Category Archives: Philippines

Ensuring famers’ land ownership in the new administration

Participants of the conference on agrarian reform. Photo by KAISAHAN.

Participants of the conference on agrarian reform. Photo by KAISAHAN.

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 wkrequez@gmail.com

Advertisements

Cambodian CSOs visit the Philippines

To learn about the land and housing laws, and the strategies of the CSO in ensuring the access of resource rights among the sectors, the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) organized the Learning Visit on Land and Housing Rights in the Philippines on 26-28 July 2016. Representatives from Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), Focus on the Global South, Equitable Cambodia (EC), and Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), and ADHOC Cambodia also took part in the study tour.

Hosted by ANGOC, the first day focused on the Philippine land laws and the strategies and experiences of CSOs in pursuing their advocacies on agrarian reform and land use. While Philippines has many asset reform laws rooting to the Philippine Constitution of 1987, they are highly sectoral in approach; thus overlapping provisions and jurisdictions persist in the country resulting to resource conflicts among different sectors. Hence, the Philippine CSOs push for the passage of the National Land Use Act (NLUA) Bill. CSOs and advocacy groups who presented their advocacy experiences were The People’s Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network Incorporated (AR Now!), Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CARRD), and Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! (CLUP Now!).

On the second day, Cambodian CSOs visited the Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) office to hear about the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) as the main Philippine law on urban housing. They have also learned the initiatives COM conducts to ensure proper implementation of the said law. They have visited a site where an urban housing project is being implemented in Manggahan, Pasig City to learn the experiences and struggles of the Alliance of People’s Organization along Manggahan Floodway Pasig (APOAMF) in successfully fighting for their right to live within city through a near-city housing relocation site project which they, themselves, have developed and proposed to the Government.

Lastly, the Cambodian CSOs visited and learned from the Pastolan indigenous community in Hermosa, Bataan, who have successfully claimed their ancestral domain title with the support of the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID). Visitors have also learned how the government and the indigenous community have sustained a harmonious relationship to one another in a dialogue with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Cambodian CSO representatives with the ANGOC Chairperson Emeritus Fr. Francis Lucas.

Cambodian CSO representatives with the ANGOC Chairperson Emeritus Fr. Francis Lucas.

Dr. Ear Chong of NGOF (right most) presenting an overview of land situation in Cambodia.

Dr. Ear Chong of NGOF (right most) presenting an overview of land situation in Cambodia.

Cambodian CSO representatives with the community people and urban housing project construction.

Cambodian CSO representatives with the community people and urban housing project construction.

Indigenous people's representative "Ka Bonnie" showing the map of their ancestral domain territory.

Indigenous people’s representative “Ka” Bonnie showing the map of their ancestral domain territory.

Indigenous people's representative addressing the questions of the Cambodian CSO representatives.

Indigenous people’s representative “Ka” Linda addressing the questions of the Cambodian CSO representatives.

Cambodian CSO representatives learning about the experiences of indigenous peoples in claiming their ancestral domain title.

Cambodian CSO representatives learning about the experiences of indigenous peoples in claiming their ancestral domain title.

Casiguran farmers, fisherfolks, and indigenous people’s plea: stop APECO

Ka Tony

Ka Tony Barbosa, a fisherfolk participant during the workshop on “Increase the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) among CSOs and Grassroots Organizations in the Philippines,” was in tears as he shared how their livelihood will be lost upon construction of port along the foreshore of Casiguran, Aurora. Even now, they can no longer use the docks they used to anchor their boats for fishing. Industrial wastes would also pollute the waters sheltering the fishes they catch.

Farmers and indigenous peoples of the Casiguran are also in the same dismal situation as their lands will soon be converted to industrial parks, airport, hotels, ship anchorages, and recreational facilities through the implementation of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO).

APECO is an abruptly approved Php 1-Billion project created by law allegedly lobbied secretly by the ruling political family in Aurora. It covers more than 13,000 hectares of rice lands, coconut plantations, forests, coastal areas, and human settlements in five barangays of Casiguran.

While APECO violates basic sectors rights to access to land, food, livelihood, and health, it is also in conflict with some provisions of the Constitution and policies governing indigenous people (according to a case study by Dave de Vera of PAFID).

These sectors call for the non-implementation of the APECO project. “We don’t want the jobs they offer. We need our lands and livelihoods secured.”

Related resource:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FInCVKC1_9A

Training of trainers on increasing the use of VGGT

On 11 May 2012, Philippines was one of the 98 countries in the Committee of World Food Security (CFS) who officially endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) in Rome, Italy. VGGT is as a set of guidelines that can be used as a reference, given the different national contexts that need to be taken into account in defining the governance of land and natural resources.

ANGOC has been promoting the use of VGGT through implementing projects partnered with national and international organizations such as GIZ-Philippines, National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI), and Philippine Development Forum – Working Group on Sustainable Rural Development (PDF-SRD).

On 11-14 July 2016, FAO and ANGOC conducted the training of trainers on “Increase the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) among CSOs and Grassroots Organizations in the Philippines” in Tagaytay City.

Participants of the training of trainers on “Increase the use of the VGGT among CSOs and Grassroots Organizations in the Philippines.” Photo credits to CMN.

Participants of the training of trainers on “Increase the use of the VGGT among CSOs and Grassroots Organizations in the Philippines.” Photo credits to CMN.

Twenty two farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, and CSOs from different parts of the country participated in the workshop to increase their understanding and use of VGGT within the national context with the view of improving land governance in the country. The four-day course:  (i) fostered understanding on the background and process of the VGGT; (ii) explained the main topics covered by the VGGT; (iii) identified main actors and processes and their respective roles; and (iv) formulated an action plan to apply the VGGT in support of land rights work of the basic sectors.

From their own experiences on non-recognition of their rights, participants assessed the threats of their cases, the actors and their roles and influences.

Farmer sector group brainstorms on assessing the situation of their cases. Photo credits to CMN.

Farmer sector group brainstorms on assessing the situation of their cases. Photo credits to CMN.

With what they have learned from the lectures on the VGGT and its applications in the national and global level, participants were able to draw the VGGT principles in analyzing their own situations through a role playing activity. It demonstrated a particular case involving a policy implementing an investor-supported project while oppressing the rights of the basic sectors.

Participants during the role playing demonstrating VGGT's use in analyzing scenarios on resource governance. Photo credits to CMN.

Participants during the role playing demonstrating VGGT’s use in analyzing scenarios on resource governance. Photo credits to CMN.

Participants were able to reflect how their rights are threatened and how they can use VGGT in protecting and demanding for their rights.

Participants shared their learnings and reflections from the workshop.

Participants shared their learnings and reflections from the workshop.

The workshop concluded with an agreed intersectoral framework to better popularize the VGGT as an immediate action plan (see diagram below). Training design will be reviewed and appropriate training modules will be further developed for the use of basic sectors on the ground. Also, tools for assessment on governance of tenure will be developed to equip sectors in evidence-based advocacies. These will be initiated by a VGGT Reference Group composed of each basic sector’s representatives.

 

Intersectoral framework on  further popularizing the use of VGGT.

Intersectoral framework on further popularizing the use of VGGT.

Related resources:

VGGT-3-desk-studies-729x336

These VGGT desk studies were prepared to identify existing gaps in policies and programs on the governance of land and resource tenure in the Philippines, and to familiarize stakeholders on the VGGT. Download the publications here.

 

 

 

 

 

Philippines: Lands that farmers can finally call their own

We are posting this story shared by Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN).

Farmers marking their lands. Photo by KAISAHAN.

Farmers marking their lands. Photo by KAISAHAN.

After 20 years of land acquisition struggles, 23 farmer beneficiaries in Barangays Sumanga and Valenciana in Ormoc City, Leyte have been successfully installed to the lands they have long been awarded with certificates of land ownership (CLOA).

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) led the installation on 20 and 21 June 2016 in the two villages together with some 300 officials and representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and other advocacy groups including KAISAHAN.

This long-time story of unsecured land tenure of farmers roots to landowners’ resistance to the redistribution. Whenever installation is attempted, farmers receive threats and intimidation from the previous landowners, Larrazabal, resulting to repeated failures of the process. The last time was on 9 February 2016.

Even up to the day of this event, previous landowners have been continuously resisting. KAISAHAN Executive Director Anthony Marzan and legal officer Atty. Claire Demaisip reiterated to the opposing party that only a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court can postpone the instalment.

To secure the post-installation situation, KAISAHAN has insisted of putting up a PNP detachment until the peace and order in the area is assured. Farmer groups and federations in the areas have also assured that they will provide support services to the new farmer-landowners to ensure sustainable use of their lands.

Land installation to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Leyte, Philippines: stalled!

We are posting this news shared by Solidarity Towards Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (KAISAHAN).

photo by KAISAHAN

Photo by KAISAHAN.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Office of Leyte announced postponement of land installations in Barangays Valencia and Sumanga in Ormoc, Leyte on 9 February 2016 affecting around 30 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

DAR recalled its own writ of installation allegedly due to a filed case of cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership and Acquisition (CLOA) over the land by other farmers. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) II Renato Badilla sent orders stating that previous landowners, Tan Landholdings and the Potenciano & Anecita Larrazabal Enterprises Corporation (PALEC) opposed the installations in the 30 and 35 hectares of land in the two barangays due to the alleged erroneous coverage of the subject landholdings.

Together with the farmers, KAISAHAN expressed their frustration to the non-installment. Atty. Claire Demaisip of KAISAHAN pointed out that “EXCEPT FOR THE SUPREME COURT, no court in the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the PARC [Presidential Agrarian Reform Council], the DAR, or any of its duly authorized or designated agencies in any case, dispute or controversy arising from, necessary to, or in connection with the application, implementation, enforcement, or interpretation of (the AR laws).” “It is clearly stated that only a TRO [temporary restraining order] from the Supreme Court can stop this installation,” adds Atty. Rolly Poero, also from KAISAHAN.

In a meeting following the release of the Orders, the farmer beneficiaries wielded their CLOAs before DAR and Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) representatives with Leyte Sheriff Joseph Catingub and demanded the immediate resolution of this case and their installation. However their response was that as much as they wanted to install the farmers, they are not in the position to resolve the issue. They can only write their appeals to the PARO’s Orders.

The said farmer beneficiaries from Valencia and Sumanga have already had several attempts for installation since they received their CLOAs way back in 1996. However, all these attempts failed due to resistance of the previous landowners.

Philippines: Justice for the Kidapawan rally victims!

Kidapawan protester gun-shot. Photo by Rappler.com.

Kidapawan protester gun-shot. Photo by Rappler.com.

With the Philippines now experiencing the El Niño phenomenon or the dry season, farmlands suffer from drought resulting to low to zero agricultural production.

This scenario has been occurring in five provinces affected by dry spell and in 18 provinces (mostly in the Mindanao Region) experiencing dry conditions since February 2016 – the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (NDRRMC) confirms.

The National Government has been aware of the calamity. As early as December 2015, President Aquino III approved a Php19-Billion budget to combat the effects of El Niño which may last until May 2016. North Cotabato in Mindanao was already identified as one of the nine provinces experiencing dry spell as early as December. The farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato have not yet been receiving any.

On 30 March 2016, around 3,000 protesters started to block the Davao-Cotabato Highway to demand for government assistance (including calamity funds and food relief) in the wake of the adverse effects of the already 3-month long severe drought in the area.

After four days of peaceful protest in front of the provincial office of the National Food Authority, the police forces started an open fire to the unarmed farmers leaving three shot dead and more than 40 wounded.

Until now, the government assistance has not been distributed to the farmers.

ANGOC, together with the many CSOs having concern on this issue, supports the statement on expressing utmost condemnation on the killing of unarmed farmers.

Wounded protesters demanding government assistance in the wake of drought in North Cotabato. Photo by ABS-CBN Network.

Wounded protesters demanding government assistance in the wake of drought in North Cotabato. Photo by ABS-CBN Network.

Indonesia high delegation learning visit to the Philippines on agrarian reform

With the Indonesia President Joko Widodo’s agenda on agrarian reform, 21 government and CSO Indonesian delegates (13 from Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, and 8 from CSOs from KPA including a representative from Samdhana Institute) visited the Philippines on 9-15 February 2016 to learn the Philippines’ experiences in formulating and implementing its agrarian law and reform.

Hosted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and facilitated by the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), the learning visit started with delegates meeting with the DAR Team headed by Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes on the orientation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) and status of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Meetings as well with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were organized to discuss land administration concerns. The delegates had a meeting with the Congressional Committee Chairman on Agrarian Reform, Representative Teddy Baguilat, Jr. regarding the legislative processes and the overlapping tenurial arrangements between CARL and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

On the other hand, Philippine CSOs including ANGOC, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), (National Confederation of Small Farmers’ and Fishers’ Organizations (PAKISAMA), Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) shared their perspectives on the challenges and lessons learned in implementing asset reform programs in the country. On-site exposures were also conducted with DAR regional and provincial offices and farmer beneficiaries in Northern Mindanao.

Both countries agreed to continue this learning exchange process.

Indonesia CSOs (KPA and Samdhana Institute) representatives with the Philippines’ DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes. Photo by DAR.

Indonesia CSOs (KPA and Samdhana Institute) representatives with the Philippines’ DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes.
Photo by DAR.

DAR Secretary delos Reyes presenting the status of Philippine agrarian lands during the orientation meeting.

DAR Secretary delos Reyes presenting the status of Philippine agrarian lands during the orientation meeting. Photo by DAR.

Indonesian delegates and CSOs meet with Congressional Committee Chairman on Agrarian Reform Teddy Baguilat, Jr. (center). Photo by DAR.

Indonesian delegates and CSOs meet with Congressional Committee Chairman on Agrarian Reform Teddy Baguilat, Jr. (center). Photo by DAR.

Briefing on agrarian reform implementation in Northern Mindanao. Photo by DAR.

Briefing on agrarian reform implementation in Northern Mindanao. Photo by DAR.

Field visit in Bukidnon. Photo by DAR.

Field visit in Bukidnon. Photo by DAR.

Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights continues to work with CSOs

Participants of the human rights dialogue.

Participants of the human rights dialogue.

In October 2008, a project on “Community-based Dialogue Sessions on Human Rights Between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and Civil Society Organizations and Local Communities” was launched to contribute to the improvement of the Human Rights situation in the Philippines through strengthening relationship among security forces, local communities and civil society organizations. This project, supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany, is a partnership among the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), the Philippine National Police through the Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO), the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Human Rights Office (AFP-HRO), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and the Alternative Law Groups (ALG).

As a component of this project and as a part of the celebration of the Human Rights Week, a “Top-Level Policy Dialogues on Human Rights” was held on 7 December 2015 in Quezon City where the newly appointed CHRP Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon and Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit presented the Strategic Direction of the CHRP under the 5th Commission (2015-2022).

More than 70 participants representing different human rights organizations, civil society organizations and members of the AFP, PNP, CHRP, and local government officials attended the forum.  A panel of reactors was also invited to share their ideas and insights on the Commission’s strategic direction.

Chairperson Gascon acknowledged the issues and opportunities raised by the panel and the participants. He also committed to continue working with CSOs and the security forces sector in enabling the marginalized and vulnerable to assert their basic rights.

Philippines: Local government units and advocates firmly stand against mining

Panel of discussants of the “National Policy Dialogue on Local Autonomy and Mining.”

Panel of discussants of the “National Policy Dialogue on Local Autonomy and Mining.”

The current policy (EO 79) of the Philippine administration on mining is viewed by local government units (LGUs) as an aggressive promotion of large-scale mining. With a close to 50%-record on the number of provinces with anti-mining ordinances, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) and the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce have issued a position that local ordinances cannot supersede a national law like the Mining Act of 1995. On a brighter side, a new bill to immediately direct increased taxes and mining revenues to the LGUs was filed in the Lower House – the Mining Revenue Bill.

With these, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) led the National Policy Dialogue on Local Autonomy and Mining on 13 November 2015 in Quezon City to review the status of local legislations on mining projects; enhance the awareness and learnings among locally elected officials on the current issues of mining, specifically the challenges the LGUs face; and produce a set of actions that facilitate convergence of advocacy efforts on local autonomy and extractives.

Local chief executives, public administration experts, civil society groups, and other stakeholders participated in the dialogue which focused on the ‘local autonomy and mining: the LGU right to say “no” to mining,’ and on ‘the economics of mining: taxes and revenues from mining, are they worth it?”

Based from legal frameworks and economic return data presented, the event concluded that LGUs have the right to resist entries of mining activities, and that mining merely contributes to Government revenues by 0.004%, thus telling that mining is not worth engaging.

The results of this dialogue will be part of a report to be shared to LGUs; used as bases for dialogues for the 2016 elections; used for lobbying other legislative reforms including fiscal regime.

Organizers of the national dialogue also include RePubliko, CLCG, LILAK, Philippine Society for Public Administration (PSPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bantay Kita, Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and the Provincial Governments of Albay, Nueva Vizcaya and Oriental Mindoro.