Around 20 CSO, academic, and government representatives concerning land, municipal water, ancestral domains, and human rights, participated in the Presentation of the 2014 Philippine Land Reform Monitoring Report on 10 September at the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines Diliman (CSWCD-UPD). Apart from report discussions, the event also aimed to identify possible linkages and collaboration among participants in addressing resources conflicts; and in implementing the recommendations identified in the report.
The 2014 CSO Land Reform Monitoring Report is a collaboration of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), Xavier’s Science Foundation, Inc. – Xavier University (XSF-XU), and UP-CSWCD focusing on conflicts on land, municipal waters, and ancestral domains.
- Four of five cases on land conflicts are ‘violent’ (the highest stage of conflict) which involves physical aggressive actions among parties resulting to killings and harassments.
- Three of four resource conflict cases on ancestral domains are under the ‘manifested’ stage where conflicts are a public issue.
- Intrusions of an international organization in the Philippine municipal waters lead to amending laws on water resource use and management.
- The perpetrators of conflicts are the outside actors (e.g. extractive industries, agribusiness, and real estate developers); while the victims are the indigenous communities, landless farmers, and agrarian reform beneficiaries.
- The common causes of resource conflicts are varying interests in using and managing resources, relative power of conflict actors, institutional failure, and non-inclusive natural resource management.
Recommendations made for the CSOs include further case documentations; prioritization of protection of farmers and resolution of resource conflicts; and enhancing capacities of farmers and indigenous communities in evaluating business contracts offered to them.
Moreover, responsible land governance, establishing monitoring system, and conflict resolution mechanism are recommended for Government’s action.
The event resulted to the following agreements:
- There is a consensus that land conflicts would progress from latent to manifest and even violence given the overlapping land claims and weak governance in all lands but particularly for ancestral domain. Along this line, the participants agreed for the Philippine Government to recognize land right as human right.
- Government agencies led by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and CSOs have agreed to give a special focus on these potential conflicts in three ways: first, setting up of human rights desk in all government agencies having a mandate of governing land and other natural resources; second, the CHR will assign a Commissioner to look specifically on issues related to land rights; and third, the CSOs will assist these government agencies by providing venues for inputs and discussions and other needed support.