Philippines’s Land Reform Program a Failure, Study Shows
BY KARL G. OMBION
BACOLOD City – As the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) faces its possible second extension next year, a German Technical Assistance (GTZ)-commissioned review of the CARP said, “Despite a total of 34 years of agrarian reform – agrarian reform failed to increase agricultural productivity, reduce rural poverty, and landowners’ investment in rural-based industries.”
In its 272-page report made available to Bulatlat, the GTZ bared that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has concentrated mainly on land redistribution without considering viability and support services.
“Despite shortage of funds, CARP implementation has been beset by misplaced priorities and misallocation of resources. For example, 60 percent of total disbursements go to salaries of a bloated bureaucracy; DAR has 15,000 officials and employees nationwide. The rule for an efficient organization is that the ratio between personnel and operating costs should be 40-60 percent not otherwise as in the case of DAR,” the study said.
The study also revealed that the government allocated only about 50 percent of what was needed to finance CARP implementation. Land Bank has to advance up to P4.5 billion ($105,263,157 at an exchange rate of $1=P42.75), way beyond its credit line from World Bank of only P1 billion ($23,391,812).
It said that contrary to general perceptions, there is really no landowner resistance to CARP because Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) and Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT) accounted for a great deal of DAR’s accomplishment target. As to total land area, VOS accounted for 30 percent while Compulsory Acquisition by DAR accounted for only 16 percent.
The GTZ study also showed that about 26 percent of the farmer-beneficiaries nationwide sold their lands.
In Nueva Ecija 41 percent of farmer-beneficiaries sold their land. In Laguna a high 53 percent of beneficiaries sold and mortgaged their lands. The same is true for 26 percent of beneficiaries in Quezon province, and 35 percent in Iloilo province.
Related studies cited by GTZ said that in Southern and Central Luzon, three out of five holders of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) or Emancipation Patents (EPs) have sold their rights or mortgaged and then abandoned their properties without paying.
The study has a similar finding with the recent survey commissioned by the Negros Occidental provincial government that revealed that a high 40 percent of agrarian reform beneficiaries in the said province sold or leased back the lands they acquired through CARP.
The study pointed to the program’s lack of support services and credit. “Technology and support services were needed to make farmer beneficiaries successful. But no government loans were available to them. They borrowed at interest rates of 24.7 percent. In fact, DAR admits that about 3 million beneficiaries out of the 4 million farmer-beneficiaries did not receive any support services,” the study said.
It also criticized the low rate of amortization collection from farmer-beneficiaries. “The collection of amortization payments from farmer beneficiaries has been dismal at 17.8 percent rate. As of end 2005, the estimated collectibles from beneficiaries was P14.3 billion ($334,502,923) while the actual amount collected was only P2.5 billion ($58,479,532),” it added.
Agricultural trade balance deteriorating
In relation to the state of agriculture in the country, the study said that “the agricultural trade balance has had a clear deteriorating trend since the enactment of CARP with the country having transformed from a net agricultural exporter into a net agricultural importer.”
In fact, the study stressed, Philippine agriculture is now in a “state of distress.” At the macro level, the social and economic conditions in the rural communities are not any better than 10 years ago; macro-policies are biased against agriculture.
It also noted that “globalization” has had a negative effect on agriculture. “Worldwide economic trends, like trade liberalization, increasing prices of fertilizers and crude oil, have seriously hurt Philippine agriculture,” it said.
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