Charter change to worsen land grabbing

In its public launching, May 28, the newly formed Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM) said Aquino’s Charter change will worsen the widespread land grabbing, land-use conversion, and forced eviction of peasants and rural poor in the countryside.


MANILA – Farmers and supporters condemned the recent moves to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

On Wednesday, May 27, the House of Representatives passed on second reading the resolution seeking to lift constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of land, resources, utilities, and other key industries.

In its public launching, May 28, the newly formed Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM) said Aquino’s Charter change will worsen the widespread land grabbing, land-use conversion, and forced eviction of peasants and rural poor in the countryside.

Farmers from Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, Araneta Estate in Central Luzon, Hacienda Looc, Hacienda Yulo in Southern Tagalog, Tumanduk farmers from Panay, the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, and Mindanao attended the PLRM launch.

Leaders of various organizations joined the farmers, making the PLRM the biggest and broadest movement of land reform advocates.

The PLRM said “the persistent push for the removal of supposed protectionist economic provisions in the Constitution through Charter change would further open the floodgates for the unbridled entry of foreign and local agribusinesses, mining corporations, real estate giants, big ticket eco-tourism projects in the countryside.”

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said land grabbing and dislocation of poor farmers always precede the entry of big investors in the countryside. He cited the cases of the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc in Batangas, the 7,100-hectare Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, the 2,000-hectare Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga, as well as the 36,000-hectare Clark Green City project in Tarlac. Real estate giants such as Henry Sy in Hacienda Looc, Yulo clan in Hacienda Yulo and Ayala Land Inc. in Hacienda Dolores have started converting agricultural lands in these haciendas for commercial and industrial purposes.

Rafael Mariano, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said, “Cha-cha’s 100 percent foreign ownership of lands is directly in contrast with land reform. It removes any remaining pretension of Aquino’s haciendero government on agrarian reform and exposes the President as the brains behind Charter change.”

For its part, independent think-tank Ibon Foundation said greater foreign ownership of Philippine land will worsen the country’s food security and increase peasant landlessness and rural poverty.

Rosario Bella Guzman, Ibon executive editor, said the share of agriculture has been continuously on the decline in the past decades.

Guzman said rural poverty is “a complex combination of backward technologies, environmental degradation, unnecessary vulnerability to weather conditions, and rural monopolies in the means of production.”

Amid the high poverty incidence in rural areas, Guzman said the top 1,000 agricultural corporations in the country earned a combined income of P1.3 billion (US$29 million) in 2013.

The PLRM vowed to “link arms with farmers and the rural poor in the struggle for genuine land reform, in the assertion and defense of farmers’ rights to lands including the launching of direct actions in the face of the looming land-grabbing to be brought by Aquino’s Charter change.” (

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  1. The following is an abstract of the article by UC San Diego Asst. Professor Jong-sung You (School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, titled “Land Reform, Inequality, and Corruption: A Comparative Historical Study of Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.”
    This article explores how inequality increases corruption via electoral clientelism, bureaucratic patronage, and elite capture of policy process through a comparative historical analysis of South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines that shared similar conditions at the time of independence. It finds that success and failure of land reform, which was little affected by corruption but largely determined by exogenous factors such as external communist threats and U.S. pressures for reform, produced different levels of inequality, which in turn influenced subsequent levels of corruption through capture and clientelism. In the Philippines, failed land reform maintained high inequality and domination of the landed elite in both politics and economy, which led to persistent political clientelism, increasing patronage in bureaucracy, and policy
    capture by the powerful elite. In contrast, successful land reform in South
    Korea and Taiwan dissolved the landed class and produced egalitarian
    socioeconomic structure, which helped to maintain state autonomy, contain
    clientelism, promote meritocratic bureaucracy, and develop programmatic
    politics over time.

    1. Source: The Korean Journal of International Studies Vol.12-1 (June 2014),191-224. 2014 The Korean Association of International StudiesHappy reading, Comrades! Don’t let the fascists fool you.

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