Ensuring famers’ land ownership in the new administration
On 27-30 June 2016, around 120 agrarian reform beneficiaries from 12 dioceses and agrarian reform advocates gathered together to share and reflect on the outgoing administration’s implementation of agrarian reform in a conference on Protecting Farmers’ Land Tenure and Ownership: Prospects of Maximizing the Opportunities and Addressing the Challenges in the Duterte Administration.
As a preparatory activity for this event, a local assessment was conducted from April to June 2016 to: (a) review the status or effectiveness of agrarian reform (AR) implementation; (b) determine problems/issues and responses from the government and/or community; (c) identify the program’s impacts to living conditions; and (d) to collect and collate existing local data on the program’s Implementation, particularly in the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) component. The local assessment generally aims to analyze the government’s implementation of the agrarian reform program, and evaluate the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms (CARPER) from the perspective of farmers and farm workers.
The local assessment was conducted in the Diocesan Areas in the Provinces of Bukidnon, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Surigao, in which the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)’s performance is poor.
It was found that there needs to be reform in terms of bureaucracy and in policies. The participants urge to continuously rationalize and evaluate DAR’s bureaucracy from the national down to the village level, ensuring that officials and employees do their responsibilities. The group also encourages the new administration to review, amend or repeal controversial “anti-farmer” policies instituted by DAR.
The group has also identified the priority issues for the new administration to focus on during their first 100 days which include:
- Installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries to the land awarded to them
- Poor implementation of agrarian reform due to lack of political will DAR
- Cancellation of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs)
- Human rights violations
- Overlapping and conflicting laws
To this, the new DAR secretary, Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano promised that he will personally visit provinces that encounter the worst problems on land rights such as Leyte, Masbate, Isabela, Iloilo and Sultan Kudarat. Furthermore, he vowed that no farmer, CLOA holder or not, will be forced to leave his/her farm.
Participants were hopeful that in President Duterte’s administration and the proclamation of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as DAR secretary, their problems would be attended and resolved.
The National AR Conference was organized by NASSA/CARITAS Philippines, in partnership with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, AR Now!, ANGOC, CARRD, Focus on the Global South, KAISHAN, PAKISAMA, PhilDHRRA, Rights Network/ KATARUNGAN, TFM and Sulong CARHRIHL.
For more information, please contact Wilson Requez of AR Now! at firstname.lastname@example.org