Guiding paralegals on agrarian reform

By December 14, 2017Stories
Photo: LGU Makilala

In all advocacies, a legal approach to how reforms and positive changes can be introduced to sectors and issues. Legislative policies, court decisions, and landmark Supreme Court decisions can define the direction of reform in the long run, especially on how consequent issues and problems will be dealt with by judicial and legislative bodies.

One of the biggest challenge for paralegals and all legal officers working in the agrarian reform sector, then, is to maximize their experiences to benefit the whole movement.

This can be done by sharing notes and getting insights from other paralegals and legal officers that might have captured unique and useful experiences from their practice of handling cases related to agrarian reform.

Also, consolidating a manual for paralegals – a quick reference for all legal things related to the agrarian reform advocacy – will definitely be useful, especially those who needs refreshing or those who just started working in agrarian reform cases and organizations.

The International Land Coalition spearheaded the creation of “Updates to Agrarian Reform Laws, Rules, and Regulations: A Paralegal Manual”. The 95-page document gives you an efficient resource to all updates to government programs, policies, laws, and even court decisions that is crucial to the agrarian reform advocacy.

For example, the resource provides a quick overview of CARP beyond the June 2014 expiration through these points:

  • “The CARP as amended, has a continuing mandate to cover and distribute all agricultural lands to landless farmers and farmworkers. This is stated in Section 4, Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution. This is also in accordance with the State policy to ‘promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform.’
  • “As mentioned, agrarian reform is a Constitutional mandate. As such, it cannot be considered to have ended until the objective of the CARP, which is the distribution of all agricultural lands to the landless, is attained.
  • “Considered as the centerpiece program of the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration, the CARP was enacted to give life to the social justice mandate of the Constitution, which is the very heart of this fundamental law of the land.
  • “It must be noted that the agrarian reform program as embodied in the CARP/CARPER law has three (3) components: Land Acquisition and Distribution, Agrarian Justice Delivery and Support Services. The agrarian reform program will reach completion only when all components have been achieved. Only then can it be said that the CARP has fulfilled its mandate.
  • “At present, with more than 600,000 hectares of agricultural land still to be covered and countless agrarian related disputes yet to be resolved, the objectives of agrarian reform cannot be considered as completed and accomplished.
  • “R.A. 6657 as amended by R.A. 9700 remains in force as there are no law or issuance repealing the same.
  • “Only the issuance of Notices of Coverage (NOCs) was discontinued starting July 1, 2014. Other components of the LAD are still in effect, and
  • “Other components of  the LAD proceed.”

The manual also gives insights on the implications of mentioned policy changes, laws, and decision. For example, the manual also gives notes on the implications of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s inability to issue Notice of Coverage after the June 30, 2014 expiration:

  • “On June 30, 2014, the authority of the DAR to issue NOCs to private agricultural lands covered under agrarian reform has expired. This means that DAR, temporarily, cannot proceed with the land acquisition and distribution of agricultural lands without NOC as of 30 June 2014, until an executive/ legislative, and/or judicial action enables DAR to issue new NOCs.
  • “The issuance of an NOC starts the process of LAD to transfer the land ownership to qualified ARBs. It informs the landowner that his/her property is being acquired under the agrarian reform program as well as the remedies available to him/her under the law. Once the NOCs have been served/ issued to landowners, DAR can initiate the LAD process.
  • “If DAR is unable to issue NOCs, it cannot acquire and distribute the more than 600,000 hectares of private agricultural land still to be covered and distributed to ARBs. Qualified beneficiaries who pin their hopes on having better lives through cultivating and owning their lands are deprived of their right to a decent living.”

You can read the full version of the manual below:


Note: This report is made with content support from the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development at http://angoc.org/ and the International Land Coalition-Philippines at http://ilc-nes.ph/. You may check out their social media accounts at https://www.facebook.com/AsianNGOCoalition/ and https://twitter.com/ANGOCorg.

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