The Value of Multistakeholder Partnerships in Agrarian Reform Advocacy Today, a multistakeholder partnership is being recognized as a more effective advocacy and networking mechanism, especially for bypassed issues like agrarian reform. Its wider represen tation from other groupings or sectors of divergent perspectives and approaches provides critical inputs or opinion to the discussion and analysis of issues or the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects. They are found effective for policy formulation at national and local levels or projects at local level. These multistakeholder or multisectoral formations could create wider ownership and collective accountability for the issue or outputs of activities undertaken. They also help explore possibilities for future collaboration and mechanisms especially for issue resolution and implementation.
Mass support for agrarian reform in the Philippines has generally dwindled since the 1986 People Power Revolution. Politicians who formerly pushed for a genuine agrarian reform have either passed away or changed their view whether it is still a critical requirement for poverty eradication. Land is being treated more of a commodity for development rather than an instrument for equity especially for the landless poor.
Even civil society groups clamoring for agrarian reform have gone separately in the advocacy thus affecting the credibility and strength of their calls. The Congress for People’s Agrarian Reform (CPAR), the broadest peasant coalition formed to call for the passage of a genuine land reform law, dispersed in 1992. Its former members have also reorganized themselves based on differing political directions or approaches.
The issue of agrarian reform itself has lost its momentum and is being given least priority by Philippine government especially in terms of resources. From its original target of completing implementation from 1988 to 1998, it remains unfinished till today with around 26% still undistributed. Most of these are privately owned agricultural lands which face heavy landowner resistance and are thus difficult to transfer to farmer beneficiaries. The dwindling numbers of agrarian reform advocates and the growing indifference towards the issue of land for the landless have led those who remain in the struggle to invoke the support of other concerned sectors. These would include non-peasant groups or non-AR NGOs or civic organizations, such as the indigenous peoples, student/youth groups, church organizations, the urban poor, academe, among others. The experiences of the People’s Campaign for Agrarian Reform or AR Now! in its past advocacy activities proved the effectiveness of these broader coalitions in pursuing genuine agrarian reform. Why persevere with Philippine Agrarian Reform?
The Philippines has witnessed over 400 uprisings since the time of the Spanish occupation, many of them involving tenants who fought against their oppressive landlords. Keeping Agrarian Reform Advocacy Alive
These uprisings continue today, albeit on a smaller scale, emphasizing the intensity of agrarian conflict in the country. This is inevitable considering the highly skewed land ownership pattern where as much as 80 percent of the land is controlled by the richest 20 percent of the Philippine population.
Agrarian reform is thus necessary in the Philippines to redress the inequity of the past that led to landlessness and widespread peasant unrest and poverty. To this day, poverty in the Philippines is mostly seen in the rural areas where two thirds of the country’s poor are found. Agrarian reform would seek to improve the socio-economic conditions of farmworkers and tenants through a more equitable distribution of land. It also aims to preserve ecology, promote food self-sufficiency for the country and usher in agricultural development. Non-government organizations and people’s organizations, thus, had very high hopes when...