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The agrarian reform agenda of the Estrada adminstration will be grounded firmly

on three equally important principles with respect to the rural sector: economic
development, social justice and political democratization. Economic development
involves reinvigoration and re-prioritization of Philippine agriculture within the
country's overall economic development program, rural poverty alleviation (two
thirds of the country's poor are rural poor), and food security.

Social justice involves correction of the historical injustice committed against


millions of landless and near-landless Filipino peasants who have been denied
the right to own the land they till. Political democratization involves increasing
state accountability to its rural citizenry and the extension of effective access to
basic civil and political rights to all citizens throughout society, including
inhabitants of the most remote rural barrios. Firmly grounded on these three
distinct but related principles, the Estrada Administration's agrarian reform
agenda will be carried out in a manner that effectively combines efficiency and
fairness, with state accountability and citizen participation.

1. Completion of Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD)

The Estrada Administration will finish the land reform within four (4) years (July
1998 - June 2002). Republic Act 8532 extends implementation of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another ten years, or until
2008, and provides a P50 billion fund. The Estrada Administration is committed
to completing CARP implementation within four years. This means distributing
the program's remaining balance of 3.466 million hectares of land by June 2002.
Of this 3.466 million hectares remaining for distribution, 1.592 million hectares
are private agricultural lands, for which the Department of Agrarian Reform
(DAR) will be responsible.

Under the previous administration, an average of 200,000 hectares of private


agricultural lands were distributed per year. To meet the target that has been set
by the Estrada Administration, DAR will double the yearly accomplishment rate
achieved by the department under the previous administration, from 200,000 to
400,000 hectares per year. At minimum, this accelerated rate of accomplishment
in turn requires the following:

A. Further Augmentation of the Agrarian Reform Fund

Republic Act 8532 allocated P50 billion for CARP implementation for the
next ten years, but to finish the remaining components of the program, a
total of P111 billion is needed. The Estrada Administration will therefore
work to ensure that an additional P60 billion is allocated for completion of
the agrarian reform program.
B. Speedy Resolution of Land Reform Legal Cases

One of the hallmarks of the previous DAR leadership was the speedy
resolution of legal cases related to land reform implementation. The
amount of legal cases resolved increased from 53 percent under the
Aquino Administration, to 95 percent under the Ramos Administration --
despite the fact that the number of cases also increased from 8184 (July
1987 -June 1992) to 117,487 (July 1992 to end of 1997). Land reform
implementation-related legal disputes are expected to increase even more
in the coming period due to the highly contentious character of the private
estates slated for reform. To maintain the standard of efficiency set by the
previous DAR leadership in terms of resolution of agrarian legal cases, the
incoming DAR leadership will take steps to immediately increase the
number of DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) members from the present
three to nine. In addition, the Estrada Administration will also push for
better compensation packages for agrarian lawyers in order to attract
more legal professionals to the field of agrarian law.

C. Enactment of an Appropriate Land and Water Use Law

Land use disputes have marked CARP implementation over time, slowing
progress and undermining its integrity. Many land use disputes are rooted
in the lack of clear and concrete state policy on land and water use. The
Estrada Administration, and the DAR in particular, will see that appropriate
and effective land and water use policy legislation is enacted at the
soonest possible time. An appropriate land and water use is one that gives
balanced, rational consideration to the country's food security
requirements as well as its industrial-commercial needs, and thus must be
guided by the basic principle that prime (irrigated) agricultural lands should
never be converted to other uses. An effective land and water use policy is
one that will employ a combination of incentives and disincentives, such
as a Land and Water Use Conversion Tax as well as an Idle Land Tax,
and will provide for the creation of a special agency or task force to ensure
that the policy is carried out.

D. Effective Prohibition of Land Reform Reversals

Land reform reversals involving cancellation or confiscation of previously


issued emancipation patents and certificates of landownership awards, as
well as non-installation of land reform beneficiaries continue to plague
CARP implementation. The reasons behind these are complex and every
case has its own distinctive character. To address this problem through
appropriate and effective policy, the incoming DAR leadership will first
undertake an investigation that should determine the extent of the problem
and identify the different operative modes of reversal. An appropriate and
effective policy is one that will give primacy to the right of peasant
beneficiaries to land, but with due consideration to the legal rights of other
claimants.

Land- and water-use conversions as bases for land reform reversals are
rampant in areas of urban sprawl. The enactment of an appropriate and
effective land and water use policy should address this type of problem.

While the Estrada Administration also recognizes the need to allocate land
resources for non-agricultural uses, it also sees the need to take into
equal consideration the plight of farmers in areas where development into
non-agricultural use is inevitable. It will push for legislation to encourage
developers to treat displaced farmers as stakeholders in the development
process and assist them in making the shift from agricultural to non-
agricultural activities (through skills upgrading and partnerships in the
development venture).

At present there were several thousands of farmer-beneficiaries who are


not physically installed on the land, despite the issuance of CLOAS to
them. This situation is the result of strong landowner resistance to CARP
implementation. The Estrada Administration is committed to working to
ensure the fast and proper installation of these farmer-beneficiaries (and
others who may encounter the same problem during its tenure) on the
land duly awarded them.

2. Intensification of Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Development (ARBD)

Of the total CARP funds spent by the Aquino Administration, only 18.37% went to
the land acquisition and distribution (LAD), while 50.53% went to support
services. During the Ramos Administration, the emphasis was reversed: 48.40%
was spent on LAD, while only 18.15% was spent on support services. In
recognition of the interrelated and intertwined character of land reform and rural
development, the Estrada Administration will aim for a balanced fund allocation.

A. Consolidation of Existing Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs)

The previous DAR was able to launch 921 ARCs nationwide, in its effort to
focus support services to selected reformed communities. The incoming
DAR leadership will immediately initiate efforts to consolidate the actual
gains already made while filling in the "gaps" as needed.

B. Expansion of Rural Development Intervention in Non-ARC Areas

Though the ARC concept is laudable, given limited state resources, the
current scope of ARCs covers only about 1 million hectares, effectively
excluding 3.6 million hectares of land reformed rural communities. while
the incoming administration will continue making focused and integrated
rural development intervention in the new ARCs, it will aspire to be as
expansionary and inclusionary as possible in order to take care of other
rural communities as well. This can be done through better coordinative
efforts with other state agencies that have important programs in rural
areas, especially the Department of Agriculture (DA).

C. Improvement of Coordination Between DAR and DA (Department of


Agriculture)

Historically contending, and at times conflictual, relations between DAR


and DA have worked against, rather than in favor of, well-coordinated rural
development interventions. While the DA is widely perceived as the
domain of advocates of "growth without equity", the DAR is widely
perceived as the domain of advocates of "equity without growth". Strained
relations between the DAR and the DA often translate into programmatic
gaps which are detrimental mainly to the rural poor. In recognition of the
potential for this problem to undermine its basic poverty alleviation
mission, the Estrada Administration is intent on fostering better relations
and program coordination between these two departments. The Estrada
Adminstration recognizes that the P120 billion Agricultural and Fisheries
Modernization Act (AFMA) fund allocation, if realized, can be a key factor
in determining the success of its comprehensive agrarian reform agenda.

D. Better Management and Increase of Foreign-Assisted Projects

Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) is a major source of funds for


rural development in reformed communities. The previous DAR leadership
was able to restore the trust and confidence of foreign donors to the
country's agrarian reform program, and to mobilize P22.5 billion in
assistance. Of this amount, P2 billion worth of projects have already been
completed, while P5.5 billion worth are about to be finished. This leaves
the incoming administration P15.5 billion in ODA in various stages of
negotiation. The incoming DAR leadership will carefully manage these
funds in an efficient and transparent manner in order to maximize their
impact in local communities, and to maintain the confidence of foreign
donors.

E. Encouragement of Joint-Venture Business Arrangements Between


Farmers and Agribusiness Firms.

The Estrada Administration will assist farmers, through cooperatives, in


achieving vertical integration in agriculture (i.e. effective control in
research and development, production, processing and marketing of farm
products) to ensure high value-added agricultural processes. This means
that farmers in reformed communities should invest in their own farms
which can be done through their own cooperatives. Historically, however,
poor farmers have been able to invest only to a limited extent. Investments
therefore should come from other sources as well -- both local and
international agribusiness groups. The incoming administration will create
an environment that will attract external investors. In this regard, efforts
must be undertaken to provide institutional building and strengthening for
prospective beneficiaries. Different models of partnerships involving
agribusiness ventures must be explored for the post-land distribution
arrangement between farmers and the processors/traders. The incoming
administration will see to it that the terms of these arrangements will be
fair to all parties involved.

3. Promotion of Democratic Agrarian Reform (DAR)

The Estrada Administration is accountable to all rural citizens. The


implementation process and outcome of agrarian reform program should
contribute to political democratization of the rural polity in particular, and
throughout society more generally. The Estrada Administration is committed to
upholding state accountability to its rural constituency at all times, and allowing
widespread citizens' participation in agrarian reform-related policymaking and
implementation. It is the aim of the incoming administration to contribute to the
strengthening of autonomous peasant and non-government organizations.

At the minimum, these require the following:

A. Meaningful partnership with autonomous societal actors in land


reform and rural development undertakings

Without the active and effective participation of autonomous peasant and


non-government organizations in CARP implementation, it is most likely
that the program will fail. A key to successful implementation of agrarian
reform is the positive and symbiotic interaction between the state and
societal actors. Hence, the incoming DAR leadership will continue to work
with these societal groups within the framework of principled partnership,
i.e. respecting the autonomy of these societal groups at all times. In order
to ensure that pro-land reform actors are more cohesive and coordinated,
an interface mechanism among peasant and non-government
organizations and the DAR must be institutionalized at different levels --
national to municipal.

B. Revitalization of BARCs and PARCCOMs

CARP provides for institutions of interface between the private sector (e.g.
landowners), peasant and non-government organizations and state
agencies. Two of the most important mechanisms of this interface are the
Barangay Agrarian Reform Committees (BARCs) and the Provincial
Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committees (PARCCOMs). Sufficient
representation and effective participation by farmers in these basic local
level groups proved to be vital in successful implementation of land reform
programs in several countries in the past. These communities must
therefore be revitalized.

C. Local governance vis-a-vis agrarian reform

The agenda of land reform and rural development must be integrated into
the agendas of local government units, especially because there are
cases where local government units do not only not work for, but against,
agrarian reform. It is therefore an imperative that an "internal" education
campaign about the Estrada Administration's agrarian reform agenda be
launched among local government officials in the hope of recruiting them
to (land) reformism.

D. Continued "Clean-up" of DAR Bureaucracy

The previous DAR leadership has carried out widespread "clean-up"


campaign within the bureaucracy to flushout corrupt and inefficient officials
and employees. However, there is still a significant presence of
undesirable officials and employees which has derailed, reversed, or
slowed-down land reform implementation in many areas. Thus, the task of
further "cleaning-up" the bureaucracy will be spearheaded by the incoming
DAR leadership.