Tuesday, August 11, 2009


(Fourth series)

The Philippines is still primarily an agrarian country. Most citizens still live in rural areas and support themselves through agriculture and allied occupation. Our country has a wealth of agrarian laws to uplift and improve the lives of the vast number of poor farmers in our land. But despite the continues implementation of this country’s beautifully-worded comprehensive agrarian reform law (CARL) for 20 long years already, some of our poor farmers still remained landless and deriving income by hopping from one land to another getting barely enough to sustain them to face another day. It has always been a continuing challenge that they keep on wondering if there will come a time that a new dawn would ever be unfolded for them. Such circumstances tell of the elemental forces of life and death, of men and women who, like Antaeus in greek mythology, need the sustaining strength of the precious earth to stay alive—a land to be called their own. The Government is understandably concerned over the fate of these landless farmers and tillers that the CARPER law offers at least 26 reforms in order to address implementation gaps especially with the Land Acquisition and Distribution component of CARP, enough to spur a new vigor and interest in the implementation of a constitutionally mandated agrarian reform. A law means a rule promulgated by the State and implemented by state officials–a means by which we seek to achieve an end, so a good law is first of all, one that achieves its end. But, like everything in life, law comes at a cost and for law to be good, the cost must be no greater than necessary, and not excessive in relation not to the goal that the law aims to achieve, but to the benefit it actually achieves.

Agrarian Justice

Recognition of Farmer’s Legal Standing

The CARPER law tries to correct those doctrines in the cases of Samahan 53 vs. Mosquera (GR 152430, March 22, 2007) and Fortich vs Corona (289 SCRA 624) by legislating that in cases where regular courts or quasi-judicial bodies have competent jurisdiction, agrarian reform beneficiaries or identified beneficiaries and/or their associations shall have legal standing and interest to intervene concerning their individual or collective rights and/or interests under the CARP even if their group or association is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or Cooperative Development Authority, or any concerned government agency.

Referral of Agrarian Related Cases to DAR

In many areas where the farmers or tenants assert their rights, landowners file criminal cases against them like qualified theft, estafa, arson or civil cases like ejectment. Such cases are meant to harass the farmers from asserting their rights under CARP. Tenants end up jailed because of a complaint by the landowner that he/she harvested coconuts. In order to correct this injustice, the CARPER law introduced another important amendment that provides an automatic referral by the Judge or prosecutor to the DAR for cases that involves farmers. The DAR will certify whether the case is agrarian related or not. The objective is for the farmer falsely accused to avoid suffering unnecessarily court litigation which cost money and time.

No TRO Issued Against DAR when Implementing CARP

The judicial courts cannot issue injunction or restraining order against DAR and other CARP implementing agencies. This is to legislate the Supreme Court’s ruling in DAR vs Cuenca (G.R. No. 154112, September 23, 2004) that Judicial Courts should not be used to hamper the sound implementation of CARP. The implementation of CARP needs political will and the judiciary must cooperate by affirming the revolutionary power of the State to implement agrarian reform. There are two provisions in the CARPER law that talks about this namely:

Section20. “EXCEPT FOR THE SUPREME COURT, no court in the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the PARC, THE DAR, or any of its duly authorized or designated agencies in any case, dispute or controversy arising from, necessary to, or in connection with the application, implementation, enforcement, or interpretation of this Act and other pertinent laws on agrarian reform.” And,

Section 23, “IN CASES FALLING WITHIN THEIR JURISDICTION, no injunction, restraining order, prohibition or mandamus shall be issued by the [lower courts] REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, AND METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS against the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Justice in their implementation of the Program.”

DAR Decision is Immediately Executory

The DAR decision will be immediately executory notwithstanding any appeal to the Court of Appeals. The exception is the issue on just compensation which is really within the jurisdiction of the judiciary. This will speed up the execution of favorable DAR decision pending appeal. According to those I’ve heard in national television, this is another double edge provision which might also be harmful if the decision is against the farmer. This is not true because we have a law that can take care of this situation. It is PD 946, Section 18, which provides: Appeal shall not stay the decision or order except where the ejectment of a tenant-farmer, agricultural lessee or tiller, settler, or amortizing owner-cultivator is directed. This means that in agrarian cases, the decision is immediately executory. But if the decision is against a tenant-farmer, agricultural lessee or tiller, settler, or amortizing owner-cultivator, the decision cannot be immediately executed.

Additional Prohibited Acts on Circumvention of CARP Implementation

The significant addition of prohibited acts focus on the inefficiencies of the DAR offices in the implementation of the CARP like the denial of notice and/or reply to landowners, deprivation of landowners of their retention rights, the delay in the preparation of the claim folders and the payment of just compensation. DAR and CARP Implementing Agencies are also enjoined to submit report, data or document involving the implementation of the CARP and refusal or undue delay is prohibited. A catch-all provision is included, “any culpable neglect or willful violations” of the CARPER law is punishable. Also any farmer violating this act will be disqualified from being a CARP beneficiary.

The penalties have been increased to promote efficiency and deterrent to circumvention of the law. The minimum period of imprisonment is three (3) years and the maximum is 12 years while the minimum fine is 50,000 pesos and the maximum is 1 Million pesos.

Hence, the CARPER policy is to implement CARP with full rigor, with State power and any obstruction by any person whether farmer, landowner or DAR will be dealt by the law. The enforcement of these provisions poses as a great challenge because in the previous years, not a single person was prosecuted successfully for violating the CARL.


Improved Budget for Support Services

The CARPER law allocates 40% of the 150 Billion pesos or 60 Billion pesos for support services, a very important component of CARP. This is a great improvement from the CARL which only provides 25%. Studies show that ARBs who succeed were provided adequate support services by the government.

The CARPER law provides for a clear guideline on where to use the support services like credit, infrastructure, farm inputs and trainings. One improvement is the allocation of budget for the training of farmers to empower and organize them into cooperatives. DAR is mandated to be active in the education and capacity building of farmers.

More Access to Socialized Credit, Subsidies to New ARBs

Thirty percent (30%) or 18 Billion pesos is allocated for credit to ARBs. Six (6) Billion pesos will be subsidies to new ARBs for initial capitalization and 12 Billion pesos will be socialized credit to existing ARBs. Other government financial institutions are mandated to institute reforms to liberalize the access to credit by the ARBs.

Establishment of More Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs)

The CARPER law mandates the DAR to create at least two ARCs in each legislative district. This is an improvement from the previous law which requires only one (1). The ARC strategy has been proven effective in developing successful ARBs. However not all ARBs are in ARCs because of lack of funds. Hence, the DAR is mandated to establish a complementary support service delivery to those ARBs who are not in ARCs.

Expected Harvest, Purchase Orders and Warehouse Receipts Can Be Used as Collateral

Access to credit of farmers is the ability to avail loans from finance institutions like banks which is a big problem with farmers because these financial institutions have a notion that farmers are not bankable. The CARPER law mandates financial institution to accept as collateral of a farmer who applies for a loan for production the following: purchase orders, marketing agreements or expected harvest. Some banks are accepting already the said instruments but others are hesitant. The traditional collateral accepted by banks is land, however banks shy away from CLOA or EP due to the first mortgage to LBP. Thus, the CARPER law denies the concept of farmland as collateral by providing alternative to land as collateral because the issue is how to increase access to credit of ARBs.


Give out what you would like to receive and it will be reflected back to you. If someone has done something wrong to you, give them some affection, some gift of kindness. Even if they do not change, at least, you have changed how you perceive them (abeto a. salcedo, jr.).

Continuation on my next post…..

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