Agrarian Reform

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AGRARIAN REFORMBy: Prof. Fernando R. Pedrosa, LL.B, Ph.D. UST CRS, 1st Sem., SY 2009-10 2009-

BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF AGRARIAN REFORM Historically, agrarian-related remedies agrarianextended by past regimes and administrators proved to be totally unable to fulfill the promise of alleviating the quality of life of the landless peasants. peasants.

The land laws have invariably contained provisions that enabled powerful landowners to circumvent the law, or even use the law to sustain and further strengthen their positions in power. power.

1. Pre-Spanish Era Pre- Land was not unequally distributed before the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Philippines. - The notion of private property was unknown then. then. - The community (barangay) owned the land. land.

2. Spanish Period (1521-1898) (1521- One of the major initial policies of the governorship of Legazpi was to recognize all lands in the Philippines as part of public domain regardless of local customs. customs. - As such, the crown was at liberty to parcel out huge tracts of Philippine lands as rewards to loyal civilian and military as rewards. rewards.

- In effect, communal ownership of land gradually and slowly took the backseat. backseat. - Private ownership of land was introduced. introduced. - With this arrangement, every municipal resident was given his choice of the land for cultivation, free from tax. tax.

- Large tracts of uncultivated lands not circumscribed within a given municipality were granted by the Spanish monarch to deserving Spaniards. Spaniards. - This kind of ownership became known as the encomienda. encomienda.

The encomienda system in the Spanish colonies began as a result of a Royal Order promulgated in December of 1503. 1503. By virtue of this Royal Order, encomiendas were granted to favor Spanish officials and clerics who were entrusted the responsibility to look after the spiritual and temporal developments of the natives in a colonized territory. territory.


In return for such a duty, the encomiendas enjoyed the right to have a share in the tribute (tributo) paid by the tributo) natives. natives. - Legazpi himself had granted encomiendas to the friars, like the Agustinians in Cebu and Manila. Manila.

- Almost all the grants that Legazpi extended to the Spanish officials and friars were confined to what would eventually become the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Bulacan. Bulacan.

- Much later, in place of the encomiendas, the Spanish authorities began to group together several barangays into administration units. units. - They termed these units as pueblos or municipios which were governed by gobernadorcillos. gobernadorcillos. - Together, the cabezas and gobernadorcillos made up of the landed class known as caciques (landed class). class).

- At the passing of time, the Filipino caciques intermarried with Spaniards. Spaniards. This gave such class as mestizo cast which exists to this day. day. - Through this enviable position, the cabezas the gobernadorcillos gained more and more stature or prestige with the Spanish civil and ecclesiastical authorities, and the common people. people.

- In time, the caciques were given the prerogative of collecting taxes as well. well. - This act vested in them great power. power. - Certainly, this did not help to endear them to the ordinary people. people.

- Caciquism as an institution became deeply rooted in Philippine soil. This paved the way to soil. many present-day agrarian problems and presentunrests. unrests. - As the cacique system grew, it also became more oppressive. oppressive. - This brought about colonial uprisings during the 19th century, which tended to occur in the areas with much agricultural activity such as Central Luzon. Luzon.

- Agrarian-related problems were the only Agrariansource of major conflicts during this time. Land was available in the entire archipelago. - The major sources of conflict and rebellion were really the harsh Spanish impositions, such as: tributo, polo, as: encomienda, etc. etc.-

- During the 19th century, several developments occurred that solidified the land tenure system, and aroused antagonism over its injustices and inequalities. inequalities. -

- Since the Spaniards did not levy a land tax or a head tax (cedula), and few cedula), records of land-ownership were kept, the landSpanish government issued two Royal Decrees: Decrees: decreto realenga (1880) and 1880) the Maura Law (1894) 1894) - These decrees ordered the caciques and natives, to secure legal title for their lands or suffer forfeiture. forfeiture.

The Filipino peasants, either ignorant of the processes of the law or of the SpanishSpanish-written instructions, were just slow to respond. respond. The landowners (caciques) were quick to react. react. They did not only register their own landholdings but also took advantage of the ignorance of the peasants, by claiming peasant lands adjacent to their own holdings. holdings.

It was estimated that 400,000 Filipino 400, peasants were left without titles. titles. No option was left for those dispossessed because documented titles to the land prevailed over verbal claims. claims. Hence, most Filipino landed peasants became mere tenants in their own lands. lands.

The Royal Decree of 1894 (Maura Law) deprived many Filipino peasants of their own lands through scheming and treacherous ways of both Spaniards and caciques. caciques.

Other strategies of dispossessing peasants of their landholdings were: 1. Outright purchase at a low price of real estates (realenga) by a Spaniard or a (realenga) cacique, from a badly-in-need peasants. badly-in2. Mortgage system (pacto de retroventa); this is equivalent of todays mortgage system (sangla).

The mortgage system is equivalent of todays mortgage system (sangla), where sangla), a landowner who has loaned a peasant some money becomes this peasant landlord. landlord. This happened simply because the system required the land to be collateral. collateral. While the peasant had not paid back his loan, he paid the landlord rent for the use of his own land. land.

Another source of land-related conflict by landthe late 19th century was the friar lands. lands. Many farmers questioned the amount of land in grant given by the Spanish crown to the religious orders (i.e. Augustinians, (i. Dominicans, Franciscans, and Recollect Orders). Orders). Tenants (inquilinos) paid tax termed as inquilinos) canon to the friars. friars.

3. Philippine Revolutionary Government (1898(1898-1899) - After the first Philippine Republic was established in 1899, the government of 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo declared its intention to confiscate large estates, esp. the friar esp. lands. lands.

4. American Regime (1898-1935) (1898- The Americans, considered by Filipino revolutionists, as messiahs (liberators from Spanish colonial rule), finally unmasked their true color. They color. themselves became the new colonizers by virtue of the Treaty of Paris (Dec. 10, (Dec. 10, 1898) 1898).

The Treaty of Paris ended the SpanishSpanishAmerican War, and Spain ceded the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico to America. America.

Despite the apparent desire of American government to improve landland-tenure situation of the country, following land laws and policies did help in any way: way: 1) Treaty of Paris 2) Land Registration Act of 1902 3) Public Land Act of 1907 4) Cadastral Act of 1907 5) Friar Lands Act of 1907

the the the not

5. Commonwealth Era (1935-1946) (1935- The government headed by Manuel Quezon, passed and implemented the Rice Tenancy Act of 1933 (i.e. Act No. 4054). - Its purpose was to regulate the share tenancy contracts by establishing minimum standards. standards.

- The Act provided for better tenanttenantlandlord relationship, a 50-50 sharing of 50the crop, regulation of interest to 10% per 10% agricultural year, and safeguards against arbitrary dismissal by the landlord. landlord. - The desire of Quezon to placate both landlords and tenants pleased neither. By neither. early 1940s, thousands of tenants in 1940s, Central Luzon were ejected from their farmlands, and rural conflict was more acute than ever. ever.

6. Japanese Occupation (1941-1945) (1941- The Japanese occupation had a tremendous impact on the agrarian issue. issue. From the ranks of the peasant and labor organization, and from the merger of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Socialist Party emerged the HUKBO NG BAYAN LABAN SA HAPON (HUKBALAHAP). (HUKBALAHAP).

- The HUKBALAHAP was headed by a charismatic peasant leader, Luis Taruc. Taruc. - In addition to fighting the Japanese, the Huks also took upon the cause of the peasant against the landlords who often collaborated with the Japanese to maintain their dominant position. position.

7. Third Philippine Republic a. Roxas Administration (1946-1948) (1946- In 1946, Roxas proclaimed the Rice Share Tenancy Act of1933 effective throughout the country. - R.A. No. 34 of 1946, known as No. 1946, Tenant Act, provided for a 70-30 70sharing arrangements, and regulated shareshare-tenancy contracts. contracts.

b. Quirino Administration (1948-1953) (1948- There were no agrarian reform laws passed during the Quirino administration. Instead, the agrarian reform policy of his predecessor was continued but with little success.

c. Magsaysay Administration (1953(19531957) - This administration signed into law two landland-related bills: the Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954 (R.A. No.1199), and Land Reform Act of 1955 (R.A. No. 1400).

- The Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954 allowed tenants to shift from share tenancy to leasehold. leasehold. - In leasehold system, a tenant pays for a fixed amount to the landlord instead of the va