More than 18 years ago, in June 1988 President Corazon Aquino signed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law and thus laid the foundation for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The law was passed after nearly a year of heated discussions in Congress. It was passed after the killing of 19 peasants who were members of a demonstration of 15 000 peasants asking for a meeting with the President and under the subsequent pressure of a coalition of 13 major farmers’ organizations who had formed a powerful umbrella group, the Congress for a People’s Agrarian Reform, consisting of one and a half million members. The implementation of the reform did not go smoothly and met, as in other countries implementing an agrarian reform, strong resistance from large landowners. Some used their political influence to prevent confiscation, while others tried to circumvent the reform by illegal land transfers, land use conversion and other illegal means. Furthermore, the landlord dominated Congress delayed persistently the allocation of funds for the implementation of the program. Yet, despite many obstacles the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and its cooperating agencies have accomplished many of their objectives. Some 2 million landless farmers have received a plot of land of their own and about 1 million tenants were given secure tenancy conditions. The reform has improved the wellbeing of the rural society and contributed to socio-economic stability in the countryside. With a coverage of about 40 percent of the rural population and 75 percent of all cultivable land the reform can be considered as one of the most successful in recent times. While some large latifundia are still to be covered, the time has come to reflect about the future role of the Department and its staff once the land acquisition and distribution component of the reform has been completed, i.e. in the post land acquisition and distribution (post LAD) period.
As the experience in...
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