Farmers want probe of multibillion DAR-World Bank SPLIT project – updates from the peasant movement of the Philippines

Farmers are seeking an investigation into the status of implementation and achievements of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and World Bank Group’s SPLIT project or Support to Parcelization of Land for Individual Titling. Farmers wanted to know if the said project is contributing to accelerating the actual distribution of land to farmer-beneficiaries or the opposite. The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will ask Congress to exercise its oversight function and probe the SPLIT project.

The project, launched in January 2020, is financed through a $370-million (Php20.4-billion) loan from the World Bank to split or subdivide Collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CCLOAs) covering over 1.3 million hectares of property earlier turned over to about 750,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). “Ang pondo ng SPLIT project ay inutang ng gobyerno sa World Bank at tayong mga Pilipino ang magbabayad nito. Kailangang makita natin ang tunay na epekto ng proyektong ito,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. For this year, DAR has allocated Php6.1 billion or 42% of its Php14.3 billion total budget for SPLIT implementation.

“SPLIT is now the cornerstone of every program and project under the DAR. While the agency is busy splitting collective land titles for the individual proprietorship of ARBs, we also want to know the status of big landholdings and estates under dispute that is pending for distribution to farmer-beneficiaries. Case in point is Hacienda Tinang in Tarlac and Haciendas Murcia and Balincanaway, also in the said province.” KMP said vast landholdings across the country still need to be distributed as they are still locked under private ownership with decades-long unresolved land cases pending at the DAR,” the KMP leader said.

DAR has recently created the Project SPLIT composite team to conduct the World Bank Gap Analysis Study (WBGAS) to determine appropriate interventions. Agrarian reform Secretary Conrad Estrella III said DAR wants to avoid seeing even one farmer being forced to pawn or sell their farm lot as it will defeat the purpose of SPLIT. However, KMP asserts that free land distribution and a comprehensive support services program and not SPLIT will be effective in uplifting the status of ARBs.

KMP has been proposing these components of free land distribution under the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill:

  1. Break up the land monopoly and implement the free, fair, and equitable distribution of the lands and eliminate all forms of oppression and exploitation in farming communities and thereby usher in genuine social justice;
  2. Transform farmer-beneficiaries into efficient producers through the institution of an integrated, comprehensive, and holistic program of support services and other state subsidies to improve their productive capabilities and for the overall agricultural development;
  3. Increase the income of farmer-beneficiaries and raise their standard of living through the promotion of cooperatives and other forms of mutual aid;
  4. Install the social mechanism and practical measures that will secure the lands of farmer-beneficiaries from loss and prevent the restoration of land monopoly; and
  5. Launch the thoroughgoing development of the agricultural sector and lay the foundation for national industrialization.

On March 29, KMP and its chapters nationwide will lead activities for the Day of the Landless 2023. ###

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Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) was founded at a time of great political upheaval and broad mass movement against the tyranny and abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. Hundreds of peasant leaders and land reform advocates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered during the historic founding of KMP on July 24, 1985. After thirty five years, KMP remains as the largest national democratic mass organization of peasants in the Philippines.

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