Corollary to the main policy of the Philippine Constitution on linking land ownership and use to equitable distribution of wealth and a balanced ecology are the progressive asset reform laws on the alienation of lands and their use, resource conservation and protection, and recognition of the rights of farmers, indigenous communities and other marginalized groups. These progressive asset reform laws included the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), Forestry Code, National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), and Fisheries Code. These reform laws were passed largely through the hard work and sacrifice of many groups from the marginalized sectors with the support of civil society organizations (CSOs). Other laws that impacted positively on the enabling environment for asset reform are the Local Government Code, and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).
Unfortunately, after decades of implementing these laws, much still need to be done to achieve their objectives as well as to improve the situation of their intended beneficiaries — the tens of millions of farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, urban poor, forest communities, and rural women — who continue to live in poverty.
The accomplishment of CARP enacted in 1988 was lagging with an undistributed 697,784 hectares (ha) of land following the expiration of its land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component on 30 June 2014. Further, as of the data of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in April 2015, there still remain pending cases of 15,588 landholdings covering 166,000 ha that have not been issued with Notices of Coverage (NOCs).
Similarly, since its implementation in 1997, the IPRA is lagging behind its targets. This was further exacerbated with the issue of overlapping claims among different land uses – in most cases between agricultural and ancestral domain claims. As an attempt to reconcile conflicting claims between tenure instruments and systems, the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 1, series of 2012 was enacted. However, the JAO only created bottlenecks in the implementation of land laws as there is no clear framework on how the different tenure rights will be protected in such cases. The JAO suspended the issuance of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA), Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) by NCIP, processing/issuance of patents by DENR, and registration of titles by Land Registration Authority (LRA) over identified contentious areas.
Relating to this issue on overlapping claims is the lack of a national framework on land use plan that shall unify sectoral approaches to tenure rights. This leads to more serious impacts of natural disasters brought by unplanned, improper, and poor management of land. Hence, it is imperative for the National Land Use Act (NLUA) to be enacted immediately.
It is in this view that the National Engagement Strategy (NES) of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in the Philippines is pushing for the passage of the NOC Bill, ICCA Bill, and NLUA Bill.
Learn more about these policy agenda of NES towards governance of land and other resources through these new knowledge products: