Landownership problem and control of resources remains as a political development issue in the Philippines. Agrarian reform is a necessary condition for agricultural modernization and rural industrialization and the fundamental mooring for global competition. Agrarian reform has contributed to improvement of the socio-economic conditions of landless farmers and political development of the Philippines in terms of engaging the landless in the process of policy making and distribution of large private landholdings to the landless. Modalities giving peasants a stake in society such as decisive role in agrarian legislations, engaging them in dialogue to resolve agrarian cases, presenting manifesto pinpointing their criticisms and recommendations on implementing rules and guidelines, identification of farmer beneficiaries and lands to be covered, negotiation on the mode of land acquisition and distribution and computation of land values, have significantly influence the process of democratization and establishment of participatory institutions at the local and national levels.
It was after World War II that many newly independent countries initiated development programs to reduce widespread poverty among landless peasants brought about by extreme income disparities between the landed and landless in the rural sector. A redistributive land reform was considered a panacea to address this social cancer.
Land reform was initiated in the Philippines in 1934 under the Commonwealth Government of President Quezon. Government adopted it as a strategy to promote social justice and to build the foundation of broad-based growth and sustainable development. For about sixty-five years, the problem of landownership and control of resources continue to be a political development issue in the Philippines. The fact that the country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and participant in the General Agreements on Tariff and Trade (GATT) aggravate this.
In these global bodies, agrarian reform is viewed as necessary condition for agricultural modernization and rural industrialization. It is also
considered as the fundamental mooring for global competition. Hence, this transformation process is assumed to contribute not only for socio-economic development but for political growth as well. It is therefore imperative to assess the strategic role of government, other stakeholders, and institutions that either facilitated or hindered the implementation of agrarian reform.
Under Corazon Aquino’s administration, the Constitutional Commission of 1986 approved section 21 under Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policy), which states “The State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform.” Subsequently, President Aquino created the Cabinet Action Committee to draft the CARP. However, this effort did not succeed.
In July 1992, the Ramos administration has identified five major tasks to be done to sustain the gains of CARP: i) bringing back the support of CARP stakeholders; ii) energize the bureaucracy; iii) find more resources for the program; iv) bridge certain existing gaps in policy; and v) strengthen the program’s role in reducing rural poverty by raising productivity and incomes of farmer beneficiaries through an integrated and sustainable approach at beneficiaries development.
Despite the accomplishments of the program under this administration, there are problems that have not been resolved such as: i) cancellation of CLTs and CLOAs, these lands should not have been covered during the Marcos and Aquino administrations since these are retention areas of landowners; property was not primarily devoted to rice and corn; and the land is outside the coverage of the program.
The 1998-2004 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program puts the farmers as the center of development. Pushing for a vision of society where there is 11 equitable land ownership with empowered agrarian reform beneficiaries, farmers shall be able to manage their economic and social development towards a better quality of life. To meet the objectives of equity, capability and sustainability, the Estrada administration implemented CARP by integrating land tenure improvement (LTI) and program beneficiaries development to build farmers’ capacities at claim-making, further stimulate the empowerment of the farmers and ensures that the land transferred with means will make its new owners productive and competitive in globalizing environments. The problem encountered with the administration was the insufficient time due to Estrada’s imprisonment. President Arroyo also failed in this matter.
Until now, the government is making a way to uplift the life of the farmers and to help them own a land. The latest news regarding land reform is the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita through a raffle. This was also mentioned by the present President during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) which is done annually.
* Agrarian Reform Book (Agrarian Reform in the Philippines p.37-p.52) * http://www.academia.edu/1181074/AGRARIAN_REFORM_AND_PHILIPPINE_POLITICAL_DEVELOPMENT