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THE DEVELOPMENT OF POST WAR PHILIPPINE LAND REFORM: POLITICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS By David Wurfel

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF POST WAR PHILIPPINE LAND REFORM: POLITICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS By David Wurfel
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  THE DEVELOPMENT OF POST WAR PHILIPPINE LAND REFORM: POLITICAL ANDSOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS 1 By David Wurfel. In Second View from the Paddy  , Antonio Ledesma, Perla Q. Makil &Virginia A. Miralao, eds., Institute of Pili!!ine ulture, Ateneo de Manila, #$% Introduction  'e istory of Pili!!ine agrarian !oli(y sin(e inde!enden(e is a sadly monotonous onefor te s(olar, a )itterly disa!!ointing one for te o!eful tenant (ultivator. It is a storyof re!eated initiative from te (enter of government tat did not result in any*erenear te announ(ed (ange in te (ountryside. +!lanations for tis series of ine-e(tual reforms ave varied from insin(erity and (orru!tion to la(k of !easantinterest in getting o*nersi! of te land. 'e most (onvin(ing analysis, o*ever, seemsto relate to te !oliti(al and e(onomi( interests of te to! de(ision makers, toseinitiating !oli(y and su!ervising its im!lementations, and to te so(ioe(onomi((ara(teristi(s of te agrarian systems )eing reformed. 'e (umulative !oliti(al(onseuen(es of agrarian !oli(y also /nd )ot !oliti(al and so(ioe(onomi( e!lanations.Agrarian reform is a (om!le of !oli(ies designed to transform rural so(iety in tedire(tion of greater euality of *ealt and !o*er among grou!s and (lasses, andgreater euality of o!!ortunity for individuals. Were agrarian reform as follo*ed asu((essful revolution it as usually involved te un(om!ensated redistri)ution of land. Amu( more modest attem!t at transformation may )e te (reation of (oo!eratives in*i( small (ultivators are given greater o!!ortunities tan teir large (om!etitors. Butte ty!e of reform on *i( *e *ill fo(us ere is te redistri)ution of tenanted land *it(om!ensation to te srcinal o*ner, land for *i( te )ene/(iary of reform must re!ayte government. Des!ite all te !ermutations in Pili!!ine !oli(y over more tan 0years, tese )asi( elements of land reform ave remained (onstant1 government!ur(ase of tenanted land and its resale to tenants.Pili!!ine land reform as )een furter restri(ted over te years to grain (ro!s1 ri(e and(orn2for domesti( (onsum!tion. +!ort (ro!s ave (onsistently )een eem!ted, teo3(ial argument )eing tat land reform migt disru!t !rodu(tion and tus 4eo!ardi5eforeign e(ange earnings. Pera!s a more im!ortant reason, o*ever, *as tat largelando*ners in sugar, (o(onuts, and to)a((o *ere !oliti(ally too !o*erful to )e tou(ed. 'e s(o!e and nature of te reforms tat were  im!lemented !osed no treat to teinterests of te !oliti(al elite, )ut *ere, in fa(t, !er(eived as strengtening teir!osition. 'e (anges in te (ontent of reform from te #$60s to te #$70s indi(atedte *aning in8uen(e of ri(e and (orn landlords *itin tat elite. Land R!or #ndr Ro$a% and &uirino '1()*+1(,-. Agrarian !oli(y initiatives ad for te most !art )egun in te #$0s under PresidentQue5on *o *as sensitive to te !easant unrest in entral Lu5on and *anted to a!!earto meet some of its demands, *itout too seriously dis(omforting is landlord friendsand allies. 9:is national !oliti(al organi5ation de!ended on lo(al leaders *o *ereusually eiter landlords or teir !roteges.; om!onents of tat !oli(y in(ludedregulation of tenan(y relations, organi5ed land settlement in Mindanao for te landlessof Lu5on and e)u, te long2standing anti2usury la*, issuan(e of free !atents toomesteaders on (ultiva)le !u)li( land, and a <landed estates !oli(y= *i( !rovidedfunds for te negotiated !ur(ase of large oldings for resale to te tenants. # Before World War II, te >ural Progress Administration 9>PA; ad !ur(ased tenantomesites on four estates and te agri(ultural land of t*o more? te area of te sitotaled to little more tan @,000 e(tares.   'e >PA ad also leased te uge 7,000e(tare Buenavista +state *it future !ros!e(t of redistri)ution. But dis!utes a)outtenant rigts a)ounded and none ad )e(ome amorti5ing o*ners. 'e Ameri(an 1  http://davidwurfel.ca/philippines/the-development-of-post-war-philippine-land-reform-political-and-sociological-explanations  <li)eration= of Manila *as terri)ly destru(tive of government o3(es, so tat landedestate re(ords after te *ar *ere eiter (aoti( or noneistent.everteless, te a(uisition of estates )y te >PA resumed in #$67, so tat )y #$C0anoter #$ ad )een !ur(ased amounting to over #0,000 e(tares in addition to tevast Buenavista +state. ver E6 of tis area *as o*ned )y some o3(ial or agen(y of te atoli( ur(. Most of te land a(uired *as in entral Lu5on *ere te :ukre)ellion made many villages unsafe for landlords or teir agents? mu( of te area *asun(ultivated. Fome of te estates *ere !ur(ased from !ersons *ose legal o*nersi!*as in uestion. learly te landed estates !oli(y *as not <land reform= !rimarilydesigned to transform tenants into o*ner2(ultivators, )ut *as a so(ial servi(e agen(yfor landlords *it saky titles or !oor !ro/t ratios. Landlords *o *ere o!!osed toa!!ro!riation *ere usually a)le to sto! it in te (ourts. In fa(t, it *as >PA !oli(y todis(ourage tenant !etitions for estate !ur(ases )y te im!ossi)le reuirement tat!etitioners de!osit an amount euivalent to te assessed value of te land in uestionon te date te !etition *as a!!roved; 'e >PA *as starved for funds, re(eiving no!ost2*ar a!!ro!riation? tey o!erated largely *it )orro*ed funds. +ven *en landedestates were  !ur(ased, te (ultivating tenant *as not likely to )e te main )ene/(iary.Many of te estates ad (as tenants *o in turn su)let to (ultivating sare(ro!!ers. 'e tenants *o *ere allo(ated lots for !ur(ase often ad farms of #0 to C0 e(tares,*ile te average si5e of a (ultivatorGs !lot *as under  e(tares.  Many of te (ultivating tenants *o *ere fortunate enoug to a(uire !ur(ase rigts(ould not a-ord to kee! tem. Des!ite te e!li(it rules against transfer, su( rigtsad )e(ome a salea)le (ommodity. Poor tenants dee!ly in de)t surrendered teir rigtsto (reditors. 'e same !ro(esses tat resulted in (on(entration of land o*nersi! in tePili!!ines generally o!erated *itin te government estates. 'us, large !ortions of te estates under >PA administration (ontinued to )e (ultivated )y sare tenants *itno !ros!e(t of )e(oming o*ners. 'e <landed estates !oli(y= ad sim!ly dis!la(edsome large landlords to (reate many medium si5ed ones. And sin(e te >PA, agovernment agen(y, )e(ame dire(tly involved in te )urgeoning dis!utes over landrigts, tat traditional sour(e of !easant anger and frustration more ui(kly tan )efore!rodu(ed !oliti(al unrest. ot sur!risingly te Bell Mission to te Pili!!ines a!!ointed)y President 'ruman in 1950  (on(luded tat <te land !ro)lem remains te same or*orse tan four years ago.= 'e Bell Mission >e!ort *as, in fa(t, e!e(ted )y many to )e te im!etus for te netstage of land reform. It re(ommended tat <a )road !rogram sould )e inaugurated of a(uiring large estates at fair value for resale in small oldings to tillers of te soil.= Atte same time te re!ort re(ommended e!anded !rograms of agri(ultural (redit,organi5ed land settlement on virgin land, and te im!roved administration of landregistration and omesteading on !u)li( land. +a( of tese oter re(ommendations,less treatening to elite interests, *as )a(ked *it some H.F. aid, )ut not landredistri)ution. 'e H.F. land reform advisor dre* u! a detailed !ro!osal, )ut it *as)lasted )y leading ili!ino (ongressmen, and not even su!!orted )y te H.F. aidmission. In fa(t, in #$C0 te >ural Progress Administration *as a)olised and itsfun(tions transferred to a ne*ly (reated landed +states Division of te Bureau of Lands.o ne* estates *ere !ur(ased trougout te remainder of te Quirino administration,and redistri)ution !oli(y on >PA2a(uired estates dro!!ed even te !retense of !referen(e for te tiller. 'e simulation of land reform *as sus!ended in te early#$C0s. 'is *as te same !eriod in *i( te :uk re)ellion !eaked and ten *as !ut do*n. 'e Li)eral PartyGs !oliti(al elite under Quirino (ertainly did not vie* land reform as a(ure for !easant unrest, toug a num)er of o!!osition /gures did make te(onne(tion. Li)erals *ere, in fa(t, even less interested in land reform in #$C, *en te:uks ad )een largely defeated, tan in #$C0 *en te re)ellion *as at its eigt. 'eele(tion of >amon Magsaysay as !resident in #$C made some di-eren(e in tis regard,o*ever. Land R!or #ndr Ma/%a0%a0 and Garcia '1(,)+*1.  Magsaysay ad )rougt is (am!aign dire(tly to te !easantry in a mannerun!re(edented. After e *as ele(ted, several of is advisors understood te im!ortan(eof taking (on(rete a(tion to meet !easant (om!laints and tus redu(e unrest. Fin(e te<landed estates !oli(y= remained in te Bureau of lands, te aggressive ne*Hnderse(retary of Agri(ulture, Jaime errer, ad an im!ortant role, as did some of te!ro2tenant young o3(ers in te 'enan(y Division of te Judge Advo(ate KeneralGs3(e. In t*o instan(es, in Fan Luis, Pam!anga and Fan Pedro 'unasan, Laguna, *itin afe* monts of MagsaysayGs assuming te !residen(y, te +e(utive 3(e tookinitiative dire(tly to a(uire landed estates. 'e landed +states Division )egan anum)er of negotiations and e!ro!riations, and *itin te estates tey alreadyadministered, dramati(ally in(reased te rate of redistri)ution, giving (lear !referen(efor te /rst time to (ultivating o((u!ants of te land. All tis a(tivity (learly raised tee!e(tation of tenants. During  #$CC te Bureau of lands re(eived ##@ !etitions forte e!ro!riation of landed estates (overing more tan ##,000 e(tares. 6 But tose e!e(tations (ould not )e adeuately met *itout ne* legislation and ne*im!lementing agen(ies. 'e Inter2De!artmental ommittee on land 'enure, a!!ointed)y te President in Mar( #$C6, *orked at unusual s!eed and !rodu(ed a draft of teland reform )ill )y @ May *i( *as immediately introdu(ed into te :ouse of >e!resentatives. At a)out te same time, o*ever, legislation to im!rove landlordtenant relations *as introdu(ed and tis re(eived !riority attention. o a(tion *as takenon land reform in te #$C6 regular session, and it did not even a!!ear on te agenda of te s!e(ial session of tat year.In is #$CC Ftate of te ation message Magsaysay did reiterate is desire for ne* landreform legislation. But 4ust as te President announ(ed tat e *ould take land reformseriously, so did its o!!onents. At every stage of te legislative !ro(ess landlordinterests atta(ked )ot dire(tly and *it su)tle indire(tion. Magsaysay *as neiter so!ersistent nor so skillful. :e never issued a !u)li( statement in favor of any !ortion of te )ill. :is only signi/(ant e-ort *as to (all a s!e(ial session *it te <land tenure )ill=as igest !riority. everteless, te )ill *as almost s(uttled at te (onferen(e(ommittee stage. 'e /nal legislative !rodu(t *as so inadeuate tat Atty. ernandoFantiago, one of te autors of te /rst draft, sent a memo to te Presidentre(ommending tat e veto it and ask for a sim!le a!!ro!riation instead. C   ongressman asas of la Hnion tried to amend te )illGs title at te last minute, so tat it *ould read ironi(ally )ut a((urately  <An a(t de/ning a landlord tenure !oli(y,= >e!u)li( A(t#600 @ , signed )y te President in Fe!tem)er, ad only one im!rovement over!reeisting legislation, a modest a!!ro!riation and autori5ation of a )ond issue. 'e !o*er of e!ro!riation *as more restri(ted tan it ad )een under ommon*ealtlegislation. It *as limited to tat !ortion of individual land oldings in e(ess of 00(ontiguous e(tares, and (or!orate oldings of more tan @00, toug tere *ere nosu( restri(tions on negotiated !ur(ase. Petitions signed )y a ma4ority of tenants in te*ole estate *ere reuired to initiate an e!ro!riation, or negotiations. 'e Land 'enure Autority 9L'A; esta)lised )y te A(t to im!lement tis !oli(y, did not)egin to a(tually fun(tion until January #$C@? Magsaysay ad named a defeated ongressman to ead it. In large !art, !era!s, )e(ause of te administrative resuNeresulting from te (losing of te Landed +states Division in te Bureau of Lands andtransfer of its !ersonnel to L'A, te !a(e of a(tivities slo*ed do*n in early #$C@1 onlyone estate *it #%7 tenants *as !ur(ased. Witin te same @ monts !etitions fromtenants (ame in at a rate of one a day. 7  As!irations ad (learly )een raised )y te ne*A(t, )ut *ere not )eing ful/lled. 9et not all su( !etitions (ould )e regarded asindi(ative of !ure tenant as!irations? tere *ere many (ases in *i( tenants *eremani!ulated )y landlords .*o *anted to sell un!rodu(tive, !artially idle or im!ro!erlytitled land.;Ftrangely enoug, landlords sometimes seemed to favor e!ro!riation over negotiatedsale. 'ey ad friends in (ourt. 'e !ri(e set )y (ourts in e!ro!riation !ro(eedings*ere sometimes nearly dou)le tose of negotiated settlements, disadvantaging tetenant *o ad to re!ur(ase te land at te same !ri(e. 9Landlords *ere !aid in (asandEor negotia)le )onds.; %  >igts of re!ur(ase remained (onfusing *it L' A !oli(yoften failing to !rote(t te a(tual (ultivator. $  nly on estates *ere (ultivating tenants  *ere *ell organi5ed (ould tey )e assured of !riority in land redistri)ution, and most*ere not. +ven *en lots *ere allo(ated, and )efore tey *ere fully !aid for, tetransfer of rigts for (as O es!e(ially to non2(ultivators2*as ram!ant. #0  or (ouldtenants on sugar estates e!e(t to )ene/t from L' A !rograms in any *ay? tere *as aninformal understanding tat !etitions for te e!ro!riation of sugar land *ould not )ea(ted u!on favora)ly. ## Des!ite (onfusions in im!lementation, te L'A in(reased te !a(e of land a(uisitionseveral times over in  #$C7? seven estates *ere !ur(ased. 'e rising num)er of investigations in #$C7 resulted in te a(uisition of #% estates in  #$C% en(om!assingover #6,000 e(tares *it more tan C,00 tenants. But in Mar( #$C7 PresidentMagsaysay died, su((eeded )y is Vi(e2President, arlos P. Kar(ia. Witin a year manyof te o3(ials (ommitted to land reform left te Administration. In te net t*o /s(alyears only @ estates *ere a(uired, and (orru!tion in te !ro(ess )e(ame more*ides!read. # During te time of President Kar(ia tere *as <*at amounts to a stalemate )et*eenlandlords and teir allies in ongress and in te ee(utive de!artments, and teelements favoring land reform.= #  'e o!es of a((om!lisment raised in #$C6 adagain )een dased. 'oug oter agrarian !rograms may ave some*at im!roved te)argaining !osition of te tenant vis22vis te landlord, only an insigni/(ant !ortion of te nationGs tenant farmers *ere on te *ay to )e(oming o*ners. 'e land a(uired forredistri)ution )y te L' A in te /rst C years of its eisten(e amounted to less tan #0!er(ent of te area of landed estates over IF e(tares in te /ve !rovin(es of entralLu5on alone #6 At te rate of !rogress maintained under Magsaysay and Kar(ia it *ould ave takena!!roimately 700 years to re!ur(ase and redistri)ute te #.% million e(tares of tenanted agri(ultural land in te Pili!!ines. #C  'e defeat of President Kar(ia in te #$@# ele(tion *as not, terefore, a great loss tote (ause of land reform. or did it a!!ear to )e any !arti(ular gain. It *as ardlymentioned in te (am!aign, nor *as it referred to at te inauguration of te vi(tor,Diosdado Ma(a!agal. 'oug a (ongressman in te #$C0Gs, Ma(a!agal ad not!arti(i!ated in te land reform de)ate in #$C6 or #$CC, and ad not even voted on te)ill tat )e(ame >.A. #600. #@ But in January #$@ President Ma(a!agal a!!ointed a s!e(ial (ommittee on land reform,eaded )y A(ting Fe(retary of La)or Bernadino A)es, to draft *at eventually (ame to)e kno*n as te Agri(ultural Land >eform ode of #$@. It *as introdu(ed into ongressin Mar( and ado!ted )y )ot ouses in July. Wat ad led te President to issue anemotional (all in is Ftate of te ation Address1 <We must give te tenants li)erty frome(onomi( !eonage, in *i( tey ave long languised=R In !art it seemed to )e tearguments of is to! e(onomi( advisor, Fito >oas, tat land reform *as a ne(essary(om!onent of a strategy for ra!id e(onomi( develo!ment, !ermitting, for instan(e, tetransfer of (a!ital in land to industry. It *as also a!!arent to many tat Ma(a!agalintended to (reate mass su!!ort among tenants, tus insuring is reele(tion. #7  or *ase unres!onsive to te vie*s of Ameri(an advisors.Ma(a!agal *as not te !o!ular leader Magsaysay *as, (oming into o3(e on a *ave of !roreform sentiment. But Ma(a!agal *as a mu( more skillful strategist, usingsu((essfully *at in8uen(e e ad to gain early !assage, even toug te Fenate *asnot under is !artyGs (ontrol. :e ad a!!ointed ederation of ree armersG leader Jeremias Montemayor and Philippines Free Press  editor 'eodoro Lo(sin to is s!e(ial(ommittee, tus el!ing to !rovide some a(tive su!!ort for is legislation in te !ressand from tenant grou!s. And *en te legislation ad not yet )een !assed )y Fenate atte end of te regular session, e (alled seven  s!e(ial sessions of a fe* days ea( untilit *as ado!ted, el!ing to dire(t ta(ti(s from Mala(anang. 'e Land >eform ode of #$@ *as te most (om!reensive !ie(e of legislation everena(ted in te Pili!!ines on te su)4e(t. It reorgani5ed and strengtened landsettlement, small farmer (redit, te dissemination of ne* agri(ultural te(nology, legalassistan(e to tenants and small farmers, and (reated a stru(ture for )etter (oordination
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