Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This land is whose land?

Land reform, it seems to me, is one issue only a disinterested youth with no independent income can have a totally objective, non-partisan view. One's bias is automatically dictated by one's position in the society.

If you or your family owns a sizeable property yourself, you'll most probably be decrying the economic efficiency lost by dividing properties and distributing them to farmers who don't even have the capital to develop the land themselves. Conversely, if you don't own land, you'll probably be incredulous of the seeming gall of landlords to selfishly hold on to property through every loophole they can see in the law.

In the case of the Sumilao farmers and their demand for their ancestral land in Bukidnon, it is probably correct to say that when viewed strictly in terms of potential economic contribution, at least in the the short term, the land in question is better off ending in the hands of San Miguel than the farmers who marched cross-country.

Many people are of the above opinion and some columnists have even started questioning the "landless" credentials of the farmers, like Emil Jurado in today's column.

The first time I heard of the march by the farmers, my first thought was that it was futile. After all, had there not been a final Supreme Court Case decided against them? I thought only God or a revolution can give them back the land. But, in fact, there is a solid possibility that they have a valid case that might win them back the land.

Here's the lowdown of the story: To save the land from land reform, the Quisumbings promised to convert it from agricultural to agro-industrial use in five years' time. They, however, failed to deliver on the promise and instead sold it to San Miguel, which plans to set up a piggery on the property.

As Dean Bernas points out here, the farmers have a valid case in saying that because the Quisumbings did not deliver on their promised land conversion of the property to agro-industrial use, the land conversion should be revoked.

Meanwhile, DAR Secretary Pangandaman has asked the farmers to write a position paper, which the farmers, I think, submitted to the secretary a couple of days ago.

With all the incendiary and highly emotional quality of this Sumilao issue, I cannot help but think former President Corazon Aquino could have spared the nation the emotionally draining debate on land reform if she only unilaterally parcelled off the land in 1986 during her revolutionary tenure as president. Instead of discussing weighty issues on how to move the Philippines forward in the highly competetive global economy, here we are in the great age of the global knowledge economy still debating on what to do with land, that primary source of wealth of a bygone era.


stuart-santiago said...

my mother inherited 25 hectares of riceland from her parents who inherited it from their parents. because of land reform, my mother was allowed to keep only 7 hectares, the rest was parcelled off to tenant farmers. masakit para sa nanay ko, pero okay din lang, ang batas ay batas, at totoo namang the farmers deserve to own the land they till. but what really gets our goat is the way the really BIG landowners are the ones who get away with doing a quisumbing and now a san miguel. why do our presidents allow this? because they're big campaign contributos? no wonder walang mangyari sa bayan natin.

Ronnel Lim said...


lalo pa if your parents didn't even inherit the land but bought the property with hard-earned money and the property just ends up for land reform.

Land reform is President Cory Aquino's one great missed opportunity. If there's one president who could have done land reform right, it was she and her revolutionary government.

Danton Remoto said...

hello, danton remoto here. i just read your blog about ang ladlad and me written 2,000 years ago. thank you.

pls be rest assured i am running as a senator in 2010 and all those phantom voters will campaign for me.

1. as for abalos, where is he now? 2. and the presidential political affairs officer who blocked ang ladlad?
3. and the comelec legal chief who blocked my senatorial bid?

1. stained with scandal = resigned
2. ill with a spinal column ailment = resigned
3. gunned down = dead

The coast is clear for 2010. For ang ladlad as party list and for my senatorial run in 2010, expect a landslide.

Ronnel Lim said...

hi Danton,

Saw you at one committee hearing chaired by Mar Roxas a couple of weeks ago. What were you doing there? Acclimatizing for 2010?

I didn't know those who oppose Ladlad get such unfortunate ends. If only Malacanang was involved...

Danton Remoto said...

As of November 2006, or six months before the elections, national surveys showed that ang ladlad would get two seats in congress -- at least. Since I was perceived as Oppositionist, of course they have to block me.

I was at the Senate because I actually work there, twice a week. Acclimatizing myself, also :-)

The surveys for senatorial candidates will come out in March of 2008. And then you will see what I mean when I said that we are heading for a landslide.

Abalos, the unemployed Abalos, was dead wrong when he said I did not have a national consttituency.

congratulations. you have an interesting blog, next time you see me, let us chat over coffee. i will tell you juicy political news that would, if write them here, land me in jail for libel :-)


Ronnel Lim said...

yup, will do that.