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SPECIAL REPORT

CARP: Many farmers believed owning land would not happen, says DAR secretary

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(Last of a series)

When personnel of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) drove across rugged roads to far-flung villages in Tarlac province months ago to explain the Supreme Court decision awarding Hacienda Luisita to its farm workers, they were met with skepticism.

Who could blame the workers? They had been tilling the sprawling sugar estate for decades under a stock distribution plan (SDP) without any hope they could ever own a piece of it. And then suddenly, the high court ruled this would be parceled out to more than 6,000 farm workers.

“There were many people crying. Many did not believe this would happen,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said in an interview at the Inquirer office last week. “There were many skeptics among them.”

Many farmers across the country might have the same skepticism about the impact of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) begun by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1988 and which some hope would come full circle under the CARP extension with reforms (Carper) during her son’s watch.

Did CARP achieve its goal of ameliorating poverty after 25 years? Could the DAR under the second Aquino administration distribute the balance of close to 1 million hectares of agricultural land by June 2014?

After a series of activities and interviews with prospective beneficiaries, the workers eventually saw that indeed they could own the land.

“When we came out in November with a list, and told them, ‘This is it,’ and began the surveys, and the surveyors were there, they were pretty convinced this was going to happen,” De los Reyes said.

He said the DAR had a game plan for more or less 6,296 farmers who each will get an estimated 0.6 hectare out of the 4,300 hectares the high tribunal ordered distributed in a final decision in April 2012.

But he warned that the process, including the valuation of the land to determine just compensation for the Cojuangco clan, could take longer, and possibly go back to the courts.

What to do with land

What’s crucial is that once the land is awarded to them, they would have to know what to do with it, what crop to produce that would generate the most income for them, De los Reyes said.

The DAR personnel would begin workshops next month to help the workers decide what to do with the land, and train them to manage it profitably, he said. This way, the government would know what support services to provide.

“That’s essentially the game plan,” said De los Reyes, who was vice dean of De La Salle University College of Law when Aquino tapped him to head the DAR. “The choice of what to plant is theirs.”

The DAR’s P21-billion budget for 2013 covers land acquisition and distribution and compensation for the landowners, and includes more than P2.3 billion for support services, up from P800 million this year, De los Reyes said.

“This is the first time it’s being done under the CARP that we have a budget for support services outside of rural infrastructure,” he said.

That’s on top of the Department of Agriculture’s P1-billion credit for agrarian reform beneficiaries, he said.

Coco levy funds eyed

The DAR is also eyeing coconut levy funds, monies collected from 1973 to 1982 during the Marcos regime from the coconut farmers, who are also potential CARP beneficiaries, to finance support services, De los Reyes said.

What looms as a possibly contentious process in the Hacienda Luisita case is land valuation, which will be computed according to capitalized net income, market value and comparable sales in November 1989, when the SDP was approved.

If the final valuation is contested, the issue will go to the DAR adjudication board, whose decision can be appealed to the special agrarian courts, the regional trial courts and all the way to the Supreme Court again, De los Reyes said.

“Rules say that preliminary determination of just compensation is essentially a judiciary function, not an administrative function. It will go back to the court,” he said.

But while the case is being litigated, cash will be deposited and bonds will be issued to the landowner. “That will not stop the acquisition from going on,” he said. “Once we have segregation, it’s going to be fast. We expect that the list of segregation and valuation are all going to come out February.”

Like winning lottery 

The DAR is targeting the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land between May and June next year.

De los Reyes, however, conceded that awarding the land was no assurance the beneficiaries or their heirs would till it and make it productive.

All this is happening against the backdrop of a stoppage in the operation of the sugar estate from 2004 to 2012 following a strike by the workers.

It has been 23 years since the stock option was hammered out in 1989.

“A lot of people who were hale and hearty, if they were 40 at the time, they are already 60 by this time. A lot of their children perhaps have no more concept of what it is to plant. The decision they have to make will have to do with the land,” said De los Reyes, who himself inherited 2 hectares of sugarcane land in Batangas province.

Like a poor guy winning the lottery, owning land could be overwhelming, he said.

“Are they going to plant on it? The reality of life is that there’s leasing going on there. Are they going to lease it? Are their kids going to work on the land? It’s a very valuable piece of real estate, however you look at it. I’m hoping a lot of them, a significant majority of them, will use this farmland to produce what they want to produce on that land,” he said.

All-out support

“But I’m also not blind to the idea that there are speculators talking to them. Based on the rules they can convert after five years, and sell after 10 years. That’s why the government is serious about providing the support services,” he continued.

Indeed, the government, through its various agencies, would go all-out in its support for the Luisita farmers, he said.

Outside of Luisita, the DAR is also racing against time to acquire and distribute 961,974 ha of land before June 30, 2014, when Carper expires.

De los Reyes said the DAR could complete the acquisition, but not the distribution because 596,000 hectares, or 60 percent of the balance, had to be done by compulsory acquisition.

According to a July 2012 DAR report, more than three-fourths of distributed lands from 1972 to 2011 were either government-owned, or estates distributed through voluntary modes, or lands that were easier, less tedious to cover.

What’s left are mostly private agricultural lands, with close to 80 percent being compensated by Land Bank of the Philippines and 60 percent requiring coverage by compulsory acquisition, according to the report.

“What is left for us in 2009 to 2014 are the hardest lands to distribute,” said De los Reyes, who served as DAR undersecretary for legal affairs during the early years of the Arroyo administration.

Distribution in stages

And then, of course, land acquisition and distribution is done in phases, depending on the hectarage.

Because of the phasing, the DAR could not distribute 187,759 hectares of lands 10 hectares and below, and 163,660 hectares of the 10-ha portion of Phase 3A land (lands above 10 hectares up to 24 hectares) until July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, according to the same report.

This totals 351,619 hectares, or more than a third of undistributed lands, and these lands have to be distributed within one year, and only in the last year of Carper.

If measures are taken to speed up distribution, the DAR is projected to cover 640,000 hectares from this year up to June 2014, while it’s likely some 321,974 hectares would be in the “pipeline for acquisition” but its distribution would not be completed by that time, according to the DAR report.

De los Reyes agreed that DAR could only do so much “according to schedule.”  He admitted the DAR could not distribute the entire balance by June 2014.

He clarified, though, that what would expire in June 2014 would be the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s automatic appropriation for CARP, and after that, the government could still fund the program from the national budget.

“Section 30 of RA 9700 (Carper Law) says if there is a case pending you can continue with the case,” De los Reyes said. “That’s why we’re sending notices of coverage.”

After 2014, De los Reyes, however, is proposing the creation of an agency that “does nothing but distribute private and public lands.”

Clear focus needed

In De los Reyes’ view, the physical transfer of land under CARP spells a lot of difference in the life of a farmer because he could earn from it, whether by tilling, leasing or selling it.

But he asked: “If the farmer decides to sell the land … has social justice been achieved? He gets money for that land in restitution of the suffering he had for the past 20 to 30 years.

“The moment there is land transfer, there’s going to be an improvement in the life of the farmer, whether, in the immediate, he sells it, or in the long term, because he’s able to have a productive asset.”

Contrary to claims of some landowners, economies of scale could occur even among holders of small lands if only they come together and pool their inputs and outputs, the secretary said.

De los Reyes also believed that CARP had worked, and if some farmers remained poor, it was because of the government’s failure to bring farmers together and invest in postharvest facilities.

“It will work when land is distributed and we have a clear focus of support services,” he said, maintaining that the program has resulted in social mobility. “The moment you give a productive asset—land to the farmer—at the very least he has an asset in his name.”

If there was a mistake in CARP, it was because it wasn’t implemented fast enough like in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, now highly developed countries, De los Reyes said.

“It was not implemented fast enough, which Japan, Taiwan and Korea did in 10 years. We’re now in our 24th year, and we’re still distributing lands. This should not have happened if the focus were the large private agricultural lands, which we did not do,” he said.


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Tags: agrarian reform , Farmers , Hacienda Luisita , Philippines , Supreme Court


  • where_I_stand

    This DAR Secretary is acting like the paid lawyer of the Aquino clan, the HLI.
    Expedite the land distribution and secure financial support or subsidy for the families who till the land and make it productive.

  • kingfisher1

    carp a program that was defective from the start. it is doomed to fail. what can you do with small landholdings? no economies of scale? cooperatives have not worked and when you are small you need a strong cooperative institution run by a professional. glad the dar person here is doing a reality check. he is already accepting farmers will not know what to do. or who will till the farm. there is no way 6000 square meters can support a farmer? too small… 

    • rene oliveros

      ……….

  • turbogirl9

    HIS ADMINISTRATION DECEIT FARMERS ACROSS THE REGIONS

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/36O4ZGE5JY24XE4XQOXBM6O4WE Klepto

    Kawawang magsasaka. Sa tagal nang kinakantot lang sila ng gobyerno, heto umaasa pa rin. Hanggang kailan pa kaya sila maghihintay sa pag puti ng uwak. Napaka bobo nyo naman na maniwala sa mga kasinungalingan ng gobyerno. Iinitin nyo na sa apoy ang inyong mga araro at gagawing itak. Yan lang ang tanging paraan para makuha nyo ang matagal nyo nang gusto.

  • regd

    Dahil yan ang gospel na binibigay ng pakialamerong simbahan!

  • zeroko

    With the  line-ups of Senate President Enrile and dozens of Congressman land owners, do you still believe in CARP?. No less than PNoy’s clan also opposed it. As long as Filipino-Chinese is in the highest position in the government, Filipinos will always be second class citizen. Take the case of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. The head of DOLE Cristina Santo Tomas sent the military to quell the labor unrest in the said Hacienda. He he he. That lady of DOLE is crazy! Why send the military whose sole role was to protect the people from outside and internal threat on our “National Security”. An intelligent woman she is, but since she is a Chinese, she sided with the Cojuangco and brought in the military instead of the PNP.

    • Handiong

      Cristina Santo Tomas? There was a Patricia Santo Tomas. She is Chinese?

  • riganom

    Henry Sy, Peping Cojuanco, Danding Cojuanco, Lucio Tan, Gokongwei, Concepcion, Go and many Chinese who became Filipino citizens have taken away lands long been in possession of and tilled by Filipinos.  These Chinese who now have a tight stranglehold of the country, are the stumbling blocks to land reform.

    To remove these blocking forces then, lands in possession by Chinese who acquired Filipino citizenship in the 1970s or during the Marcos era should be confiscated by the Filipinos.  Most of them acquired Filipino citizenship thru corruption.  It was during the Martial Law of Marcos that many Chinese were able to acquire Filipino citizenship.  It is they who have displaced many original and real Filipinos from the land of their forefathers.  

    For foreigners who acquired Filipino citizenship in the 1940s to the 1970s thru bad ethical means, including bribery, tax evasion, smuggling, drug trafficking, human trafficking, unfair labor practice, cartel, substandard services and products, and unfair business competition, the lands they acquired should be confiscated.  For those who acquired citizenship during the same period but through good ethical processes, lands of not more than 1 hectare will be retained for them.  However, their children cannot inherit these lands.  It will be returned back to the government which means to Filipinos.  

    For those foreigners who acquired citizenship and then lands in the Philippines through the right ethical process between the 1900s and the 1940s, the lands in their possession will remain in their ownership.  Their first generation children can inherit not more than 7 hectares of their land through the present legal set-up.  Those more than 7 hectares, will be paid of inheritance tax 200% of the appraised value.  The second generation children will pay 400% of the appraised value for inheritance tax for the lands inherited by the 1st generation children.  The 3rd generation will pay for the same land 800% of the appraised value for inheritance tax.  For those who acquired through unethical process, lands in their possession will be confiscated.  

    This is a soft approach to land reform but can recover hundreds of thousands of hectares back to Filipinos from foreigners.  Huge amount of money can be generated to sustain the recovery of lands and sustainable utilization for Filipinos.  Only real and original Filipinos can retain ownership of huge lands.  Only foreigners who became Filipino citizens without any anomalous means can retain their lands but this time not anymore of avaricious sizes like that of the present foreigners who legitimized their status in possession of the whole nation and turned them into their own properties.

    • tarikan

      Pres. Ferdinand Marcos administration had a hand in these anomalies? The conjugal dictatorship was that bad? How come junior says these days that if his father’s admin had been extended up to today, the Philippines could have surpassed Singapore economically. Twisting the facts then, this junior? Even the mama says so, another demented lady?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q3QGG5QHBLRMZTIYWUFURY6J2E Night

    aquino propaganda again!!!!!

    DISTRIBUTE IT NALANG… WE DON’T BELIEVE PROPAGANDA PIE IN THE SKY REPORTING….

  • asdafaa qwesda

    “Contrary to claims of some landowners, economies of scale could occur
    even among holders of small lands if only they come together and pool
    their inputs and outputs”

    That’s a pretty big IF. IF “they come together and pool their inputs and outputs”. The reason why socialism failed is because people are less likely to do this without a competitive market mechanism. Mr Secretary, I think you should propose solutions that have realistic assumptions on the present situation rather than solving problems by assuming away the constraints. In other words stop thinking like an overly idealistic teenager.

    I’ve heard many stories of people trying to farm collectively sometimes it is successful but more often it fails due to selfishness of the farmers involved. When you farm land you cannot change your neighbors (the people you work with) as easily as when you work in an office. This monopoly keeps a competitive market out and gives your neighbor an incentive to bargain in shirking his responsibilities to get more out of it.

    “If there was a mistake in CARP, it was because it wasn’t implemented
    fast enough like in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, now highly developed
    countries, De los Reyes said.”

    Anyway I can’t wait to have all the land re-distributed. That way the farmers that cannot farm productively will be found out and their lands bought from them by people who can use it productively. Hopefully politicians and our “nag-mamarunong” voters will not support policies that will try to give more money/land to unproductive farmers.

    • Handiong

      The suggestion to pool resources makes sense. This can be done through the setting up of agricultural cooperatives. 

      • asdafaa qwesda

        Like I said, cooperatives does not reliably work due to the inherent selfishness of people and a lack of incentives due to competition. Sometimes it works but it would be foolish to rely on it for our food production. Coops make sense only if people act in the long term interest of everyone. But they don’t, especially when an opportunity to get ahead of everyone at the expense of the coop presents itself. Coops don’t make sense because it relies on naive and unrealistic assumptions on human nature.

        I don’t have anything against having cooperatives per se. I’m just against having a system that subsidizes cooperatives at the expense of other forms organizing production. Let coops compete under the SAME terms and conditions as big corporate farms. The fact coops are not as productive is a testament to human nature’s inherent selfishness.

  • zombie77

    I think that Mr. Riganom is right. There are many foreigners (most of whom came from China) who acquired their Philippine citizenship through bribery, illegally , etc. at the time when Philippine laws were still lax. It is time to give the lands back to Filipinos….. Original Filipinos who were born in the Philippines before 1940 or even earlier, those who have stood,fought foreign invaders and been loyal to the Philippine flag……. give them a chance to buy and own lands.

  • calixto909

    Everyone except people with demonic views  wanted you to distribute said lands to the legal beneficiaries ASAP. Yakking in public for propaganda sake only muddles the issue to put a stigma on Pnoy that he isn’t a true and sincere leader. The eyes of the outside world are focused directly to the speedy disposition of these lands so any delay renders in them negative thoughts that you must be wary of since you’re Pnoy’s alter ego, Mr. Secretary.

    Proffering said lands as per ASAP would totally delete all doubts lingering in the minds of people regarding the integrity of Pnoy as co owners of these lands.

  • entong238

    Mr. de los Reyes, matagal nang usapin ang land distribution sa Hacienda Luisita dahil nagdecide na ang SC na igawad na sa mga benificiries ang kaparte nila so ano pang hinintay niyo. Bulok na proceso na yan kung marami pang kuskos balungos na dahilan na nagpapatunay lang na inutil kayo diyan sa DAR. Mahiya ka naman sa Pangulo na palaging bugbog sa batikos dahil sa siyam siyam na pagbigay sa lupa.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q3QGG5QHBLRMZTIYWUFURY6J2E Night

      sarswela lang ni delosreyes yan at pwenoy… sadyang pinapatagal yan para madelay ng ma delay tapos kapag nag retire na lahat ng SC justices at panay aquino appointee na… babaligtarin ang decision na yan ng SC…. hindi na ulet pamimigay yan

      • Komen To

        Tila sa takbo ( o gapang) ng mga kaganapan sa DAR, dyan na nga pupunta yan. So mukhang good job si sec sa mata ni boss

  • kilabot

    if noykapon does not care about his own health (ubo ubo ubo), would you expect him to take care of others like the farmers? 
    noykapon is a contradiction, what he says he really means the opposite.

  • boldyak

    and this is where the “daan matuwid” will lead to…..(((((valuation of land to be distributed))))

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/36O4ZGE5JY24XE4XQOXBM6O4WE Klepto

    Armed revolution na ang dapat. Walang makakarinig sa boses mo kung sisigaw ka lang. Mas malakas ang tunog kung AK47 ang gagamitin.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/25A7RL6OZ7JWSTMRQE2NQSK4UQ dd

    In 2 or 3 decades these “farmers” will start selling off their CARP lands and the rich will slowly buy them all back, then we’ll be back where we started, again. 

  • Edward Castro

    CARP is really a lot CRAP! its not the ownership that really matters but the optimum utilization of the land.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XWH5SD6XPM3XKND6PJQQ32ZRAU Mabuhay

    Maiba ako……wala na …TKO na ang mga Damaso sa Divorce Law ! 93.17% na ang “yes” sa PDI survey! Nice! To say that we are very excited about this law is an understatement…..

    • marionics

      he he talagang naiba ka nga haha

  • drewkaingiro

    kung kaya ng mga magsasaka na magtatapangtapangan para maagaw ang lupa ng my lupa.mas kaya yan ng mga may ari ng lupa na nagtipid ng husto ang kanilang mga ninuno para may maiwan na lupa para sa kanyang mga apo.bayaran nyo ng karapatdapat para walang away na mangyayari.mas masakit yung agawan ka kesa ang pakiramdam na hindi ka binigyan.CARP??gulo lng ang mangyayari dyan.kung makuha man ng mga magsasaka sa santong paspasan ang inaasam nla na libreng lupa,,I assure you people,,maraming libreng lupa na yan ang hindi na mapakinabangan pa……madidiligan yan ng dugo…

  • disqusted0fu

    and the farmers still have not owned any land, have they? the Cojuangco/Aquino workers first before everyone else.

  • zeroko

    If Marcos was alive, CARP could have been through by now. Unfortunately, he died before the CARP was completed, and the Chinese took over our government. Now, the farmers are in a tight fix. They have nowhere to go, to complain because the whole government ruled by Chinese wants the opposite. They want to take over all our lands and all businesses. Nothing for the Filipinos in general. They Master, we their Slaves. We have a fake Democracy. It always favors and protect the corrupt Chinese in the government more than ever.



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