The State of Agrarian Reform Under President Benigno Aquino III’s Government
The Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA), a network of national farmers’ organizations, rural women, non-government organizations (NGOs) and agrarian reform beneficiaries pushing for the immediate, effective, substantive and just implementation of agrarian reform in the country, launched a series of ground consultations and survey in 2012 to assess the implementation of CARPER, and agrarian reform in general. This report contains data and information directly culled from the experiences of agrarian reform beneficiaries and advocacy organizations in various provinces of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Official government data were also used.
Based on these field accounts, what has emerged is a picture of implementation
characterized by paralysis and the retreat of agrarian reform resulting from the
following: Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) lackluster performance; a ‘legally
conservative’ secretary; budget cuts; efforts by landowners and anti-agrarian reform
forces to subvert and block land redistribution; and an ineffective bureaucracy that
has not functioned with the sense of urgency needed to complete land distribution
by June 2014. The non-completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
Extension with Reforms (CARPER) law or RA 9700 will affect more than a million
This report is divided into three parts. The first provides an overview of the
challenges, tasks and problems that government needs to address to complete the
land acquisition and distribution component come 2014 and to fully implement
The second highlights CARPER implementation under President Benigno
Simeon Aquino III’s administration. The last summarizes the results of the
consultations and survey of SARA to give space to the voices of the rural poor,
landless and even agrarian reform beneficiaries who continue to be marginalized
because of government’s inability to provide initial support, an obligation also
spelled out in the agrarian reform (AR) law.
This report underscores/discusses the following developments as the main
indicators of why CARP and CARPER implementation has now arrived at a critical
juncture under President Aquino’s government:
n The remaining lands to be distributed are the most contentious landholdings,
the most tedious and difficult to acquire and distribute—961,974 hectares from
107,639 landholdings targeted for distribution (using DAR’s end-2011 data).
The Department needs to distribute a little over 300 hectares per year starting
2012 to finish LAD by December 31, 2014. The figure is even higher if pegged
against the June 30, 2014 deadline.
If DAR claims that land distribution is most difficult in private agricultural
lands and is therefore causing the delay or low turnout, LAD in public (and
forest) lands are also challenging, and equally difficult. Distribution of public
forest lands through the DENR embodies complex issues in public land
reform. The environment department has to redistribute two types of public
forest lands, alienable and disposable (A&D) lands and community-based and
managed forest lands, which are actually cultivated farmlands.
Based on the DENR’s official figures, about 3.4 million hectares have been
redistributed, or 90 percent of the total target, to over two million agrarian
reform beneficiaries. While the balance is only close to 400,000 hectares, these
landholdings are nonetheless problematic. For example, influential families
such as the Reyeses, Matiases and Uys of Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon still
have effective control even if the lands in question are classified as public
forest lands. Actual land use and tenure often contradicts what is reported in
official census and land use categories.