Leasehold farmers have increased by more than 100% since 1988
“Although the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extended with reforms (CARPER) has stricken out the voluntary land transfer (VLT) option through which landowners have been able to retain land ownership by merely transferring their title to beneficiaries of their choice”, IBON said, “the program still has not guaranteed land transfer to tillers substantially.”
According to IBON, public clamor against schemes that allowed landowners to evade land redistribution led to the phasing-out of the VLT mode. However, the circumvention of the amendment by antedating VLT applications submitted 2009 onwards, and the exemption of VLT applications submitted between June 2008-2009 during the 14th Congress deliberations leading to CARPER, still finds 25.9% of the accomplished land acquisition and distribution (LAD) as of March 2013 under the VLT option.
Further, IBON pointed out that while CARPER supposedly focuses on the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) and Compulsory Acquisition (CA) modes of redistribution, a larger 35% of LAD was accomplished through VOS and VLT from 1997-2012, while only 4% were distributed using the CA scheme.
IBON elaborated that most farmers whose lands were ‘acquired’ through VOS and VLT are among the growing number of tenants who enter into lease and leaseback arrangements with agribusiness corporations and former landowners. DAR data shows that leasehold farmers have increased to at least 1,216,430 in 2012 from 555,232 in 1988.
IBON research found farmers and farmworkers leasing awarded land back to corporations or landowners even to the point of getting hired by these entities. Other farmers lease the lands to corporations, organizations, and financiers who have their own pool of farm workers. According to the DAR, there are at least 48,436.9 hectares covered by Agribusiness Venture Agreements (AVA) that include joint venture agreements and contract growing. Aside from this, some farmer beneficiaries or farmworkers are given the option of resorting back to tenancy and obliged to pay a fixed rent for each cropping period.
IBON also said that the CARPER still retains the stock distribution option (SDO) and other non-land transfer schemes of the old CARP. The research group noted that the SDO was one of farmworkers’ decades-old issues with Hacienda Luisita, the distribution of which, up to now remains problematic.