ANGOC and PDF-SRD convene Philippine conference on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGT)
Quezon City, Philippines — While the Philippines has a strong policy framework and sound general principles on tenure rights consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of Food Security (VGGT), resource rights policies are highly fragmented and sectoral, hence the conflicts in their implementation.
This is one of the major findings shared during the national conference on “Resource Rights at Stake: Realizing Responsible Governance of Resource Tenure in the context of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure” last March 20, 2014 at the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Soils and Water Management Conference Hall in Quezon City, Philippines. More than 120 participants from various government agencies, academe, civil society organizations and international donor agencies attended the conference.
This culminates a year-long initiative by the Philippine Development Forum Sustainable Rural Development sub-working group (PDF-SRD), together with the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) and the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), to assess Philippine policies on tenurial security vis-à-vis the VGGT of the Committee on World Food Security.
The conference imparted the highlights of three studies on applying the global voluntary in improving the Philippine policy environment related to tenure security and resource governance. ANGOC conducted three studies on the VGGT and 1) current Philippine policies; 2) the National Land Use Act, and 3) responsible agricultural investments (rai). ANGOC Chairperson Antonio B. Quizon presented the consolidated results from the three studies at the meeting.
Mr. Quizon pointed out the interconnected relationships between land, fisheries and forests and their uses as well as the need for an integrated approach in their administration. His major observations are:
First, unlike some Asian countries that have a comprehensive and consolidated Land Law or a Land Code, tenure governance in the Philippines today is founded on numerous legislations that define the policy, legal and organizational frameworks related to tenure and governance of land, forests and fisheries.
Secondly, while new laws or amendments are continually being passed by the legislature, the old laws are often not repealed. Sections of old laws are merely superseded, replaced or amended by the new laws, and this system allows the old laws to retain their residual validity in whole or in part. The overall result is a complex system of legal jurisprudence that often only lawyers can navigate.
Thirdly, the country has taken on a highly sectoral approach to land/ resource policy, tenure reforms, and land/ resource administration. There is CARP/ER for agrarian reform covering public A&D and private agricultural lands, Fisheries Code covering municipal waters, and IPRA for ancestral domains. In addition, there is the Mining Act, NIPAS, Forestry Code, and others.
Finally, climate change adaptation and disaster response policies in the Philippines are silent on the protection or restitution of resource and tenure rights post-calamities. Policy should address the tenure rights of people likely to be or have been affected by climate change, as well as of host communities in cases of resettlement, especially with respect to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
The participants also identified recommended action areas and next steps. Some proposals are to assess the effectiveness of existing tenurial instruments, review and harmonize overlapping policies including fisheries and water rights, push for the passage of the National Land Use Act (NLUA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), promote people-centered principles for responsible agricultural investments, and ensure the security and protection of people’s tenure rights affected by climate change. #
Manila, Philippines – “It is in implementing the new Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests where the real challenge lies since it is non-binding for governments.”
This was stressed by Fr. Francis Lucas, Chairperson Emeritus of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) last June 10, 2013 at the Brown Bag session of the Asian Development Bank.
ANGOC helped organize the Bank staff’s learning session, together with the ADB Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Security Community of Practice and the Food and Agriculture Organization, around the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and how they can lead to more responsible land investments for smallholders in Asia.
“We emphasize the importance of these discussions for better tenure reform because while land reform laws are in place across Asia, their execution has been poor and governments have been ambivalent towards fulfilling them. Instead, land is increasingly being allocated for special economic zones, agribusiness ventures, and capital and labor-intensive extractive industries like mining and similar commercial undertakings,” emphasized Fr. Lucas.
ANGOC linked ADB with Dr. Paul Munro-Faure from the FAO Climate, Energy and Tenure Division, to give an orientation to Bank staff on the VGGT. Dr. Faure is part of the FAO team actively promoting the implementation of the Guidelines especially in countries where the legal framework for governance of resource tenure remains weak.
On May 11, 2012, 98 countries in the World Committee on Food Security officially endorsed the VGGT in Rome.
The Guidelines are intended to provide a framework for responsible tenure governance that supports food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable resource use and environmental protection. They set out principles and internationally-accepted practices that may guide the preparation and implementation of policies and laws related to tenure governance.
Meanwhile, ANGOC Chair Antonio Quizon pointed to the commodification of land and resources that is fueling the rush for the world’s farmlands.
“As globalization demands more and more resources, land has emerged as a key source of conflict. The hunger of global capital must be fed by commodifying everything – land and water, plants and genes, and even clean air in the form of ‘carbon emission quotas’,” emphasized Quizon.
To address this, Quizon says it is critical to have four Rs: credible Research and data, better Regulation like the adoption of the VGGT, as well as Retribution and Resistance of affected communities when necessary. #