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 Filipino farmers.
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 CARPER.
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.