inclusive rural
development, (Focus on the global south-Philippines: Quezon City. 2013.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

17

negligent.
Contrary to the claim of the present DAR leadership that landowner resistance is
not a major problem, numerous reports have surfaced of farmers being evicted,
harassed, intimidated and killed by landlords and hired goons. Furthermore, between
2012 and 2013, there was a 4.6 percent increase in the number of cases filed by
resistant landowners at the Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board.
Land grabbing and land use conversions are intensifying even in landholdings that
have been covered for distribution thus denying the rights of potential agrarian reform
beneficiaries to own and control the land. These are misappropriated for nonagricultural purposes such as real estate development, tourism, mining, and special
economic zones by foreign and domestic land speculators such as influential politicians,
local governments and giant property developers like Ayala Land, SM, and Villars Vista
Land and Lifescapes. The more prominent examples are the cases of Sumalo, Plaridel,
Sicogon and Casiguran. Also violative of agrarian reform ideals is the entry of
investments in various agreements and contracts like joint ventures, leasehold, publicprivate partnership (PPP) and the aggressive expansion of crops for agrofuels
(biofuels)[22] setting aside thousands of hectares of land for plantation activities under
large-scale agribusiness production and management arrangements.
3. The Agrarian Situation[23]
Agrarian reform has been a highly political issue for centuries, a factor that
contributed to its sluggish performance in every regime in the last century. The
historical records of agrarian reform programs were believed to be implemented as a
social justice measure in order to change the prevailing situation of unjust and

____________________
[22]
Focus on the Global South (with the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance), The State of Agrarian Reform Under
President Benigno Aquino IIIs Government: Beyond the Numbers: A struggle for social justice and inclusive rural
development, (Focus on the global south-Philippines: Quezon City. 2013.
[23]

Eduardo Climaco Tadem. May 2015. Philippine Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century. Land grabbing,
conflict and agrarianenvironmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. An international
academic conference 56 June 2015, Chiang Mai University Discussion Note No. 2.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

18

equitable ownership of land and resources by a few individuals in the society[24].


The rural peasants struggles remained the potent force at the grassroots level
in the different regimes that led to the undertaking of agrarian reform beginning from
the Spanish colonialism up to the Aquino presidency[25]. With agricultural lands that had
been in the possession of a few powerful landlords and corporations, for centuries the
majority of people remained as tenants, farm workers and landless agricultural
laborers, a reality that has contributed to the poverty in the countryside for long
time[26]. It was viewed that agricultural development policies of the government had
been unresponsive to the needs of the peasantry as a whole for many decades [27].
The apparent exploitative agrarian structure intensified the claims for agrarian
reform. It was in 1988, under the government of President Corazon Aquino, that
Republic Act 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL),
set in motion the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
(CARP). Upon her ascension into power in 1986, President Aquino envisioned agrarian
and agrarian reform as the center-piece of her administrations social legislative agenda
which took effect two years after the peaceful People Power Revolution and the end
of the Marcos authoritarian rule. Its fundamental principle and slogan was land-to-thetiller.[28] Under this law, agrarian reform becomes a major component of agrarian
reform.
Agrarian reform was originally meant to restore the dignity and improve the lives
of the then 10 million-strong rural labor force by transforming them into ownercultivators and productive citizens, the watered-down CARP/ER and its skewed
implementation have instead aggravated rural inequalities and brought about
____________________
[24]

Putzel, James. 1995. Managing the Main Force: The Communist Party and the Peasantry in the
Philippines. Journal of Peasant Studies, 22 (4): 64571.
[25]

Hayami, Yujiro et. al. 1990. Toward an Alternative Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective.
Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
[26]

Lindio-McGovern, Ligaya. 1997. Filipino Peasant Women: Exploitation and Resistance. USA: University
of Pennsylvania Press.
[27]

Ibid.

[28]

Land-to-the tiller essentially means that those who directly labor and till the land have the right to own
it (Lindio-Mcgovern 1997: 145).
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

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stagnation in the countryside. It is estimated that 75 percent of the countrys poor live
in the rural areas.
Given the official rural poverty incidence of 38 percent (compared to 14 percent
for urban areas), there are at least 13 million rural-dwelling Filipinos suffering in
poverty. Of the countrys poor households, 61 percent are in the agricultural and fishery
sectors. Poverty incidence is highest among farmers at 41 percent and fisher folk at 37
percent compared to the national poverty incidence of 27 percent.
From 2009 to 2012, more people in the countryside entered subsistence poverty
(125,724) than nationally (107,877). Despite CARP/ERs avowed goal of redistributing
land, and although many beneficiaries have become owner-cultivators, inequities in
land distribution have been increasing with the land inequality ratio today peaking at
0.57, up from 0.53 in 1960. Furthermore the agricultural sectors labor productivity is
only 16 percent that of industrial workers and 31 percent of service workers.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

20

III. THE EVOLUTION OF PHILIPPINE AGRARIAN REFORM


After nearly four centuries of colonial rule, the Philippines inherited a land
tenure system which benefitted mainly the landed oligarchy and subjected the rural
population to virtual serfdom through the sharecropping system and other forms of
tenant farming. After Philippine independence in 1946, successive governments
introduced a variety of laws and regulations to improve the lot of the tenant farmers
and small landholders.
With the development of the chaotic situation in the 1960s which led to the
imposition of martial law in 1972, a new sense of urgency was added to heighten the
need for serious reforms of land tenure law. As a result, sweeping decrees were
pronounced by the government of President Ferdinand Marcos. This article will attempt
to review and analyze the legal and policy developments in this area which is vital to
the economic and social stability of the Philippines.

A. Colonial Era Land Tenure


The present land tenure system in the Philippines is mainly the result of several
centuries of Spanish colonial rule which displaced or discouraged small native
landholders and concentrated land ownership in the hands of a relatively small number
of wealthy Spanish and Filipino individuals, families and associations. The displaced
native landowners became largely sharecroppers or hired labor on the lands acquired
by the Spanish, mestizo and Filipino elites.[29]
Unrest among the rural population, resulting from Spanish colonial abuses was
one of the central causes of the Filipino revolution in 1896. However, the expectations
of the landless peasants and their leaders were subverted when, soon after the Spanish
had been expelled, the landowning Filipino aristocracy took control of the national
____________________
[29]

Bauzon, Philippine Agrarian Reform, 1880-1975, Occasional Paper No. 31, Institute of Southeast Asian
Studies (June 1975).
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

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leadership. This co-optation of the revolution delayed attempts at meaningful agrarian


reform legislation for several decades longer.[30]
In the post-Hispanic era, the Homestead Act of 1902, enacted by the Philippines
Commission on the model of the earlier legislation passed in the United States, served
as the basis of attempts at agrarian reform. The American policy was to encourage
settlers to develop and cultivate public land by offering plots not exceeding 24
hectares, to individuals who succeeded in cultivating one-fifth of the land within five
years. The American program for distributing vacant public land to the landless was
apparently not too successful because it proved to be culturally and socially ill-adapted
to the -needs and capabilities of the small farmer or rural peasant.[31]
During the transitory Commonwealth period and continuing through the 1950s,
very little progress was made in the direction of agrarian reform. The Filipino elite
which had assumed control of the government after disengagement of the Americans
consisted mainly of large landholders and their allies, with a vested interest in blocking
serious reforms. The government of Manuel Quezon enacted legislation for use in
expropriating large hacienda landholdings for distribution to rural sharecroppers and
peasants, but the authority to expropriate was never effectively exercised. [32]

B. Post-Independence Era Developments


In 1963, the first comprehensive legislative program for agrarian reform was
passed by the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. [33] The Agrarian reform Code
declared for the first time that the sharecrop system of tenancy was counter to public
policy and that it shall be abolished.[34] However, even this seemingly unequivocal
statement of policy was qualified by important exceptions. Existing sharecrop
____________________
[30]

Bauzon, Philippine Agrarian Reform, 1880-1975, Occasional Paper No. 31, Institute of Southeast Asian
Studies (June 1975).
[31]

Id. at 12.

[32]

See Pinpin, ED., Philippine Laws on Agrarian Reform (1973) ,

[33]

Rep. Act No. 3844 (1963). This Act is commonly known as the Agrarian reform Code of 1963.

[34]

Agrarian reform Code, sec. 4,

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

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arrangements were allowed to continue, subject to the provisions of the Agricultural


Tenancy Act of 1954, as amended.[35]
The other important exception to the Agrarian reform Code's application was the
exemption of lands devoted to crops covered by marketing allotments for international
trade. Under this provision, lands cultivated for important crops like sugar and coconuts
were not affected. A separate proclamation was to be issued to cover agrarian reform
for these types of agricultural land.
The Agrarian reform Code, though riddled with important exceptions, was the
first real attempt to create a comprehensive legislative basis for agrarian reform in the
Philippines. In the regions where it applied, an organized "agricultural leasehold system"
was created, establishing definite rights and duties for lessee and lessor. A "Bill of
Rights" for agricultural laborers was also included in the Agrarian reform Code.
Centralized administrative machinery set up by the Code included a Land Authority,
Land Bank, Agricultural Credit Administration, Courts of Agrarian Relations, Office of
Agrarian Counsel and the National Agrarian reform Council to coordinate these and
other agencies involved in agrarian reform.
The revolutionary approach to agrarian reform adopted by the Agrarian reform
Code was thwarted in the end by inter-agency competition and political infighting
during the turbulent 1960s.[36] The central reason for conflict was that, rather than
stating outright which land areas in the country would be governed by its provisions,
the Agrarian reform Code required that agrarian reform areas be proclaimed. A
complicated procedure, involving cooperation among the several agencies concerned
with agrarian reform, had to be followed before any proclamation could be effected.
Lack of coordination and cooperation among the agencies resulted in a fragmentation
of authority which immobilized the whole agrarian reform program.[37]
____________________
[35]

Rep. Act No. 1199 (1954) ["Tenancy Act"]. This law sets the maximum rental payable by a sharecrop
tenant at 30% of the crop and, as amended in 1959, allows the tenant to convert unilaterally to a leasehold tenancy.
[36]

Seadag, Agrarian reform in the Philippines, Rural Development Panel Seminar, Baguio, Philippines, April
24-26, 1975, at II.
[37]

Id.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

23

C. Recent Agrarian reform Law Developments


In September 1971, the Agrarian reform Code itself was reformed. The
bureaucratic morass of competing agencies which had developed since 1963 resulted in
increasing pressure for a more centralized administration of the government agrarian
reform program. On September 10, 1971, the Code of Agrarian Reform of the
Philippines[38] was enacted to amend substantially the administrative apparatus
created by the Agrarian reform Code. Under the new Agrarian Code, a central
Department of Agrarian Reforms ("DAR") was established. The new law thereby
eliminated the interagency conflict and complicated agrarian reform proclamation
process which had existed under the Agrarian reform Code.
The basic objective of converting sharecrop tenants into leasehold tenants,
introduced in the Agrarian reform Code, was also adopted in the Agrarian Code.
Additionally, Section 4 of the new Code provided for an automatic conversion of all
sharecrop agreements to leaseholds by operation of law, for those types of land
affected by the Code. The Agrarian Code, like the earlier Agrarian reform Code, still
applied only to certain types of agricultural land. Those lands not covered, which are
mainly those devoted to crops covered by marketing allotments, continue to be subject
to the Tenancy Act.
The basic problem with the new Agrarian Code, as with the Agrarian reform
Code, was one of supervision and enforcement. Ensuring that all sharecrop tenancies
are actually converted to leasehold tenancies has proved to be a very difficult task.
Even if the legal status of agrarian land is formally converted, a recalcitrant landlord
may be able to deny the farmer the full benefits intended. This gap between the
pronouncements of formal legislation and the realities for the tenant appears to be the
main reason why the legislative reforms introduced between 1963 and 1972 to bring
about meaningful agrarian reform achieved relatively little progress.

____________________
[38]

Rep. Act 6389 (1971) ["Agrarian Code"].

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

24

D. Agrarian reform Program After Martial Law


Shortly after the declaration of martial law in the Philippines in Sept. 1972, a
series of Presidential Decrees on agrarian reform were pronounced.[39] The first of
these, Pres. Decree No. 2,[40] was issued to ensure equality of application of the agrarian
reform laws for all regions in the country. It declared the entire territory of the
Philippines an agrarian reform area. As a result, the types of agricultural land covered
by the Agrarian Code in all the country's regions became subject to agrarian reform.
In a significant departure from the earlier government agrarian reform policy,
Pres. Decree No. 27 [41] was pronounced to convert small fanners who had been tenants
into owners of the land they cultivated. Under Pres. Decree No. 27, eligible tenant
farmers receive a Land Transfer Certificate, issued by the Secretary of Agrarian Reform,
for the land they occupy and cultivate, up to a maximum three hectares if irrigated or
five hectares if unirrigated land.
Though it goes further than the Agrarian Code in terms of property rights vested
in the small farmer, Pres. Decree No. 27 remains subject to several important
limitations. Chief among these is the fact that the new owners of the land must still
pay for it. This aspect of Pres. Decree No. 27 creates a new creditor-debtor relationship
in place of the previous landlord-tenant relationship. In addition, property taxes,
Samahang Nayon (village cooperative) membership dues and a local guarantee fund
must now be paid by the tenant-owner. Furthermore, Pres. Decree No. 27 applies only
to those lands which are primarily devoted to rice and corn production under a
landlord-tenant system of land tenancy. In practice, this requirement has been
interpreted narrowly by the DAR to mean that land planted to other types of food crops
and land under plantation management should be excluded from agrarian reform under
Pres. Decree No. 27.
____________________
[39]

Agrarian Code, supra, note 10, remained in force except as modified by these Decrees and other
executive orders.
[40]

Pres. Decree No. 2 (September 26, 1972), [P.D. No. 2]

[41]

Pres. Decree No. 27 (October 21, 1972) [P.D. No. 27]

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

25

Pres. Decree No. 27 provides that tenant farmers falling under its application are
to be:
... deemed owner of a portion [of land] constituting a familysize farm of five (5) hectares if not irrigated and three (3)
hectares if ' irrigated.
No guidelines are provided in Pres. Decree No. 27 or any of its amendments for
the determination of which three or five hectares plots are to be transferred in Cases
where the tenant is cultivating an area larger than the maximum. A general formula is
provided, however, to assist in determining the price of any land to be expropriated,
as follows:
...the value of the land shall be equivalent to two and
one-half (2%) times the average' harvest of three normal years
immediately preceding the promulgation of [PD. No. 27].
The total price of the land expropriated for the benefit of tenants, as determined
by the above formula, is to be paid by the individual tenant who acquires the land.
Payment may be made over 15 years, in 15 equal annual amortization payments,
including 6% interest per annum. Local farmers' cooperatives act as guarantors of the
amortization payments, in case of a default by their member farmers. In addition, Pres.
Decree No. 27 requires that the government guaranty the amortization payments
with shares of stock in government-owned and government-controlled corporations.
In order to secure the land transfer transaction more adequately, the Land Bank of the
of the Philippines, created by the Agrarian Code, has in practice compensated the
landowner and acted as an interim owner of the land during the amortization period.
The goals behind this policy are to minimize mortgage defaults, provide the landowner
with substantial immediate payment and eliminate the pernicious dependent
relationship between the tenant-owner and former landlord.[42]
____________________
[42]

Harkin, D., Strengths and Weaknesses of the Philippine Land. SEADAG Papers on Problems of
Development in S.E. Asia (May 1975).
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

26

Although the Land Bank acquires agrarian reform acreage as interim owner, the
former landowner still does not receive immediate full payment in cash. An option is
provided for the landowner to elect immediate full payment of 10% of the land value
in cash and 90% in Land Bank bonds rather than using the Pres. Decree No. 27
amortization formula. This lessens the effect of inflation, which would reduce the
return to the landowner over a IS-year amortization period at the artificially low 6%
interest rate set by Pres. Decree No. 27. Most landowners affected by Pres. Decree No.
27 have in fact chosen this immediate payment option, according to the DAR.
After the small farmer has completed his payments to the Land Bank under Pres.
Decree No. 27, he has a perfected land title. However, title to the land may be
transferred subsequently only to the government or one heir.[43] This rather
paternalistic restriction is aimed at preventing the new owner from losing his title and
becoming a tenant again or from splitting the land up among many heirs into
uneconomic ally small units. Although Pres. Decree No. 27 made enforcement of
agrarian reform potentially easier to institute and enforce, the actual economic benefit
may not be as great as would seem for all types of tenants. Former leasehold tenants,
who gained significant rights under the Agrarian Code, would only benefit marginally if
at all from Pres. Decree No. 27. This seems to be the case because as owners they
would continue to make virtually the same payments during the IS-year amortization
period which they had as lessees. Under the Pres. Decree No. 27 scheme the former
leasehold tenants would also be faced with taxes and other charges, which would be
payable in addition to their amortization payments. Thus, it is questionable whether
the leasehold tenant should find the Pres. Decree No. 27 land ownership more favorable
economically than his secured leasehold under the Agrarian Code. The Pres. Decree No.
27 land transfer formula apparently was developed to benefit mainly sharecrop tenants
who did not have the security of land tenure afforded the leasehold tenant. However,
in the process of improving the lot of the sharecrop tenant, the leasehold tenant's
position was perhaps worsened.
____________________
[43]

Harkin, D., Strengths and Weaknesses of the Philippine Land. SEADAG Papers on Problems of
Development in S.E. Asia (May 1975).
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

27

Presidential Decree No. 27 contained other important ambiguities and gaps


which needed rectification through supplemental rules and regulations. By November
1972 a reasonably complete set of draft regulations had been prepared by the DAR for
use in implementing Pres. Decree No. 27.[44] Since no complete set of implementing
regulations have been adopted under Pres. Decree No. 27 to date, the draft regulations
have served as the only guidelines available for use by the DAR and its field offices.[45]
The draft regulations clarified several of the most basic potential problem areas
inherent in Pres. Decree No. 27. The conflict between the right of the landowner who
cultivates his land to retain up to seven hectares and the tenant's right to own the
portion of the land cultivated by him, was resolved by a compromise solution. Under
the draft regulations, the tenant may not be ejected from the landowner's retained
seven hectares until other land is made available to him. [46] This solution, while
maintaining the status quo, still fails to give the tenant the full benefit of owning the
land he cultivates. Instead, the status quo is maintained while the tenant waits in
uncertainty for relocation to a different, perhaps less desirable, plot of land.
Regarding the size of land tracts for purposes of transfer to tenants, the draft
regulations provided that all land owned by several members of a family was in effect
under joint ownership. Thus, any land owned by a family would be considered as a
single unit for purposes of Pres. Decree No. 27, unless subdivision or transfer of parts
of the land had been duly effected and registered before the issuance of Pres. Decree
No. 27.[47]
In his way, large landholders were prevented from utilizing the artifice of
dividing their land among family members into parcels too small to be covered by Pres.
Decree No. 27. Also, the draft regulations require a permit for changes in crops from
____________________
[44]

Harkin, D., Strengths and Weaknesses of the Philippine Land. SEADAG Papers on Problems of
Development in S.E. Asia (May 1975).
[45]

Id. See also Presidential Memorandum of November 25, 1972 (instructing the DAR to postpone
promulgation of the draft regulations).
[46]

Harkin, supra, note 14, at 5.

[47]

See DAR Memorandum of January 9, 1973.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

28

rice or corn to some crops not covered by Pres. Decree No. 27. Thus, landowners may
not circumvent the law by changing to sugarcane or coconuts; crops for which sharecrop
tenancy is still allowed under the Tenancy Act. These changes effectively eliminated
the possibilities for legitimate landowner circumvention of the law.
The actual implementation of Pres. Decree No. 27 has been relatively slow.
Transfer of 'lands down to the seven hectare cut-off point was required in stages of
100, 50, 24 and, finally, seven hectare plot, respectively. [48] However, the final decision
to extend land transfer down to the seven hectare limit was not announced until
November 1974.[49] Statistics indicate that most of the potential tenant beneficiaries
are located on plots of less than 24 hectares.[50] Thus, extension of agrarian reform
benefit to the largest number of tenants was not actually required until two years after
the issuance of Pres. Decree No. 27.
Another practical difficulty which has arisen with Pres. Decree No. 27, concerns
valuation of the land to be purchased by the tenant farmer. Apparently, the Pres.
Decree No. 27 formula[51] for pricing land was never exactly applied, although the
necessary data on crop values were collected by DAR field technicians.[52] For
undisclosed reasons, but most likely due to landowner pressure, the DAR has issued an
order instructing its field offices to fix the price of land by face-to-face bargaining,
between landowner and tenant. Reversing the Pres. Decree No. 27 formula, this
bargained price was to be used to determine the value of average harvests from the
land. After being multiplied by 2.5, as required by Pres. Decree No. 27, the harvest
price would then yield the already fixed land purchase price. Obviously, this procedure
is less favorable for the tenant and more favourable for the landowner because of the
greater bargaining power of the latter. It also seems to be a curiously subjective
____________________
[48]

DAR Memorandum of January 2, 1973.

[49]

Harkin, supra, note 14, at 8. This decision was confirmed by the government in May 1975.

[50]

Id. at 11.

[51]

See p. 6, supra.

[52]

Harkin, supra, note 14, at 7. See Letter of Instruction No. 41 (November 27, 1972), which ordered the
collection of the necessary data. See also Letters of Instructions Nos. 45, 46 and 52 (1972).
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

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application of the Pres. Decree No. 27 formula, which is aimed at achieving some
objective determination of land values.
The two main shortcomings of Pres. Decree No. 27 and of the subsequent
Presidential Decrees amending it,[53] lie in the failure to go beyond reform of a small
part of the agricultural land in the Philippines and then lack of adherence to policy
objectives in the drafting of implementing regulations. The DAR has calculated that the
full implementation of Pres. Decree No. 27, all the way down to land plots of seven
hectares or more, would only benefit about 956,000 tenants occupying a land area of
1.5 million hectares.[54] This would represent only a fraction of the total agricultural
land area of the Philippines. Furthermore, there is uncertainty even as to how far the
already narrowed scope of Pres. Decree No. 27 will be pressed by the DAR. Letter of
Instruction No. 143, in fact, proposed a list of exempt categories for certain types of
landholdings between seven and 24 hectares.[55]
It should be noted that, even as drafted, Pres. Decree No. 27 encompasses less
land area than the Agrarian Code, as amended. The basic problem for the government
in the future will be how to continue extending the agrarian reform law, on the model
of Pres. Decree No. 27, to reach a larger number of tenant beneficiaries and ultimately
to cover all types of agricultural land throughout the entire land area of the Philippines.
A new agrarian reform code has been drafted by the DAR and is currently under
____________________
[53]

The five Presidential Decree amendments to P.D. No. 27 were :


-

Pres. Decree No. 57 (October 21, 1972) establishing commercial loans and other credit and
guarantee facilities to finance tenant land purchases;
Pres. Decree No. 84 (December 22, 1972~ authorizing the Secretary of Agrarian Reforms to sign
land transfer certificates for the President;
Pres, Decree No. 85 (December 24, 1972) creating the Agrarian Reform Fund, consisting of the
government-owned stock and assets in certain public corporations;
Pres. Decree No. 152 (March 13, 1973) prohibiting use- of share tenants on lands covered by the
Public Land Act;
Pres. Decree No. 266 (August 4, 1973) setting registration procedures for Land Transfer Certificates
issued under Pres. Decree No. 27.

[54]

Harkin, supra, note 14, at 2.


For example, possible types of exemptions suggested by Letter of Instruction No. 143 (1973), included
those for resident owners, retired government employees and landowners deriving their entire income from land
rentals. Uncertainty about whether the President will grant these exemptions has resulted in a DAR policy of
postponing action on land plots smaller than 24 hectares.
[55]

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

30

consideration by the government.[56] It will be interesting' to see whether the beginning


made by Pres. decree No. 27 will be consolidated and extended if and when the new
code is enacted.

E. Is Agrarian reform a Failure in the Philippines?[57]


Agrarian reform programs have been enacted 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. Let alone the high record of adjudication cases and court proceedings related
to agrarian 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 agrarian
reform laws and programs in the country. Agrarian reform has become a polity reality,
and the politics played a significant role on the various policies & programs undertaken
in each regime more than the true concern of the plight of landless poor people.
The existing agrarian 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
____________________
[56]

Harkin, supra, note 14, at 6.

[57]

Is Agrarian reform a Failure in the Philippines? An Assessment on CARP. Limits of Good Governance in
Developing Countries.
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

31

time. While 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 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) are available, though a
thorough evaluation is necessary especially in correlating this to agrarian poverty issue.
But this success was only made possible because of external help and favorable
circumstances. In the post-agrarian reform regime, supportive institutions and inputs,
as part of agrarian 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. Agrarian 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 agrarian reform, in the future, however, more and more
agricultural households can no longer secure their livelihood from the land. In the postreform regime, as the case of many developing countries now, agrarian 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 wellbeing 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.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

32

IV. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF AGRARIAN REFORM


Philippine history is marked by several major epochs including: prehispanic era;
about 300 years under Spanish colony (1565-1898); about 40 years under United States
rule (1898-1941); four years of Japanese occupation (1941-1945); and Independence
since 1946. All these epochs influenced culture and society in a way that affected the
land distribution. In essence, land distribution tended to become concentrated in
landed elites and large masses of peasants were displaced and became landless. [58]

A. Pre-Hispanic Era: Communal Ownership


The indigenous land-tenure arrangements in pre-Hispanic Philippine society were
characterized by communal ownership of land. Individual families had usufruct rights
to a parcel of land. In return families were required to perform various public services,
often consisting of assisting the datu in the tending of his fields and home. [59] There are
also indications that the Philippine social system in pre-Hispanic times was feudal like,
with a warrior class loyal to warlords. This class lived on the labor of serfs and slaves
in exchange for protection. The datus (chiefs) comprised the nobility who reigned over
a barangays. The serfs served a master or lord, who may have been a datu, and tilled
his land. Both master and serf equally divided the produce of the land. The serfs
corresponded to the aparceros (tenants) of the late 19th century Spanish era. The slaves
served both the lord and master in both his house and farm. They were allowed some
share of the harvest, but they were their masters property. In the subsistence economy
of the early Filipinos, rice served as the medium of exchange. [60]

____________________
[58]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[59]

Riedinger, Jeffrey M. Agrarian reform in the Philippines: democratic transitions and redistributive
reform. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995. 366 p.
[60]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

33

B. Effects of Spanish Colonialism


Fernando de Magellan landed in the island of Cebu in 1521 and claimed the land
for Spain. In 1565 Spain took control of the islands and named them in honor of Philip
II of Spain, who reigned from 1556 to 1598.[61]
During the Spanish colonial period, the concept of private land ownership was
introduced by the Spanish colonial government. Vast tracts of land were granted to
Spanish soldiers as reward for their loyal service to the Spanish Crown. Lands were also
divided and granted to encourage Spanish settlers.
These were called encomiendas. Encomiendas were granted in exchange of
defending the land from external attack, maintain peace and order within, and support
the tasks of the missionaries. The encomendero acquired the right to collect tribute
from the natives. The tributes soon became land rents, and the people living within the
boundaries of the encomienda became tenants. The encomenderos became the first
hacendados in the country. Religious orders, mainly Dominc and Augustin became
owners of vast tracts of friar land which was leased to natives and mestizos. Meanwhile
the colonial government took the place of the datus. The datu was now called cabeza
de barangay, but it was the proprietors of the estates who held the real power in the
barangay or community.[62] Thus the most significant Spanish innovation concerning
property rights was the introduction of the concept of legal title to land, that is
private ownership.[63] These systems resulted to the accumulation of lands in the
possession of the elites and the dispossession of the mass of peasants of the land that
they and their ancestors had been tilling from time immemorial.

____________________
[61]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[62]

Ibid.

[63]

Riedinger, Jeffrey. 1995. Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. USA: Stanford University Press.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

34

1. Spanish Friars
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. [64] The few reports about pre-Hispanic
times suggested that there had been some kind of social stratification and that
individual private property of land did not exist.[65] The first group of people that were
able to concentrate a large amount of land in its hands was the Spanish friars. [66] They
were beneficiaries of a series of royal land grants from the Spanish Crown. In later
times, the friars were able to enlarge their properties through lands passed to them by
way of mortgage claims and outright land grabbing, including donations or purchases
from Spanish laymen in the late seventeenth century. [67]
2. Encomienda System
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. [68] 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. [69] However,
this encomienda system had already vanished from the islands before the
____________________
[64]

Putzel, James. 1995. Managing the Main Force: The Communist Party and the Peasantry in the
Philippines. Journal of Peasant Studies, 22 (4): 64571.
[65]

Putzel, James. 1992. A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo
de Manila University Press
[66]

Roth, Dennis. 1977. The Friar Estates of the Philippines. USA: University of New Mexico Press.

[67]

Constantino, Renato and Letizia R. Constantino. 1978. The Philippines: The Continuing Past. Philippines:
The Foundation for Nationalist Studies.
[68]

Roth, Dennis. 1977. The Friar Estates of the Philippines. USA: University of New Mexico Press.

[69]

Constantino, Renato. 1975. The Philippines: A Past Revisited. Philippines: The Foundation for Nationalist

Studies.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

35

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 natives or Spaniards who had been officials in
the early colonial administration such as tribute collectors. [70]
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. [71] 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.[72] 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 into 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. [73]
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 colonial time.[74]
In his arguments, Putzel[75][76] did not emphasize the differences and similarities
____________________
[70]

Riedinger, Jeffrey. 1995. Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. USA: Stanford University Press.

[71]

Putzel, James. 1992. A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo
de Manila University Press.
[72]

Constantino, Renato. 1975. The Philippines: A Past Revisited. Philippines: The Foundation for Nationalist

Studies.
[73]

Ibid.

[74]

Putzel, James. 1992. A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo
de Manila University Press.
[75]

Putzel, James. 1992. A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo
de Manila University Press.
[76]

Putzel, James. 1995. Managing the Main Force: The Communist Party and the Peasantry in the
Philippines. Journal of Peasant Studies, 22 (4): 64571.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

36

between land laborers and tenant-farmers within the framework of agrarian 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
agrarian reform laws.[77]
3. The Hacienda System
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.[78] Meanwhile, at the beginning of the 19th century,
the Philippines as a colony of Spain implemented policies that would mainstream the
country into the world of capitalism. The economy was opened to the world market as
exporter of raw materials and importer of finished goods. The agricultural exports were
mandated and hacienda system was developed as a new form of ownership. [79] More
people lost their lands and were forced to become tillers. In the end, these haciendas
were found to be most resistant to agrarian reform measures and some of them are still
due for redistribution up to now.[80]
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.[81] They are still influencing much of

____________________
[77]

Jose Elvina. Is Agrarian reform A Failure in the Philippines? An Assesment on CARP. Part 3: Limits of
Good Governance in Various Facets of Developments.
[78]

Putzel, James. 1992. A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo
de Manila University Press.
[79]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[80]

Carranza, Danilo T. 2004. Hacienda Luisita Massacre: A Tragedy Waiting to Happen. Unpublished.

[81]

Regalado, Aurora A. 2000. States Failure to Fulfill and Defend its Citizens Right to Food: The Philippine
Experience. Unpublished.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

37

the nations economy, political and social life, owning many of the biggest enterprises
of the Philippines.[82] This justifies on why agrarian reform takes centuries old, as the
elites passed on all this power to succeeding generations, a clear manifestation of
economic and political dynasty combined. Agrarian 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.[83]

C. The End of Spanish Colonial Rule and the American Influence


Three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule ended with the Philippine war of
Independence in 1896. The skewed agrarian structure of the country has long been a
major problem, which originated from its 400-year history of colonization. Unequal land
distribution and, worse, landlessness, following the establishment of the haciendas and
the encomienda system during the Spanish period gave rise to numerous peasant
uprisings.[84] The feudal system established by the Spanish government which enslaved
the peasant class by Spanish landowners have brought suffering to the former. This
aggravated the desire of the Filipino peasants to explode the Philippine Revolution.
The revolutionary government confiscated the large landed estates, especially
the friar lands and declared these as properties of the government. [85] Philippine
independence however, was lost to the United States- a casualty of the SpanishAmerican war in 1898. The United States involvement with Spains other major colony,
____________________
[82]

Ibid. pp 22.

[83]

Jose Elvina. Is Agrarian reform A Failure in the Philippines? An Assesment on CARP. Part 3: Limits of
Good Governance in Various Facets of Developments
[84]

Celia M. Reyes. Impact of Agrarian Reform on Poverty. Philippine Journal of Development, Number 54,
Volume XXIX, No. 2, Second Semester 2002
[85]

Malolos Constitution, 1896, Article XVII

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

38

Cuba, brought an interest in the Philippines. At the beginning Filipino forces, under the
leadership of Aguinaldo, joined the Americans in the fight against Spain. However, once
Spain was defeated there was no support for Philippine independence from the part of
the United States. The American influence in the Philippines lasted for another four
decades. The American influence era saw little change in the patterns of elitedominated politics in the Philippines. Although colonial administrators acknowledged
the negative consequences of the prevailing patterns of landownership and distribution
of wealth, little was done to address these issues. [86]

____________________
[86]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

39

V. THE FAILURES OF 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. [87]
Realizing that being landless was the main cause of social unrest and revolt at
that time, the Americans sought to put an end to the miserable conditions of the tenant
tillers and small farmers by passing several land policies to widen the base of small
landholdings and distribute land ownership among the greater number of Filipino
tenants and farmers.[88] The American initiatives on agrarian reform were 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.[89]

A. The William Howard Taft Administration


The first effort, initiated during The William H. Taft administration, was able to
purchase 166,000 hectares of friar landholdings to be distributed to about 60,000
tenants. However, it has been reported that because of the tenants ignorance of the
law and the colonial governments policy of selling the lands at a very high price, the
bulk of these estates went to American firms, businessmen, and landlords.[90] In
addition, due to high amortization fees that small-scale farmers could not afford to
pay, these estates were purchased by the landed wealthy elites. [91]
____________________
[87]
Hayami, Yujiro et. al. 1990. Toward an Alternative Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective.
Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
[88]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[89]

Hayami, Yujiro et. al. 1990. Toward an Alternative Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective.
Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
[90]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
[91]

Constantino, Renato. 1975. The Philippines: A Past Revisited. Philippines: The Foundation for Nationalist

Studies.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

40

B. Philippine Bill of 1902


This law provided regulations on the disposal of public lands wherein a private
individual can own 16 hectares of land while the corporate land holdings can avail of 1,
024 hectares. This also gave the rights to the Americans to own agricultural lands.[92]
The fact that a landholding comprising of 22,484 hectares could be purchased by
the Sugar Trust Company in 1910, eight years after the Philippine Bill of 1902, despite
the prohibition of landholdings larger than 1,024 hectares, shows that it was not
completely implemented.[93] As a consequence, big plantations emerged 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 traditional haciendas in Luzon. [94] These
developments are still visible in the agricultural structure today, with commercial
farming concentrating on cash crops in the South, in contrast to an agriculture that
ismarked by small-scale farming and some traditional haciendas in the North.[95]

C. The Torrens System


The Introduction of the Torrens System of land titling during the American
colonial period made matters worse for the Filipino peasants. This led mainly to the
transfer of ownership of hundreds of thousands of hectares from the Spanish friars into
the hands of the Filipino elite. This system of land titling only paved the way for massive
land-grabbing. Members of the local elite who had government positions or who knew
owning elite. Subsequently, the introduction of capitalism and the initiations of the
people in government acquired titles or large areas of land that were then being
cultivated by poor peasants. The Spanish masters were thus replaced by a Filipino land____________________
[92]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[93]

Constantino, Renato and Letizia R. Constantino. 1978. The Philippines: The Continuing Past.
Philippines: The Foundation for Nationalist Studies.
[94]

Hayami, Yujiro et. al. 1990. Toward an Alternative Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective.
Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
[95]

Hayami, Yujiro et. al. 1990. Toward an Alternative Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective.
Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

41

Philippines into the export trade raised the premium for vast landholdings for
production of export crops like tobacco and sugar.[96]

D. Homestead Program of 1903


The Homesteading Program, also by the American administration, encouraged
the migration and settling of Filipinos to unpopulated and uncultivated in an effort to
help develop these places.[97] This program allowed an enterprising tenant to acquire a
farm of at least 16 hectares to cultivate.[98] However, the program did not succeed
since Filipinos preferred to stay in sitios and poblaciones.[99] The program was not
implemented nationwide and was introduced only in some parts of Mindanao and
Northern Luzon, where there were available public alienable and disposable lands. [100]

E. The Friar Lands Act of 1904


The Friar Lands Act of 1904 dispossessed the friars of their vast landholdings.
Friar Land Act or Act. No. 1120 provided the administrative and temporary leasing and
selling of friar lands to its tillers.[101] These lands were supposed to be distributed to
tenants but because they (tenants) could not afford to purchase land, these lands
eventually fell into the hands of the local ruling elites who had exclusive access to
financial resources.[102]

____________________
[96]

AKBAYAN. Agrarian Reform. History of the Agrarian Reform Struggle. Historical Roots of Landlessness
and Rural Poverty. A Struggle for Social Justice: An Imperative for Development.
[97]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
[98]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[99]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
[100]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
[101]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[102]

AKBAYAN. Agrarian Reform. History of the Agrarian Reform Struggle. Historical Roots of Landlessness
and Rural Poverty. A Struggle for Social Justice: An Imperative for Development.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

42

F. The Rice Tenancy Act


The Rice Tenancy Act of 1933 (Public Act No. 4054) was the first tenancy reform
bill passed by the American administration. This Act provided for a 50-50 sharing
arrangement between the tenant and the landowner, a 10 percent interest ceiling on
loans by the tenants and the non-dismissal of tenants on tenuous grounds. One of the
provisions, however, was that the majority of the municipal council members should
petition for the implementation of the law in their place.[103] It is unclear how many
Councils did indeed petition such implementation but there is evidence that
governments favored ameliorative measures rather than redistributive ones.[104]

G. Succeeding Tenancy Acts


The Rice Tenancy Act was the first of a row of tenancy reform bills to come with
succeeding Tenancy Acts, such as, the Commonwealth Act 178 and 461, the Tenancy
Act of 1946, and the 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, 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. [105] 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. [106]

____________________
[103]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Devt Studies.
[104]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[105]

Constantino, Renato and Letizia R. Constantino. 1978. The Philippines: The Continuing Past.
Philippines: The Foundation for Nationalist Studies.
[106]

Jose Elvina. Is Agrarian reform A Failure in the Philippines? An Assesment on CARP. Part 3: Limits of
Good Governance in Various Facets of Developments.
Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking
Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

43

H. Other Agrarian Laws Introduced by the Americans


1. First Public Land Act or Act No. 926 provided rules and regulations for
selling and leasing portions of the public domain, completing defective
Spanish land titles, and canceling and confirming Spanish concessions.
2. Second Public Land Act of 1919 or Act 2874 limits the use of agricultural
lands to Filipinos, Americans and citizens of other countries.
3. Act. No. 141 amended the Second Public Act of 1919 or Act No. 2874. A
temporary provision of equality on the rights of American and Filipino
citizens and corporations. It also compiled all pre-existing laws relative to
public lands into a single instrument.
4. Sugarcane Tenancy Contracts Act of 1933 or Act No. 4113 regulated the
relationship of landlord and tenants in the sugarcane fields and required
tenancy contracts on land planted to sugarcane.
These land policies really did not helped the farmers situation.
It further worsened the land ownership situation, wherein
there was no limit on the size of landholdings one could
possess. Landholdings were once again concentrated in the
hands of fewer individuals who can afford to buy, register,
and acquire fixed titles of their properties. Hence, more
lands were placed under tenancy.[107]
There were widespread peasant uprisings, headed by the armed peasants groups
known as Colorum and Sakdalista of Luzon and Northeastern Mindanao respectively.
These uprisings resulted to social disorder in 1920s and 1930s. Hence, more militant
peasants and workers organizations bonded together for a more collective action
against the abuses of landlords and unjust landownership situation. This gave birth to
the Communist Party of the Philippines.[108]
____________________
[107]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[108]

Ibid.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

44

VI. GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES ON AGRARIAN REFORM


Agrarian reform reform initiatives of the government have been combinations of
(though not limited to) regulation on land tenancy, resettlement to public lands, and
appropriation and redistribution of private lands. [109]
Agrarian reform efforts to correct these inequalities have been traced back to
the Commonwealth period.[110] Since the Commonwealth period, among these three
broad categories of agrarian reform measures, governments in the past tended to rely
more heavily on the first two (tenancy regulation and resettlement) rather than on
the politically contentious land redistribution. However, as the relative scarcity of land
increased due to the closure of the frontier areas, and in response to the continuing
peasant unrest, redistributive agrarian reform has become increasingly high on policy
agenda more recently.[111]

A. What Triggered the Initiation of Philippine Agrarian Reform?


A Commonwealth was established in 1935 and the Nationalist Party of Manuel
Quezon dominated Philippine electoral politics until World War II. The tenancy and land
ownership situation during this period clearly shows that there is a need to initiate an
agrarian reform to address the cry of the poor peasants. Below are the tenancy and
land ownership situations[112] during the Commonwealth:
Contrasting economic and political lifestyle between tenant and the landlord
became very common. Landlords became richer and powerful while the
____________________
[109]

Nobuhiko Fuwa. May, 2000. Politics and Economics of Agrarian reform in the Philippines

[110]

The start of agrarian reform in the Philippines has been traced back to the break-up of friar lands in
1908. This was followed by other Acts that focused on tenancy reforms and resettlement on public lands. Tenancy
reforms involved regulations on contracts and landlord-tenant relations aimed at protecting tenants against abuses
by the landlords (Public Act 4054). On the other hand, resettlement involved the opening up of new settlement areas
and the purchase of friar lands for distribution to peasants. (Murray 1972 in Hayami and Kukuchi book 1981).
[111]

Nobuhiko Fuwa. May, 2000. Politics and Economics of Agrarian reform in the Philippines

[112]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

45

tenants were deprived of their rights and became poorer.


Absentee landowners increased. They preferred to go after new
opportunities in the cities and left their farms idle or to the management of
katiwalas. As a result, haciendas were poorly and unjustly managed.
A small plot of land cultivated by an average peasant farmer could not sustain
a decent living for the family.
Tenants and farmers shouldered excessive fines, unfair taxation and usury.
Systems for credit and marketing of rice were lacking thus, farmers received
a very low selling price.
Peasant uprising became widespread all over the country.
During the Commonwealth, problems with land tenure gave rise to armed
uprisings, such as the Colorum Revolt in 1931 and the Sakdal Revolt, mounted by
Benigno Ramos, in 1935. Quezon implemented a program of social justice and espoused
the concept of legal protection of tenants. These rebellions were responding to
deteriorating relations between landlords and tenants, as increasing population and
scarcity of land aggravated the already difficult situation of tenants. Efforts to address
these tensions were aborted during the Japanese occupation.[113]
During this occupation, peasants and workers organized the HUKBALAHAP
(Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon) on March 29, 1942 as an anti-Japanese group.
They took over vast tracts of land and gave the land and harvest to the people. For
them, the war was a golden opportunity for peoples initiative to push pro-poor
programs. Landlords were overpowered by the peasants but unfortunately at the end
of the war, through the help of the military police and civilian guards landlords were
able to retrieve their lands from the HUKBALAHAP.[114]
The issues of land distribution kept on emerging, especially after the Huk
rebellion. Because of the failure of past agrarian reform measures, the US prodded the
____________________
[113]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[114]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

46

Philippine government to conduct a comprehensive study of the agrarian situation. The


result was the Robert Hardie Report of 1952[115]. It contained the following three
recommendations:
i.

the abolition of the share tenancy;

ii.

the establishment of owner-operated family-sized farms as


the basis of the rural economy; and

iii.

the establishment of fair tenancy practices for those who


unavoidably continue to work on the land as tenants.

B. Manuel L. Quezon Administration (1935-1944)


The government under the stewardship of President Quezon realized that
agrarian reform programs should be implemented immediately. They saw the purchase
of friar lands as a possible way to solve the problem of inequitable land ownership.
They also saw that the Homestead program could be transformed into a massive
resettlement program, if properly implemented. [116]
The agrarian reform initiatives by the Philippine government since the 1950s are
broadly in line with the series of initiatives taken by President Manuel L. Quezons
administration (1935-41). More specifically, President Quezons initiatives included
regulation of tenancy relations, an anti-usury law, organized land settlement in
Mindanao for the landless of Luzon and Cebu, issuance of free patents to homesteaders
on cultivable public land, and a landed estates policy which provided funds for the
negotiated purchase of large holdings for resale to tenants. Strongly influenced by the
American agrarian reform policy at the time, the main focus was on resettlement and
tenancy regulation rather than on land redistribution. [117]
____________________
[115]

Riedinger, Jeffrey M. Agrarian reform in the Philippines: democratic transitions and redistributive
reform. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995.
[116]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013

[117]

Hayami, Yujiro, Ma. Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Lourdes S. Adreano (1990). Toward An Alternative
Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective. Ateneo de Manila University Press.
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47

President Quezon laid down a social justice program focused on the purchased
of large haciendas which were divided and sold to tenants. This administration was
responsible in establishing the National Rice and Corn Corporation (NARICC) and
assigning public defenders to assist peasants in court battles for their rights to till the
land. During this period, the Court of Industrial Relations (CIR), was set up to exercise
jurisdiction over disagreements arising from agri-workers and landowner relationship.
It was also during this time that the Rice Tenancy Act (Act No. 4054) was amended. [118]
1. Laws on Agrarian Reform during His Administration
a. RA 4054 or the Rice Tenancy Law was the first law on crop sharing which
legalized the 50-50 share between landlord and tenant with corresponding
support to tenants protecting them against abuses of landlords. However,
this law was hardly implemented because most of the municipal councils
were composed of powerful hacienderos and big landlords. In fact, only one
municipality passed a resolution for its enforcement and majorities have
petitioned its application to the Governor General.[119]
b. The 1935 Constitution, provided specific provisions on social justice and
expropriation of landed estates for distribution to tenants as a solution to
the land ownership and tenancy problems.[120]
c. Commonwealth Act No. 461 specified that dismissal of a tenant should first
have the approval of Tenancy Division of the Department of Justice.[121]
d. Commonwealth Act No. 608 was enacted to establish security of tenure
between landlord and tenant. It prohibited the common practice among
landowners of ejecting tenants without clear legal grounds. [122]

____________________
[118]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[119]

Ibid.

[120]

Ibid.

[121]

Ibid.

[122]

Ibid.

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C. Agrarian Reform Initiatives by Other Administrations


Because of the failure of past agrarian reform measures, the government came
up with the controversial Robert Hardie Report of 1952. It contained three
recommendations: a) the abolition of the share tenancy; b) the establishment of owneroperated family-sized farms as the basis of the rural economy; and c) the establishment
of fair tenancy practices for those who unavoidably continue to work on land as
tenants.[123] Unfortunately, these recommendations were not adopted by the Quirino
administration, which preferred instead to continue through the creation of the Land
Settlement and Development Corporation (LADESECO) the land resettlement program
of the National Land Settlement Administration (NSLA) under the American regime.
LADESECO and a number of legislations were also employed by the Magsaysay
administration in an attempt to solve the agrarian problems of Huk surrenderees.[124]
There were other efforts toward agrarian reform in the early 60s. One of these
was the Agrarian reform Code of 1963 (RA 384), which paved the way for the creation
of the Agricultural Credit Administration (ACA) and the Agricultural Productivity
Commission (APC). Both institutions were tasked to provide adequate support services
to the agrarian reform program, but due to mismanagement and manifest graft and
corruption, these entities failed to accomplish their mandate.[125]
1. Manuel A. Roxas Administration (1946-1948)
During this administration, here were interventions made related to agrarian
reform. Republic Act No. 34 was enacted to establish a 70-30 sharing arrangement
between tenant and landlord. The 70% of the harvest will go to the person who
shouldered the expenses for planting, harvesting and for the work animals. It also
reduced the interest of landowners loans to tenants at not more than 6%. President
____________________
[123]

Riedinger, Jeffrey M. Agrarian reform in the Philippines: democratic transitions and redistributive
reform. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995.
[124]

Adriano, L.S. 1991. A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. PIDS
Working Paper Series No. 91-13. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
[125]

Ibid.

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Roxas also negotiated for the purchase of 8,000 hectares of lands in Batangas owned by
the Ayala-Zobel family. These were sold to landless farmers.[126]
2. Elpidio Quirino Administration (1948-1953)
The major program of the Quirino administration regarding agrarian reform was
the Land Settlement Development Corporation (LASEDECO) through Executive Order No.
355. This program was established to accelerate and expand the peasant resettlement
program of the government.[127]
3. Ramon Magsaysay Administration (1953-1957)
President Magsaysay realized the importance of pursuing a more honest-togoodness agrarian reform program. He convinced the elite controlled congress to pass
several legislation to improve the agrarian reform situation, to wit[128]:
i.

R.A. No. 1199 (1954): Agricultural Tenancy Act basically governed


the relationship between landholders and tenant-farmers. This law
helped protect the tenurial rights of tenant tillers and enforced fair
tenancy practices.

ii.

R.A. No. 1160 (1954): Free distribution of Resettlement and


Rehabilitation and Agricultural land and an Act establishing the
National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA).

iii.

R.A. No. 1400 (1955): Agrarian reform Act or known as Land to


the Landless Program which sought improvement in land tenure
and guaranteed the expropriation of all tenanted landed estates.

iv.

R.A. No. 1266 (1955): Expropriation of Hacienda del Rosario,


situated at Valdefuente, Cabanatuan City

____________________
[126]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[127]

Ibid.

[128]

Ibid.

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In order to implement the Agricultural Tenancy Act, President Magsaysay


established the Court of Agricultural Relations In 1955 to improve tenancy
security, fix the land rentals on tenanted farms and to resolve the many land
disputes filed by the landowners and peasant organizations. He also created the
Agricultural Tenancy Commission to administer problems arising from tenancy.
Through this Commission 28,000 hectares were issued to settlers.[129]
a. The Key Support Programs on Agrarian Reform[130]
Under this administration the Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Financing
Administration (ACCFA) was created. This is a government agency formed to provide
warehouse facilities and assist farmers market their products and established the
organization of the Farmers Cooperatives and Marketing Associations (FACOMAs).
With the passing of RA 1160 of 1954, President Magsaysay pursued the
resettlement program through the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation
Administration (NARRA). This law established the governments resettlement program
and accelerated the free distribution of agricultural lands to landless tenants and
farmers. It particularly aimed to convince members of the HUKBALAHAP movement to
return to a peaceful life by giving them home lots and farmlands.
This administration also spearheaded the establishment of the Agricultural and
Industrial Bank to provide easier terms in applying for homestead and other farmland.
4. Carlos P. Garcia Administration (1957-1961)
There was no legislation passed in his term but he continued to implement the
agrarian reform programs of President Magsaysay.

____________________
[129]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[130]

Ibid.

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D. Diosdasdo Macapagal Administration (1961-1965)


President Diosdado Macapagal was considered the Father of Agrarian Reform.
It was during his administration that the Agricultural Agrarian reform Code or RA 3844
was enacted on August 8, 1963. This law was considered to be the most comprehensive
piece of agrarian reform legislation ever enacted in the country that time.
i.

This Act abolished share tenancy in the Philippines. It prescribed a


program converting the tenant farmers to lessees and eventually into
owner-cultivators;[131]

ii.

It aimed to free tenants from the bondage of tenancy and gave hope
to poor Filipino farmers to own the land they are tilling. [132]

iii.

It emphasized owner-cultivatorship and farmer independence, equity,


productivity improvement and the public distribution of land. [133]
The 1963 Agricultural Agrarian reform Code was the major turning points in the

history of agrarian reform legislation (if not implementation). The stated goal of the
1963 Code was to establish owner-cultivatorship and the economic family-sized
farm to make the small farmers more independent, self-reliant. A distinct
feature of the Code was that, unlike in the earlier agrarian reform initiatives, agrarian
reform was considered as a means to increase agricultural productivity, which, in turn,
was based on the need for supply of cheap food for urban consumers as well as the
Marshallian view of inefficient share tenancy which was widespread among young
economist-technoclats of the day.[134] In its attempt to increase agricultural
productivity by creating owner-cultivatorship, the Code stipulated a two-step
procedure for land redistribution:
i.

Operation Leasehold, which was to convert share tenancy to leasehold

____________________
[131]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[132]

Ibid.

[133]

Ibid.

[134]

Hayami, Yujiro, Ma. Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Lourdes S. Adreano (1990). Toward An Alternative
Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective. Ateneo de Manila University Press.
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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

52

with the fixed rent at 25 percent of the average harvest in the three normal
years preceding the Operation,[135] and
ii.

Operation Land Transfer, where the government was to expropriate


land in excess of the retention limit of 75 hectares, with compensation to
landowners of 10 percent of the land value in cash and the rest in interest
free Land Bank bonds, and then was to resell to tenants for annual
amortization payments within twenty five years.

Such reforms were to apply only to land planted with rice or corn. [136]
While the Code can be seen as a major advance in agrarian reform legislation,
there were serious limits in design as well. For example, the reform Code covered only
rice and corn land (which represented of all agricultural land and of tenant farmers as
of 1960), thereby excluding land planted with sugar, coconut, fruits and other crops.
This also meant that landowners could avoid agrarian reform implementation simply by
shifting their crop away from rice or corn. Another fault in design was that there was
no sanctions against evasion through transforming land use or transferring ownership to
family members, which were common means of sabotaging agrarian reform
implementation. Furthermore, the initial version of the Code included progressive land
tax, which was subsequently deleted in the final version. Indeed, these limits generally
persisted through the subsequent agrarian reform codes (1971 and 1972) until the
enactment of CARP in 1988.[137]

E. Ferdinand E. Marcos Administration (1965-1986)


Presidential Decree No. 27 became the heart of the Marcos reform. It provided
for tenanted lands devoted to rice and corn to pass ownership to the tenants, and
lowered the ceilings for landholdings to 7 hectares. The law stipulated that share
tenants who worked from a landholding of over 7 hectares could purchase the land they
____________________
[135]

Hayami, Yujiro, Ma. Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Lourdes S. Adreano (1990). Toward An Alternative
Agrarian reform Paradigm: A Philippine Perspective. Ateneo de Manila University Press.
[136]

Nobuhiko Fuwa. May, 2000. Politics and Economics of Agrarian reform in the Philippines

[137]

Ibid.

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

53

tilled, while share tenants on land less than 7 hectares would become leaseholders.[138]
This agrarian reform program was designed to uplift the farmers from poverty
and ignorance and to make them useful, dignified, responsible and progressive partners
in nation-building. This AR program was a package of services extended to farmers in
the form of credit support, infrastructure, farm extension, legal assistance,
electrification and development of rural institutions.[139] There were five major
components of Marcos Agrarian Reform Program[140]:
i.

Land Tenure Program

ii.

Institutional Development

iii.

Physical Development

iv.

Agricultural Development ; and

v.

Human Resources

It was the first major attempt of redistributive reform after the Agricultural
Agrarian reform Code of 1963 failed. In fact, the Code of 1963 served as the basis in
the agrarian 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.[141] 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.[142]
The Marcos agrarian reform program succeeded in breaking up many of the large
____________________
[138]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[139]

Ibid.

[140]

Ibid.

[141]

Borras, Saturnino, Kay Cristobal and A. Haroon Akram Lodhi. 2006. Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development: Historical Overview and Current Issues. Institute of Social Studies and the United Nations
Development Programme.
[142]

Franco, Jennifer C. 2005. Making Property Right Accessible: Social Movements and Legal Innovation
in the Philippines. Philippine Institute of Development Studies.
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haciendas in Central Luzon, a traditional center of agrarian unrest where landed elite
and Marcos allies were not as numerous as in other parts of the country. In the country
as a whole, however, the program was generally considered a failure. Only 20 percent
of rice and corn land, or 10 percent of total farm land, was covered by the program,
and in 1985, thirteen years after Marcoss proclamation, 75 percent of the expected
beneficiaries had not become owner-cultivators. In fact, as Marcos searched for ways
to maintain power, he abandoned his initial impetus for agrarian reform and switched
to favoring an industrial and agricultural elite.[143]

F. Corazon C. Aquino Administration (1986-1992)


The failure of the Marcos agrarian reform program was a major theme in Aquinos
1986 presidential campaign, and she gave agrarian reform first priority: Land-to-thetiller must become a reality, instead of an empty slogan. She did not actually begin
to address the agrarian reform question until 1987.[144] Corazon Aquino took the issue
of agrarian reform in consideration to launch her administration. The Aquino
administration expedited the distribution of emancipation patents under Operation
Land Transfer, thus the number of beneficiaries receiving formal title increased
substantially.[145]
Aquino continued to support agrarian reform measures. A agrarian reform
commission was formed, and in July 1987, one week before the new Congress convened
and her decree-making powers would be curtailed, Aquino proclaimed the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). More than 80% of cultivated land and
almost 65%of agricultural households were to be included in a phased process that
would consider the type of land and size of holding. In conformity with the countrys
new Constitution, provisions for voluntary land sharing and just compensation were
included. The important details of timing, priorities, and minimum legal holdings,
____________________
[143]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[144]

Ibid.

[145]

Ibid.

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55

however, were left to be determined by the new Congress, the majority of whose
members were connected to landed interests. [146]
1. Agrarian Reform Legislations and Issuances Passed under this
Administration[147]
i.

Proclamation 131, instituted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program


(CARP) as a major program of the government. It provided for a special fund
known as the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF) in the amount of 50 Billion pesos
to cover the estimated cost of the program for the period 1987-1997.

ii.

EO 129-A, reorganized the Department of Agrarian Reform and expanded


in power and operations. (The Record and Legacy of the Aquino
Administration in AR: Executive Summary, Planning Service, DAR)

iii.

EO 228 declared full ownership of the land to qualified farmer-beneficiaries


covered by PD 27. It also regulated (fixed) the value of remaining rice and
corn lands for coverage provided for the manner of payment by the farmer
beneficiaries and the mode of compensation (form of payment) to the
landowners.

iv.

EO 229 provided the administrative processes for land registration or


LISTASAKA program, acquisition of private land and compensation
procedures for landowners. It specified the structure and functions of units
that will coordinate and supervise the implementation of the program.

v.

RA 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, an act instituting a


comprehensive agrarian reform program to promote social justice and
Industrialization, providing the mechanism for its implementation and for
other purposes.

____________________
[146]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land Markets. Land
Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison.
[147]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013..

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The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which was instituted in Act
No. 6657 declares two objectives in its title: to promote social justice and to promote
industrialization. Section 2 of the Act is more specific by pronouncing: The welfare of
the landless farmers and farm workers will receive highest consideration to promote
social justice and to move the nation toward sound rural development and
industrialization. To this end a more equitable distribution and ownership of land shall
be undertaken to provide farmers and farm workers with the opportunity to enhance
their dignity and improve the quality of their lives through greater productivity of
agricultural lands.[148] This statement confirms the attention placed into the issue of
land redistribution to alleviate rural poverty and unrest.
2. Other Accomplishments of the Aquino Administration[149]
Other Accomplishments of the Aquino Administration in the implementation of
the agrarian reform program. Grants and budgetary support from official development
assistance (ODA) circles poured in during this administration. Various sectors likewise
recognized agrarian reform as a worthwhile social investment. In terms of the tenanttiller status, this improved particularly those within landowners retained areas or on
landholdings subject for coverage.
Its during this administration that the present adjudication system was
introduced. This gave DAR, the original and exclusive jurisdiction over agrarian disputes
as quasi-judicial powers. Also, livelihood and agro-industrial projects promoted and
program of support services were intensified to help farmer beneficiaries become
productive and transform them into entrepreneurs. This administration received much
support and active involvement in program implementation from key stakeholders such
as peoples organization, farmers association, NGOs and from prominent landowners.

____________________
[148]

Meliczek, H. Issues and problems related to impact assessment of agrarian reform programmes: the
Philippines case. (In: Agrarian reform, land settlement and cooperatives = Reforme agraire, colonisation et
cooperatives agricoles = Reforma agraria, colonizacion y cooperativas, 1/2, 1999, p. 62-75)
http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/SUSTDEV/LTdirect/landrf.htm
[149]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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57

G. Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998)


The Ramos administration is recognized for bringing back support of key
stakeholders of CARP by bridging certain policy gaps on land acquisition and
distribution, land valuation, and case resolution. It is also credited for enhancing
internal operating systems and strengthening the capabilities of the DAR bureaucracy.
This administration is also credited for tapping more resources to help implement the
program.[150]
The agrarian reform policies of the Ramos administration focused on accelerating
the direct land transfer and non-land transfer programs through adopting more rational
and simpler operating procedures and a fair, expeditious and inexpensive settlement
of agrarian disputes. It focused in the adoption of a fair land valuation formula and
prompt payment of just compensation to encourage landowners to cooperate and
support agrarian reform. The administration also encouraged the development of
alternative schemes of landowner compensation to motivate them to invest in ruralbased industries that have strong linkages with agriculture. It also adopted a progressive
agricultural land tax to encourage smaller landholdings among large landowners, a land
conversion tax to discourage land conversion and idle land tax to encourage landowners
to cultivate the land. These taxes were also needed to augment the Agrarian Reform
Fund aside from mobilizing both local and foreign resources.[151]
The administration also pursued for the amendment of Section 63 of the CARL
making the ARF a revolving fund and increasing the fund to P100 Billion. It also planned
to increase the composition of the DARs Adjudication Boards full-time members from
three to nine and upgrading their salaries. The budget of DAR therefore had to be
increased to cover reorganization costs. The protection of ARBs whose lands were
converted to commercial, industrial or residential use by making them shareholders or
co-investors of the industrial/commercial venture was also one of CARPs major
____________________
[150]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[151]

This is based on the assessment in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 1999-2004.

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58

agenda. Also, the CARP bureaucracy had to be motivated further for more successful
results and its partnership at the provincial level with various government and nongovernment organizations, local government units, farmer beneficiaries, landowners,
legislature, media and the academe has to be enhanced. [152]
1. What was done to facilitate land distribution?[153]
Guidelines and procedures were formulated to facilitate acquisition and
distribution of lands to wit:
i.

DAR AO No. 2 (1992), rules and procedures governing the


distribution of cancelled or expired pasture lease agreements and
Timber License Agreements under EO 407.

ii.

DAR AO No. 1 (1993), amending certain provisions of Administrative


Order No. 9 Series of 1990, entitled Revised Rules and Regulations
Governing the Acquisition of Agricultural Lands Subject of Voluntary
Offer to Sell and Compulsory Acquisition Pursuant to RA 6657.

iii.

Joint DAR-LBP AO No. 3 (1994), policy guidelines and procedures


governing the acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands
affected by Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

iv.

DAR AO No. 1 (1995), rules and procedures Governing the


Acquisition and Distribution of all Agricultural Lands Subject of
Sequestration/Acquisition by the PCGG and APT whose ownership in
Under Court Litigation.

v.

DAR AO No. 2 (1995), revised rules and procedures Governing the


Acquisition of Private Agricultural Lands Subject of Voluntary Land
Transfer or a Direct Payment Scheme (VLT/DPS) Pursuant to RA 6657.

vi.

DAR AO No. 2 (1996), rules and regulations Governing the


Acquisition of Agricultural Lands subject of Voluntary Offer to Sell

____________________
[152]

This is based on the assessment in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 1999-2004.

[153]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

59

and Compulsory Acquisition Pursuant to RA 6657.


vii.

DAR AO No. 2 (1997), rules and regulations for the Acquisition of


Private Agricultural Lands Subject of Mortgage or Foreclosure of
Mortgage.

viii.

DAR AO No. 8 (1997), revised guidelines on the Acquisition and


Distribution of Compensable Agricultural Lands under VLT/Direct
Payment Scheme.

ix.

DAR MC No. 7 (1993), implementing guidelines on the Distribution


and Tilling of the Public Agricultural Lands turned over by the
National Livelihood and

Strengthened coordination among agencies implementing CARP, the


legislature, judiciary and LGUs were also being pursued. The use of an
integrated and area-focused approach in implementing CARP through the ARCs
remained a major strategy. Lastly, the Ramos administration emphasized that
the various activities of CARP should be attuned to the modernization of
agriculture and the promotion of industrialization in the country.[154]

H. Joseph Ejercito Estrada Administration (1998-2001)


The Estrada administration focused on fast-tracking land acquisition and
distribution (LAD). It aimed to reduce distortions and uncertainties in land market in
the rural areas to be able to help increase farmers productivity and the private sector
investment as well.[155]
The concept of the Magkabalikat Para sa Kaunlarang Agraryo (MAGKASAKA) was
launched under this administration. The concept was for investors to bring in capital,

____________________
[154]

Celia M. Reyes. Impact of Agrarian Reform on Poverty. Philippine Journal of Development, Number
54, Volume XXIX, No. 2, Second Semester 2002
[155]

Ibid.

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

60

technology and management support while the farmers will contribute, at most, the
use of their land itself.[156]
1. Objectives of the MAGKASAKA?[157]
i.

To Encourage investors to bring investments into the countryside; and

ii.

To Enhance the income of the farmers through joint venture schemes and
contract growing schemes. The program shall enable farmers to be more
efficient and globally competitive.

Another major step was the intensification of the delivery of support services
and social infrastructure to boost incomes of ARBs. It also prioritized the improvement
and protection of the tenure status of stakeholders and the promotion of agriindustrialization in CARP areas through joint ventures, corporatives, contract farming
and other types of production and marketing arrangements. It also aimed for the
completion of land parcel mappings covered by collective Certificate of Land Ownership
Awards (CLOAs).[158]
2. What were the other accomplishments of this administration regarding
CARP?[159]
This administration saw the urgency of land distribution, and believed that it can
be served if it is built on farmers capacities to pursue their own development. One of
the first things this administration did was to rework performance targets by focusing
on the number of hectares of land distributed coupled with an accounting of farmer
beneficiaries and the specific croplands and farm systems covered. This approach
sought to integrate land distribution and support services. It was during this period that
DAR launched a series of land occupations by working with farmer claimants, the LGU
and government security forces.
____________________
[158]

Celia M. Reyes. Impact of Agrarian Reform on Poverty. Philippine Journal of Development, Number
54, Volume XXIX, No. 2, Second Semester 2002
[159]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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To help speed up litigation, DAR also helped set up the agrarian justice fund for
farmer beneficiaries as well as DAR field workers who, due to the nature of the job,
are named as respondents in cases filed by recalcitrant landowners. Support services
took a much more entrepreneurial approach during this administration. Sustainable
rural development district program, were designed to help farmers attain a level of
economic viability.
It has forged alliances among countries implementing AR through the
International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. The department
then began aggressively to assert its place in national development planning processes
to raise DARs profile both in national and international fora. With this, DAR was able
to secure a seat in the annual consultative group meeting between the Philippiness
economic management team and the donor community. This period also, launched the
DAR-DA-DENR convergence initiative.
The Estrada administration also focused on the strengthening of the databases
of the implementing agencies, i.e.. DAR and DENR on the location of lands to cover and
on the potential beneficiaries of CARP. It also promoted the use of market-based
instruments in land distribution such as progressive agricultural land tax and direct land
transfer. Lastly, the Estrada administration pursued to accelerate the resolutions of
agrarian-related cases.[160]

I. Gloria MacapagalArroyo Administration (20012010)


The GMA administration has adopted the BAYAN-ANIHAN concept as the
implementing framework for CARP. Bayan means people, Anihan means harvest
and Bayanihan means working together. Applied to CARP, Bayan-Anihan means a united
people working together for the successful implementation of agrarian reform. [161]
____________________
[160]

Celia M. Reyes. Impact of Agrarian Reform on Poverty. Philippine Journal of Development, Number
54, Volume XXIX, No. 2, Second Semester 2002.
[161]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

62

1. Implementing strategies of the Bayan-Anihan Framework[162]


i.
ii.

Salin-Lupa: Accelerating land transfer and improving land tenure.


Katarungan: Prompt and fair settlement of agrarian disputes and delivery
of agrarian reform justice.

iii.

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.

iv.

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,

particularly

peoples

organizations,

cooperatives and NGOs.


v.

Kamalayan: Raising the awareness of DAR personnel, agrarian reform


beneficiaries and the general public on agrarian reform and its contribution
to social justice and development.

2. Other Specific Programs Administration to Enhance CARP


implementation[163]
With the Gulayan Magsasakang Agraryo (GMA), additional income and food
security to farmers and their communities were provided. Educational opportunities
were ushered in to farmers children and dependents through the Diosdado Macapagal
Scholar Program.
This administration is also credited in heightening agrarian case resolution by
introducing a quota system to compel adjudicators to work faster on agrarian cases and
train farmers into paralegals.

____________________
[162]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[163]

Ibid.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

63

J. Benigno C. Aquino Administration (2010up to present)


Under the governance of President Aquino, the DAR which is the lead agency for
CARP implementation is bent on sustaining the gains of agrarian reform through its
three major components Land Tenure Improvement (LTI), Program Beneficiaries
Development (PBD) and Agrarian Justice Delivery (AJD). Together with the efforts to
fight graft and corruption by the President, it is imperative to have institutional reforms
within DAR as a complement to the abovementioned DAR components as well as give
credence, transparency and accountability at all sectors of the DAR bureaucracy. [164]
1. Strategic Directions for the Land Tenure Improvement (LTI)[165]
To substantially complete asset reform as mandated by RA 9700, the DAR is
currently:
a. Completing the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) in the CARPER
balance through:
i.

Focus on large-sized private agricultural lands;

ii.

Redeployment of competent DAR personnel to the 20 high LAD


provinces;

iii.

Streamline LAD processes and procedures; and

iv.

Enhance the database of landholdings for ease in targeting and


monitoring the LAD;

b. Prioritizing the subdivision of collective Certificates of Land Ownership


Awards (CLOAs) involving LBP-compensable lands;
c. Fast tracking the documentation and settlement of landowner
compensation for already distributed lands;
d. Synergizing and rationalizing the efforts of the CARP implementing
agencies in all processes of LAD; Partnering with the civil society

____________________
[164]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[165]

Ibid.

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

64

organizations (CSOs) in the delivery of LTI services, particularly the


large-sized private agricultural lands (PAL); Adopting a job-sharing
scheme wherein under the ONE-DAR concept, provinces will share
responsibilities (low-LAD provinces with high LAD provinces) to
minimize the need to hire new personnel; and
e. Increasing the utilization of the services of geodetic engineers to assist
the provincial and municipal offices in land acquisition considering the
difficulty of hiring new personnel and the demands of a post-2014
scenario.
2. Strategic Directions for Program Beneficiaries Development (PBD)[166]
Under President Aquinos administration, the DARs PBD priorities are geared in:
i.

Undertaking convergence initiatives with rural development


agencies to complement the resources and streamline the efforts
of DAR, DA and DENR;

ii.

Inking public-private partnerships (PPPs) develop models of


collaboration and business models in AR areas with the
participations of the CSOs, academe, research and development
institutions and LGUs;

iii.

Expanding official development assistance (ODA) portfolio in order


to augment incomes for PBD;

iv.

Integrating LTI and PBD on a province-to-province basis;

v.

Shifting focus of low-LAD balance provinces to PBD; and

vi.

Unlocking credit facilities for the agrarian reform beneficiaries


through capacity development for credit providers and farmerborrowers.

____________________
[166]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

65

3. Strategic Directions for Agrarian Justice Delivery (AJD)[167]


To speed up resolution of AR related cases, the AJD component is geared.
i.

Putting the legal framework in place to expedite the LAD process


and undertake PBD lawyering to ensure ARBs free and informed
consent on agribusiness agreements;

ii.

Developing common templates and legal outlines in order to


rationalize the DAR lawyers and paralegals appreciation and
decision on cases;

iii.

Improving the capabilities of DAR lawyers and legal officers; and

iv.

Utilizing information, communication technology (ICT) to enhance


legal work.

____________________
[167]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

66

VII. FAILURES OF AGRARIAN REFORM OF THE PAST


ADMINISTRATIONS
Agrarian reform programs have been enacted 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 de-serves 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.[168]
The political debacles between peasants and the landlords resulted into turmoil
and bloodshed, with the peasants as oftentimes the victims, politicized further the
reform. Let alone the high record of adjudication cases and court proceedings related
to agrarian 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 agrarian
reform laws and programs in the country. Agrarian 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.[169]
Philippine agrarian reform has experienced all the difficulties one would expect
in a poor society of immense inequality. Laws and decrees have been passed over three
decades, yet many ambiguities of interpretation remain. Decisions on land valuation
are subject to bargaining processes which occasion lengthy delays. The emergence of
an independent, unified agrarian reform department was slow.[170]
____________________
[168]

Is Agrarian reform a Failure in the Philippines? An Assessment on CARP. Limits of Good Governance
in Developing Countries.
[169]

Ibid.

[170]

William H. Overholt. Agrarian reform in the Philippines. Asian Survey, Vol. 16, No. 5 (May, 1976)

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

67

Implementation has repeatedly been hindered by informational inadequacies.


Underestimation of the number of small holders caused underestimation of their
political power and overestimation of the land available for distribution.[171]
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 agrarian
reform in great disbelief.[172]

A. Manuel L. Quezon (Budget Allocation and Outbreak of War)


The major factor that hindered the implementation of agrarian reform under the
administration of President Manuel L. Quezon was the budget allocation and the
outbreak of World War II.[173]
The problem on budget allocation for the settlement program made it impossible
for the program to succeed. Also most landlords did not comply with the Rice Share
Tenancy Act. Widespread peasant uprising against abusive landlords continued. In
addition, the outbreak of the World War II put a stopped to the landownership and
tenancy interventions during this period.[174]

B. Manuel A. Roxas (Lack of Support Facilities)


Due to lack of support facilities, these farmers were forced to resell their lands
to the landowning class. This failure gave basis to doubt the real meaning of agrarian
reform program.[175]
____________________
[171]

William H. Overholt. Agrarian reform in the Philippines. Asian Survey, Vol. 16, No. 5 (May, 1976)

[172]

Is Agrarian reform a Failure in the Philippines? An Assessment on CARP. Limits of Good Governance
in Developing Countries.
[173]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[173]

Ibid.

[174]

Ibid.

[175]

Ibid.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

68

C. Elpidio Quirino (Limited Post-War Resources)


Due to limited post-war resources, the Land Settlement Development
Corporation (LASEDECO) was not successful.[176]

D. Ramon Magsaysay (Lack of Funds)


Out of the targeted 300 haciendas for distribution, only 41 were distributed after
its 7 years of implementation. This was due to lack of funds and inadequate support
services provided for these programs. [177]
Landlords continued to be uncooperative and critical to the program; and
landownership and tenancy problems continued. [178]

E. Carlos P. Garcia (Implementation)


There was no legislation passed in his term but he continued to implement the
agrarian reform programs of President Magsaysay.[179]

F. Diosdasdo Macapagal (Implementation)


The Congress did not provide effort to come up with a separate bill to provide
funding for its implementation.[180]

____________________
[176]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[177]

Ibid.

[178]

Ibid.

[179]

Ibid.

[180]

Ibid.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

69

G. Ferdinand E. Marcos (Existence of Some Limitations)


There were some of the limitations of his agrarian reform program [181].
1. Scope of program was limited only to tenanted, privately-owned rice and
corn lands;
2. Monopoly of businessmen in the coconut and sugar industries.
3. Foreign and local firms were allowed to use large tracks of land for their
business;
4. Declaration of Martial Law leading to the arrest of several farmer leaders
without due process of law due to suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

H. Corazon C. Aquino (Budgetary Shortfall)


Various challenges faced this administration in the implementation of CARP.
Example is on land valuation. One very specific case is the Garchitorena land scam.
There were also issues on the absence of a clear cut guideline that would answer
problems on land use conversion. Minimal efforts were exerted to discouraged and/or
prevent conversion of lands into other use.[182]
Despite the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF), this administration experienced a major
budgetary shortfall due to low remittances from the Asset Privatization Trust and the
Presidential Commission on Good Government.[183]
This administration also experienced constant changes in DAR leadership. This
led to lack of continuity of priority, programs and projects. Allegation on lack of
political wills leadership and genuine commitment to implement the program. Critics
say that the President could have implemented a genuine agrarian reform program
because of her revolutionary powers after People Power I.[184]
____________________
[181]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[182]

Ibid.

[183]

Ibid.

[184]

Ibid.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

70

I. Fidel V. Ramos (Installation of Farmer Beneficiaries)


Failure in enforcing the installation of some farmer beneficiaries (FBs) on
awarded lands became an issue for this administration. Critics say that non-physical
installation of FBs has been the norm rather then the exception.[185]
Some sectors also complained on the slowness of this administration in the
acquisition and distribution of privately owned lands. Although this administration was
credited for having the biggest accomplishment in terms of LAD, critics say this is
because the land acquired and distributed were more on public lands and rice and corn
lands.[186]

J. Joseph Ejercito Estrada (Fiscal Constraints and Conflicts)


Fiscal constraints encountered by this administration resulted to unpaid or
delayed payment of landowners covered under the compulsory acquisition and VOS
schemes.[187]
There were also issues on inter and intra ARBs conflicts due to arguments for
control over negotiations with prospective joint venture partners, some of which
became violent.[188]

K. Gloria MacapagalArroyo (Positive)


With the Gulayan Magsasakang Agraryo., additional income and food security to
farmers and their communities were provided. Educational opportunities were ushered
in to farmers children and dependents through the Diosdado Macapagal Scholar
____________________
[185]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[186]

Ibid.

[187]

Ibid.

[188]

Ibid.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

71

Program.[189]
This administration is also credited in heightening agrarian case resolution by
introducing a quota system to compel adjudicators to work faster on agrarian cases and
train farmers into paralegals.[190]

L. Benigno C. Aquino (Snail-Paced)


Land distribution under the Aquino administration has been moving at a snails
pace; marked by a consistent and chronic failure to meet annual targets, the shameless
misrepresentation of performance indicators, and lack of political commitment by the
DAR leadership under Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes. Despite judicial decisions, the
redistribution of Hacienda Luisita lands has been slow and bureaucratic with
harassments of worker-beneficiaries continuing. Agrarian reform support groups argue
that the current administrations CARP performance is the worst since 1988, the year
CARP took effect. [191]
The Benigno S. Aquino administration, like all previous administrations, via its
neoliberal economic policies of indiscriminately welcoming any and all forms of
investment regardless of the social consequences and its flagrant inaction on abuses, is
party to and similarly accountable for this uncontrolled pattern of dispossession and
human rights violations triggered by land speculations gone berserk. [191]
The political will of President Benigno S. Aquino III is crucial. Here, the deficit is
appalling. By his public stance and the glaring absence of an agrarian reform agenda in
his major policy announcements, Aquino, scion of one of the countrys largest
landowning families and heir to a political dynasty, has obviously no sympathy, interest,
____________________
[189]

Department of Agrarian Reform. FAQs on Agrarian Reform. Series of 2013.

[190]

Ibid.

[191]

Focus on the Global South (with the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance), The State of Agrarian Reform
Under President Benigno Aquino IIIs Government: Beyond the Numbers: A struggle for social justice and inclusive
rural development, (Focus on the global south-Philippines: Quezon City. 2013.
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72

and understanding of agrarian reforms role in the countrys overall socio-economic,


political, and cultural development.[192]
Government agencies led by DAR and DA have also been negligent in the provision
of timely and adequate support services to ARBs, preventing the latter from becoming
economically viable producers and seriously tainting whatever land distribution may
have accomplished. Only 44 percent of all agrarian reform beneficiaries had access to
support services packages with 27 percent of them in agrarian reform communities
(ARCs), which are, anyway, mostly funded by foreign aid. As with other farmers,
majority source their credit from loan sharks and traders who charge usurious interest
rates. Current credit facilities, on the other hand, also offer high interest rates. ARBs
in commercial farms and plantations are forced to rely on former landowners and
corporations for support services. In Mindanao, agrarian reformed-areas and ARB
ownership of lands have been rendered meaningless due to onerous contracts,
leaseback and lopsided growership and production arrangements, leading eventually to
farmer bankruptcies.[193]

____________________
[192]

Eduardo Climaco Tadem. May 2015. Philippine Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century. Land grabbing,
conflict and agrarianenvironmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. An international
academic conference 56 June 2015, Chiang Mai University Discussion Note No. 2.
[193]

Ibid.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

73

VIII. OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF PHILIPPINE AGRARIAN REFORM


Agrarian reform has provided land to tenants and succeeded in breaking up huge
estates but the program has failed to effectively address land ownership concentration.
The original landowners with their relatives still own a significant portion of the
agricultural area in these villages. This occurred not because of transfer actions of
beneficiaries in the land market but because of a flawed land redistribution program.
In particular, the evasion tactics of landlords have been ignored and in several cases
have been recorded as accomplishment of the program. The various schemes of
landlords to evade agrarian reform have prevented real land redistribution to take place
in the country.[194] However, after twenty-six years of implementation of an agrarian
reform program meant to emancipate the tillers (tenants and agricultural workers) from
servitude to elite landowning interests, the goal remains elusive with final resolution
nowhere in sight. Perhaps what is needed is a thoroughgoing overhaul of the program
and its basic premises a well as the overall socio-economic context under which such
an equity-oriented and social justice based program operates.[195]
The World Bank study describes what would have to be done in land policy to
reverse the trend towards higher poverty[196]:
Progress under the governments land redistribution program
has been slow due to inadequate funding, administrative problems of
surveying and land valuation, and opposition of landlords. The adverse
incentive effects associated with the slow implementation of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) include lower
collateral value of agricultural land associated with increased tenurial
____________________
[194]
Marife Ballesteros and Alma dela Cruz. December, 2006. Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Agrarian reform and Changes in Land Ownership Concentration: Evidence from Rice-Growing Villages in the
Philippines. Discussion Paper Series No. 2006-21.
[195]

Eduardo Climaco Tadem. May 2015. Philippine Agrarian Reform in the 21st Century. Land grabbing,
conflict and agrarianenvironmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. An international
academic conference 56 June 2015, Chiang Mai University Discussion Note No. 2.
[196]

Alberto Vargas. March, 2003. The Philippines Country Brief: Property Rights and Land
Markets. Land Tenure Center, University of WisconsinMadison
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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

74

uncertainty. But evidence is overwhelmingly favorable on gains from


land

redistribution

for

beneficiaries:

these

include

gains

in

productivity and incomes, and a higher propensity to invest in both


physical and human capital (of the children) among beneficiaries of
CARP compared to a group of non-beneficiaries
While there is a clear economic rationale for asset redistribution
in the Philippines, the key is choosing the appropriate mechanisms for
effecting this transfer to the poorest segments of society without
generating

costly

distortions

to

incentives.

The

combination

decentralized modernization of land administration collection of a


progressive land tax that generates revenues and introduces incentives
to increase the supply of land on the market; and a program of grants
to facilitate acquisition of land ownership may offer scope for
improvement. A progressive land tax that would obviate the need for
compulsory sale of large holdings as currently mandated under CARP
has far reaching implications and requires detailed scrutiny of
legislative, institutional and political constraints to implementation.
The question of how redistribution of land should be carried out is obviously a
central policy issue in designing a agrarian reform program. Given the historical
experiences regarding the landlord tactics of prolonged legislative debate over details,
of inserting legal loopholes and of evasion by exploiting the discriminatory reform
implementation by crop type or by farm organization (e. g., tenanted versus use of
hired labor), observers agree that land redistribution rules should be simple,
transparent and uniform. The desirability of land retention limits and some types of
restriction on land sales by the reform beneficiaries has been debated, with a clear
consensus yet to emerge, and it would also depend on specific local circumstances. But
many would agree that such a restriction, if at all desirable, needs to be applied
uniformly regardless of crop types or of farm organization. [197]
____________________
[197]

Nobuhiko Fuwa. May, 2000. Politics and Economics of Agrarian reform in the Philippines

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Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

75

IX. RECOMMENDATIONS
a. PRINCIPLES OF GENUINE AGRARIAN REFORM[198]
1. Land to the Tiller Principle
Land is a limited resource and the utilization and ownership of land is endowed
with a social function, that of ensuring a safe and sufficient supply of food for the
population. To make the land more agriculturally productive and more economically
viable, land ownership must be limited to those who directly toil on land. Absentee
land owners extract their share from the fruits of the land by virtue of mere ownership
even without directly contributing to agricultural production.
2. Preferential Treatment for the Marginalized and the Oppresed
Agrarian reform will not happen in a neutral and sterile environment. The
essence of agrarian reform is to redress social injustices and dismantle structures of
inequity and subjugation. The landlords class will employ all the means at their disposal
to oppose agrarian reform. More often than not, it is the peasant who fall prey to the
harassments and violence of the landlords. It is, therefore, imperative that the State
must give preferential treatment to the peasants. It is the responsibility of the State to
protect the peasants lives, properties and peaceful possession and cultivation of the
land. The landlords have all the means to protect and advance their interests.
3. Comprehensive Coverage
History shows that agrarian reform will never be effective in making a dent on rural
poverty and underdevelopment if the coverage of the program or law is limited to
certain types of land under certain type of tenurial arrangements and certain crops.
The coverage of the agrarian reform program must truly include all public and public
agricultural lands and all suitable for agriculture regardless of crops planted and
____________________
[198]

AKBAYAN. Agrarian Reform. History of the Agrarian Reform Struggle. Historical Roots of Landlessness
and Rural Poverty. A Struggle for Social Justice: An Imperative for Development.
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76

tenurial arrangements.
4. Just Compensation: Progressive and selective
Traditionally, just compensation is determined by a mix of factors including the
land valuation in the tax declaration of the landowner, the fair market value of the
land and other factors. However, if agrarian reform is to be a process that will lead to
a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, progressive compensation must
be a key element in determining just compensation. Progressive compensation means
that just compensation per hectare will depend on the total size of the landholding.
The larger the landholding, the cheaper the hectare.
Since the history of landownership in the Philippines is full of stories of landgrabbing, injustices and fraud, these too have to be factors in selecting which
landholdings deserve just compensation. Landholdings found to be acquired through
fraud and other unjust means should not qualify for just compensation. Compensating
for the land acquire through fraud and unjust means is in itself unjust.
5. Affordable Amortization
Agrarian reform is a means to lift the peasant from poverty. Therefore, a major
consideration in determining the payment of the farmers for the land is that they are
poor in the first place and may not be able to afford the price of the land at market
value. It is therefore imperative to treat the valuation of the land for determining just
compensation for landlords as separate from the value of the land in determining the
payment of beneficiaries. Affordability and the ability of the farmers to pay the
amortization should be a major factor in determining the amount to be paid. In order
for this to be possible, government subsidy in land acquisition and distribution is
essential.

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77

6. Popular participation
Agrarian reform farmers should not be treated as mere beneficiaries who will
only wait for the land to be granted to them. Peasant participation is an essential and
necessary component of agrarian reform implementation.
7. Collective Farming and Cooperative-building
Because of the lack of adequate capital and for purposes of efficiency, collective
farming and cooperative-building are to be encouraged. Through collective farming,
cooperative agricultural capital may be pooled. Individual farmers can collectively own
farm machinery and other farm implements and post-harvest facilities. They can also
have access to agricultural inpits which may be cheaper if purchased by bulk. Access
markets mal also be more cost-effective agricultural produce is collectively marketed.
8. Support Services
Land distribution will not be enough to lift the peasants from poverty. Given the
present rural underdevelopment and unfair trade promoted by neoliberal globalization,
support services from the government are essential in ensuring that the farmers can
develop the land and make their farms viable. Support services include the provision of
access to adequate credit facilities assistance, appropriate technology, and technical
and training support. It is only through the provision of appropriate support services
that the productivity and income from the land can be maximized. Ensuring the viability
of the farms will prevent land reconsolidation in the hands of the elite.

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Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion

78

X. CONCLUSION
The issue of land distribution and agrarian reform was never been resolved and
will continue to be one of the main issues for the Philippine government in the near the
future and to the ages to come. Hence, it is important that the agrarian reform program
be handled with care so that the agrarian laws will become mature as soon as possible.
Since the history of landownership in the Philippines is full of stories of landgrabbing, injustices and fraud, these too have to be factors in selecting which
landholdings deserve just compensation. Landholdings found to be acquired through
fraud and other unjust means should not qualify for just compensation. Compensating
for the land acquired through fraud and unjust means is in itself unjust.
The essence of agrarian reform is to redress social injustices and dismantle
structures of inequity and subjugation. It is the peasant who fall prey to the
harassments and violence of the landlords. Therefore, it is imperative that the State
must give preferential treatment to the peasants. It is the responsibility of the State to
protect the peasants lives, properties and peaceful possession and cultivation of the
land.
The government should view agrarian reform farmers as an investment in favor
of the countrys national development and economic growth. They should not be
treated as mere beneficiaries who will only wait for the land to be granted to them.
Support services from the government are essential in ensuring that the farmers can
develop the land and make their farms viable. Such services include the provision of
access to adequate credit facilities assistance, appropriate technology, and technical
and training support.
It is only through the provision of appropriate support services that the
productivity and income from the land can be maximized. Ensuring the viability of the
farms will prevent land reconsolidation in the hands of the elite. In order for this to be
possible, government subsidy in land acquisition and distribution is essential.

Banez | Bosantog | Cubuan | Dogaon | Poking


Subject Agrarian Law and Social Legislation
Professor: Atty. Jennifer N. Asuncion