Friday, April 21, 2006

Journey to Mindanao


The activities have done in Mindanao for 15 days, started April 13, 2005 and ended April 28, 2005. The objective from this activity is to understand the complexities of agrarian reform and development in banana plantation in Mindanao. Banana plantation which we visited for exposure was on two provinces, Davao del Norte (first is Pag Asa Barangay, Kapalong Municipality, second is Tibal Og Barangay, Santo Thomas Municipality, third is Kabalona St, Puroknangka, Barangay Grido, Panabo City) and Davao Oriental (San Vicente Barangay, Banay-Banay Municipality). Field visit for exposure have done together with Community Organizing (CO) from Mindanao Farmworker Development Center (MFDC). Beside that, also studied on agrarian reform policy research with Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM) Inc as host organization in Davao City.

Program implementation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP) in Mindanao area (especially on the location for exposure) have different characteristic if we compare with the other location. The difference is because there are landowner who made land donation to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) but also have pre requirement to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to sign the memorandum of understanding on lease back scheme. The lease back scheme is an agreement between agrarian reform beneficiaries and landowner which mention that agrarian reform beneficiaries agree to lease back the land to landowner for 25 - 30 years and renewable on the same time. The agreement also gives the landowner so much other profit. The lease back scheme have been made farmers still became labor on their own land.

The other thins that we use it for best practices experience is people organization when the first time just had activities to struggling for CARP implementation (land distribution) already changed the shape into cooperative. It mean that people organization already success to reform its self, not just focused on land dispute but also have program on production management.

Learning Points

Herewith the learning points from Mindanao which already separated into two groups of actors, peasant and people organization (PO) and Community Organizer (CO):

Peasant and PO


Farmers organized themselves by conduct meeting (massive and ad hoc meeting)

Door to door to every house of farmers very useful for member recruitment.

The PO used the law (CARP) to convince the other farmers to become members.

Leaseback arrangement is not a viable alternative because it simply delay one of the most important processes in agrarian reform - breaking the relationship based on patronage and dependence between farmworkers and landowner.

Local PO use their PO network to monitor the case on national level.

The PO already entered production structuring program stage by change PO into cooperative.

Farmers are not preparing for the worst condition like terminated and suspension (risk analysis).

Farmers are not preparing to cut the political relation of Landowner.

Always trying to find alternative issue to unite the farmers like rural development.

Law understanding is very important for agrarian reform beneficiaries.

For marginalized sectors, the most important issues on policy to them include:

Lack of, inadequate, or inequitable access to or control over resources.

Non implementation or violation not only of their civil and political rights but also of their social, economic and cultural rights.

Lack of or inadequate mechanisms to ensure democratic participation in policy - making or decision - making processes affecting people's lives.

Not all problematic condition may be considered as policy issues. These are issues which do not require change in policy or in its implementation or any government intervention for its resolution.

If the government agency not implementing a legislation or administrative measure and the use of negotiation or dialogue to resolve an issue, we could classify it to informal or implicit policy.

Triggering factors are events or incidents that may result in swaying public opinion in favor of or against the position taken or getting the desired support of the target policy makers.

The state levels of obligation on right are to respect, to protect and to fulfill.

There is a big gap between international issue and grass root.

The example from direct impact from trade liberalization is very important for grassroots education.

Use the fact to support the issue.

Selling and renting the land are several weakness of CARP implementation because lack of services, capital and market penetration.

Understanding of Points Identified

Farmers organizing started by community organizer (CO) together with some farmer leaders for the first farmer struggle movement. Afterwards, community organizer and farmer leaders conducted meeting intensively with the other farmers and explained on Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Another method to recruit farmers as members of PO was done by directly door to door for CARP propaganda. Law instrument became the most important factor for farmer rights empowerment which actually already protected by law.

Using lease back scheme actually just a strategy from the plantation company or landowner to keep control the plantation land so have no impact to the profit which they already got for long time before. Leaseback scheme made farmers still become labor on their own land and also will cause withdraw the farmer status as agrarian reform beneficiary because the farmer not cultivates the land productively.

Farmer organizing was not always working properly all the time. Sometimes, community organizers have to face with internal conflict on people organization. The other obstacle on organizing is landowner resistance who always trying to against land reform struggle. Those obstacles made community organizer have to find alternative issue to unite the farmers. The discussion in the community not always on land reform issue but sometimes they discuss the others issue, like rural development. The community organizer just use the others issue as a tool to unite and still on the first final objective, land reform.

Using alternative issue also could use to make alliance with government official who not support on CARP implementation. Landowner is actually almost similar with land cartel because landowner have powerful of political relationship with the government on every level to protect their assets.

CARP implementation is really need pressure from the local till national level and that's why farmers also should have their own network till national level to monitor the case handling on national level.

Liberalization and/or other international issues need to show the direct impact as a fact on the field for public education.


Law comprehension by farmers becomes the most important factor when the farmers have to face with Plantation Company and/or landowner, especially when the Plantation Company and/or landowner use lawyer to represent them. Leaseback scheme on CARP implementation become one real example for farmers who actually have been put in trap on legal mechanism which used by the plantation company and/or landowner (on this case, poverty is not a dominant factor). Marsman case could show us how farmers could not understand the clause on the agreement, so the farmers just sing the agreement without know what will happen to them. The farmers will realize that the plantation company and/or land owner cheated the farmers by using the agreement which the farmers already signed it when the plantation company and/or landowner want to install the agreement.

The farmers and community organizer looks like not preparing to cut the political relations of landowner. Actually, the political relation whom landowner build was political relations based on money. Landowner always give money on certain amount to government official from local till national to protect the assets. The other way to make more powerful on political relations is by take over the strategic position on the government, like become Mayor and/or congressman. The political relations become the main obstacle on CARP implementation. Farmer struggle more often just stop on promises and delay the case.

Liberalization issue and/or other international issues still just stop on discourse, not touch on real needs on the field. The discussion more often on technical agreement but not show the fact. Those are why there is a big gap between international issues and local issues and make minimum farmers participation on international issues.


Post a Comment

<< Home