Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Republic of the Philippines 2001 - 2010

The Land Reform Program

The Past that Was

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program seeks to transfer land to the farmers to enable them to enjoy the full benefits of their farm labor, instead of sharing these with the landowner. Through the years going back to the 1930s, the sharing arrangement between farmers and their landlords had ranged from 50-50, with the landlord shouldering all expenses, to 60-40 in favor of the farmer with the landlord and the farmer sharing expenses equally, then to 70-30 in favor of the farmer with the farmer paying for all expenses. With the arrangement being ignored by one or the other or both of the parties at various times, however, discontent soon stalked the agricultural lands, especially those in Luzon.

The Government first took cognizance of the smoldering problem in 1966 upon the assumption into office of President Diosdado Macapagal, and then followed through into the 1970s. It extended the law to current times, to be able to complete the distribution program until all farmers with legitimate claims received their share of the land they tilled. The Government has implemented CARP with determination in the last nine years.

The Current State of Affairs

As of June 2009, land distribution under CARP stood as follows:

Land identified for distribution (ha.)  9,001,750

Agricultural land (ha.)  5,163,751

Public alienable land (ha.)  3,837, 999

Actually distributed (has.)  7,436,507

Agricultural land (ha.)  4,119,196

Public alienable land (ha.)  3,317,311

Percent distributed  83

Beneficiaries identified  6,065,832

Agricultural land (ha.)  3,017,254

Public alienable land (ha.)  3,048,578

Actual beneficiaries  4,619,229

Agricultural land  2,376,096

Public alienable land  2,223,133

Percent beneficiaries  76

The land that has been identified for distribution consists of agricultural land and public alienable and disposable land. Of the targeted hectarage, 83 percent have been covered so far. Of the intended beneficiaries , 76 percent have received their share of the land.

Obviously, there is still much left to do. .

To bolster the beneficiaries of the program in their new role as land-owners, the Government has provided supporting infrastructure, with details described as follows:

Farm-to-market roads (number)  78

Length (km.)  313

Cost (million pesos)  620

Irrigation systems (number)  98

Area served (ha.)  10,411

Cost (million pesos)  1,850

Bridges (number)  23

Length (km.)  955

Cost (million pesos)  214

Total cost (million pesos)  2,684

The supporting infrastructure consisted of farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, and bridges. the total cost of which was P2.68 billion.

Needed: A New Direction

Although it still has a way to go, the CARP, to the extent that it is a land distribution program, can now be described as having almost completely succeeded in attaining its goal. But CARP should be more than just a distribution program, because if that is all it is, it would be merely another way of condemning the new owner to perpetual poverty, a burden to society as a whole. CARP should also be a developmental program aiming to raise farm productivity, increase farm hectarage, so that the country as a whole will benefit from its fruits.

So far CARP is not oriented to this direction. In fact the whole agrarian reform program does not even bother to collect information on farm productivity, over the years, so that we remain in the dark to this day as to the productivity of farms that have been redistributed to new owners, as compared to the productivity of farms still on the distribution block.

That should be a worthy item in the new DAR agenda.