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Market-oriented Land Reform
After the "corporative land reform" exemplified by Pres. Estrada's Godfather of Land Reform, Danding Cojuangco, now comes "market-oriented land reform".
This is now being introduced into the Philippines by the World Bank's Dr. Luis Cairolo and Dr. Klaus Deininger after supposedly successful implementation in Brazil, South Africa and Colombia. The scheme is now being aggressively promoted by Agrarian Reform Secretary Horacio Morales.
While the "corporative land reform" scheme means transforming the peasant and farm workers tenancy rights into corporate shares, the concept of the "market-oriented land reform" is for the government to take a back seat in implementing land reform. Through this concept, the farmer-beneficiaries go directly to the market and secure the financial support needed to buy the land from the landlord and to develop the lands from the banks.
There is a world of a difference between the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and this concept of the market-oriented agrarian reform program being peddled by the World Bank. In fact, this is worse than CARP.
In "market-oriented land reform," the peasants beneficiaries who have been organized into the Agrarian Reform Centers (ARCs) are paired off to agribusiness corporations that will provide technology, capital and market for new high value crops and for other ventures such as ecotourism.
This is obviously not agrarian reform. From being a little more than a real estate transaction, this scheme will remove all pretensions of social justice and land distribution from the CARP, and turn it into a scheme for land speculation and real estate business.
This concept was earlier proposed in a similar form by Dr. Arsenio Balisacan of UP School of Economics in his paper, "Investing in Equity and Rural Development: Toward an Alternative Paradigm for Financing Land Reform" which came out sometime in 1996. Among Dr. Balisacan's proposals is the decentralization of the implementation of the CARP to the LGUs and land valuation and payment to landowners will be at land market prices.
Why is Mr. Morales, a former activist even, campaigning hard for the smooth adoption of this neoliberal program? The answer is simple for everyone: money.
The World Bank has lined its proposal with at least $10 million for initial implementation. The DAR was not provided enough money in its budget to implement the current CARP targets. This market-oriented program officially frees the DAR and the Land Bank from the burden of financing the CARP.
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