Magazine article New Internationalist

Forbidden Territory: Structural Adjustment Has Taken Centre Stage in the Philippines and Left the Change That's Really Needed, the Redistribution of Land, in the Wings

Magazine article New Internationalist

Forbidden Territory: Structural Adjustment Has Taken Centre Stage in the Philippines and Left the Change That's Really Needed, the Redistribution of Land, in the Wings

Article excerpt

THE Philippines is a farming nation. Three-fifths of its population live and work on farmland. The vast majority of them-70 per cent-earn too little to afford a proper diet.

The reason has nothing to do with the amount of food they grow. It's because only 5 per cent of farming families own around 80 per cent of the land-the vast majority of the rest are landless or sharecroppers.

For over a quarter of a century this injustice has spurred armed rebellion. Every President of the Philippines has come into office by promising land reform: none has delivered. This is because the Congress is dominated by large landowners and the Presidents themselves owned hefty chunks.

The unrest that built up under President Marcos (top left) was defused by the Corazon Aquino (middle left)-the next President-whom people believed would give back their land. Instead the land-reform promise took a back seat to coup threats, import liberalization and debt rescheduling. Farmers were sacrificed to the concept of 'national recovery'.

Progress under the current President Ramos (bottom left) has been slight. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP) has redistributed 30 per cent of the 10.3 million hectares identified for reform. These have been mainly Government-owned and public lands, leaving the large private landowners untouched. Critics say the Programme was 'designed' to fail because those who enacted it into law were the same landowners whose lands would be targeted by CARP. …

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