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1.79MB - ABK3 LEAP
ABK3 LEAP
Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection
to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane Areas
Land Reform Implementation in Selected
Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications to
Child Labor
Volume I - Integrated Report
V
LAND REFORM
IMPLEMENTATION
IN SELECTED
SUGARCANE FARMS
AND ITS
IMPLICATIONS TO
CHILD LABOR
Volume 1 - Integrated Report
2015
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SOCIAL ACTION AND RESEARCH
FOR DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, INC. (UPSARDF)
RESEARCH STAFF
Emmanuel M. Luna, Ph.D.
Project Director
Leah B. Angeles
Leticia S. Tojos, Ph.D.
Research Associates
John Erwin S. Bañez
Anna Liza R. Magno
Case Study Writers
ABK3 LEAP RESEARCH PROGRAM STAFF
Jocelyn T. Caragay
Program Director
Ma. Theresa V. Tungpalan
Program Associate
Josefina M. Rolle
Research Associate
Maricel P. San Juan
Administrative/Finance Assistant
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Research on Land Reform and Child Labor
The agrarian reform program of the government is a ground-breaking initiative, considering its
compelling social justice component. In a society where there is huge inequitable distribution of
wealth and resources, land redistribution must be viewed as the core component of the agrarian
reform program. Aiming to respond to social inequity, it envisions a future where farmers are
free from the bondage of the soil. However, one emergent concern regarding land reform is its
implications to child labor, particularly children working in sugarcane farms.
As part of the ABK3 LEAP researches on child labor in sugarcane farming, this study focuses on
the implications of changes in land tenure arrangements to child labor and the situation of
children of families who have benefited from the land reform program. The research presents
the different modes of land reform implementation in selected sugarcane communities of
Batangas, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Davao del Sur and its implications to child
labor.
The research aims to:
 review the socio-economic situation related to children in the research areas where
land reform in sugarcane was implemented;
 describe the process and extent of implementation of land reform in sugarcane
farms;
 identify the effects of land reform on children in sugarcane farms as perceived by the
parents, land reform implementers and other service providers; and
 assess the current state of land reform implementation and its policy and practical
implications to child workers in sugarcane farms.
Linking Land Reform and Child Labor
Earlier studies have explained the reasons why the phenomenon of child labor in agriculture
persists despite various efforts against its proliferation. Bar and Basu (2009) argued that “child
labor increases way past the value of average landholding and declines well before the observed
maximum landholding.” This means that beyond a certain point, the incidence of child labor in a
household declines as the land owned by the family continues to rise. Thus, the inverted-U
principle is used to explain the relationship between farm size and child labor. As the
landholdings of the household continue to increase, there will be a point, or a threshold, when
the farmer would not be sending their children to the farm, but instead allow them to
concentrate in education, recreation and other wholesome activities(Bar and Basu, 2009).
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page iv
Operational Framework
A systems approach is used in framing the relationships among the variables of the study. It
starts with the CONTEXT or the situation of the communities where land reform was
implemented. INPUTS include the program and resources from the government and other
institutions that provided support to the community such as the land reform program and other
related services. How the land reform program was implemented constitutes the PROCESSES.
The OUTCOMES of the processes are the changes that took place after the implementation of
the program, including possible changes in the children’s situation . The implications of the land
reform implementation serve as the FEEDBACK to the outcomes, processes, inputs and context.
It is construed that land reform implementation may lead to some improvements in the
children’s situation
Methodology
The research adopts the qualitative, descriptive and cross sectional approach using case studies.
Consultations with the partner agencies were conducted in selecting the 12 communities for the
case studies. Data gathering took place from February 2014 to early June 2014. This was done
through review of secondary materials, key informant interviews (KIIs), focus group discussions
(FGDs), and ocular survey. In addition, the research staff attended a forum conducted by the
sugar planters to discuss guidelines on the engagement of children in farming and an academic
forum on the impact of land reform.
In each community, five FGDs were conducted with different participants. These include the
agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), non-agrarian reform beneficiaries, child workers, young
adults who were former child workers, and the planters of individually managed farms and
cooperatives. The total number of participants in the FGDs is 651: 30% land reform
beneficiaries, 20% non-beneficiaries, 21% children working in the farm, 16 % adults who used to
be child workers and 13% farm managers and officers of cooperatives and corporate farms.
Process and Extent of Land Reform Implementation in Sugarcane Farms
The comprehensive agrarian reform law ended in June, 2014. However, the implementation of
the program continues since all areas that have been given Notice of Coverage before June 30,
2014 will be distributed. In the 12 research areas, land distribution was done through the
mother CLOA. The sizes of the land distributed to the farmers ranged from 0.25 to 3.0 hectares
which are not viable for efficient sugarcane farming and for reducing child labor. Small farms
are not efficient to enable farmers to engage in productive sugarcane farming. With inadequate
income derived from small farms, the families are not able to overcome poverty. Poverty is one
of the major push factors that drive children to work in the farm . Unlike rice and corn farms
that can be managed well by the farmers even if they are small in sizes, sugarcane farming
requires larger sizes to make production more economically viable.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
v
In the research areas, land reform in sugarcane is characterized by slow implementation. In
many cases, it has not been fully implemented. Among the problems and issues confronted by
land reform implementation are the identification of beneficiaries, technical problems, lack of
awareness, loopholes in the law itself and the lack of preparation among farmer-beneficiaries on
this change in tenurial status. Although the economic status of the ARBs changed from laborer
to farm owner, their outlook remained as that of a farm worker without any notion of the
necessity to plan and make decisions on how to manage their property. They also lacked the
knowledge and skills in farm and financial management. There were ARBs who had no financial
and administrative capacity to operate the land parcel given to them. This was one of the
reasons why many farmer-beneficiaries were not able to sustain sugarcane farming by
themselves. Some of them mortgaged their farm lots to other ARBs or capitalists who have the
resources to make the land productive.
Moreover, the implementation of the land reform program also hindered by landowners who
refused to recognize the program. At the same time, internal conflicts among the beneficiaries
tended to slow down program implementation. Coupled with this, the distribution of the
sugarcane land was also undertaken without adequate support programs to assist small farm
owners.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) focused on distributing lands to the farmers.
However, support services were inadequate to meet the needs of the farmer-beneficiaries. In
several cases, the farmer –beneficiaries claimed they experienced only land and titling services.
Credit provision, technical training, organizing and other services were not provided. This
unpreparedness among small farm owners is construed as “forced entrepreneurship” (Fabella,
2014).
The presence of organized farmers who collaborated or petitioned for land transfer, as well as
landowners who voluntarily offered their land for distribution facilitated faster land transfer
from the landowners to the farmers. As shown in the cases, the most significant facilitating
factor that led to the smooth implementation of land reform was the collaboration of
landowners to voluntarily sell their land. The organized efforts of the beneficiaries and the
assistance provided by DAR also facilitated land transfer. Other factors that contributed to the
program were the support of government and non-government entities in capacity building,
loan provision, and technical assistance in farm and financial management; strong kinship
relationship, cooperation of the beneficiaries and other stakeholders; high level of awareness
regarding existing policies for the protection of the rights of children among the parents, school,
LGU officials and the children themselves; and the organization of small sugarcane planters to
protect the interest of its members.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
vi
The Effects of Land Reform on Children Working in Sugarcane Farms
The transfer of land to the farmers did not necessarily lead to the reduction of child labor in
sugarcane farming. The new sugarcane farming system that emerged can either reduce or
induce child labor, depending on the arrangements that evolved among the stakeholders.
The change in the land tenure theoretically transformed the hired workers into farm owners and
farm managers. With increased farm income, improved family well being is expected. However,
as shown in the cases, this was not the normal outcome. Since the scope of work in sugarcane
farming is extensive and cannot be done completely by adult family members, other household
members are mobilized to help in the farm, including children.
Though very few, there were rich farmer-beneficiaries who got the same size of land as the
other farmer –beneficiaries in the community but managed to have some capital generated
through other sources aside from farming. As they acquired more lands through lease
arrangement, they became the new landlords or "ariendador". In ariendo, the CLOA farmerbeneficiaries decided to lease the land they acquired through land reform due to lack of capital
and other support services. The "ariendador" manages the farm and gets the proceeds of the
farm. The Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) farmer-beneficiaries can be hired as a
farm workers and get paid as regular hired workers. In some cases, prenda is adopted instead of
ariendo. Prenda is a system where the farmer beneficiaries relinquish their ownership of the
land to another person in exchange for a fee of about P 100,000 per hectare for a duration of
five to ten years. The farmer-beneficiaries can take back the land if they can pay back the
amount.
In the corporate farming system, the sugar farm management is done by a group of people or
corporation who was able to gain or regain control of the land distributed to farmerbeneficiaries. The corporation was able to “own” lands by buying the rights from the farmer
beneficiaries or by leasing the land. An indigenous system is the kin-based block farming where
the farmer beneficiaries work together in the farm they separately own but they collectively
engage in farm work . The group members are related by kinship and are not organized formally
as cooperatives. They contribute equally for capital inputs and get equal share in the net
income.
The most common system of farm management is through cooperatives. The CLOA holders
leased the farm to the cooperatives that they formed. They can also work as hired workers and
get paid for it. These cooperatives are able to avail of the needed support services provided by
government agencies and non-government organizations such as credit facilities, technical
support and education programs to help sustain the operation of the plantations.
Child labor still exists in sugarcane lands that were distributed to the farmers through land
reform. In 11 out of the 12 cases, there are children who are still engaged in farm work. The
most common activities are planting, preparation of planting materials, weeding and making
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
vii
errands in the farms such as bringing food and water. These activities are considered less
hazardous. The children and the parents said that the children work in the farm when there are
no classes, such as weekends and holidays.
Participation in hazardous activities such as application of fertilizer, plowing and harvesting are
still done but in a limited scale, usually among boys aged 15-17. The involvement of children in
sugarcane farming is acceptable to the parents. This only goes to show that mere transfer of
land to the farmers is not a guarantee for a child labor-free farm. As admitted by a provincial
agrarian officer, child labor under the land reform program is not monitored or tracked for
possible support services. The land reform program is silent about child labor reduction .
Under specific circumstances and to a limited extent, there was perceived reduction in the
number of child workers and the work hours spent by children in sugarcane farms under land
reform. Child labor reduction is possible under land reform in sugarcane if there is an enabling
environment that discourages parents from allowing or bringing their children to the farm. If
the farm sizes are large enough, this will enable the farmers to have sufficient income. The
estimated land area when child labor declines is estimated to be three acres (Bar and Basu,
2009). As the landholdings increase, the income generated by the household also increases and
can help farm families overcome poverty.
Furthermore, because of awareness of child’s rights, there were cooperatives or corporations
that adopted the policy of not involving the children in the farm. The children cannot be directly
hired by the cooperatives to work. This entails strict monitoring because, again, the parents
working as hired workers can mobilize their children or allow their children to help them in the
farm.
There were claims that fewer children work in the farms now but this was not solely attributed
to land reform. The figure cannot be quantified because there was no baseline data prior to
land reform implementation. However, the adult participants in the research (parents and the
non-beneficiaries) observed that there was a decrease in child labor as compared to ten years
back. They attributed this more to the efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment
(DOLE) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Child Fund and Educational
Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) which advocated against child labor.
The study affirms that child labor in the farms is rooted to the families’ poverty situation and
children’s socialization process. According to the children, they work in the farm because they
want to earn money to help their parents. For the parents, the children work in the farm
because they are forced by circumstances. Children provide additional work force.
Land reform resulted to additional income for farmers who continued to own and managed the
farm. However, it was not enough for them to get out of poverty. Generally, the children also
derived income from farm work. The leasing arrangement by the CLOA holders enabled the
farmer-beneficiaries to generate income from the lease as well as earn additional daily income
when they worked as hired workers. With their schedule, they were able to do other work such
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
viii
as contractual carpentry and as tricycle driver. Owning the farm allowed them to have more
livelihood options.
This supports the findings of Fabella (2014) that the land reform program transformed the
farmers into small landowners, but they continued to be poor. Land reform “created a new
class of people, the landed poor” (Fabella, 2014). As shown in the cases studies, many of these
small landowners are not managing the farms efficiently because of inadequate support system,
complexity of sugarcane faming management, and the economy of scale that makes small
landholding not economically viable for sugarcane. Thus, they lease the lands to individuals,
corporate groups and cooperatives to make sugarcane farming more feasible.
Though they considered their income as inadequate, there were improvements in their quality
of life. They were able to buy better food like chicken. They improved their houses by having
hollow blocks and iron sheet roofing; others were able to own a house. Some bought household
appliances such as television and furniture, as well as assets that could be used for investment
such as tricycles and sari-sari stores, farm implements and rice mill. A few even acquired
vehicles. The parents were able to afford to send their children to school, even in college,
because of the bulk income they got when they leased the land. The children of the
beneficiaries said that they bought personal belongings like new clothes and shoes. The
improvement in the quality of life of the families of the land reform beneficiaries definitely had
ramifications on the well-being of the children, no matter how small the improvement was. For
many of them, it was better to have some improvement than having nothing at all.
The clustering of the families and the block farming arrangement made the family members of
the block more united since they had to manage and work on the consolidated farm together.
On the other hand, there were cases when the process of acquiring the land resulted in conflict
among relatives with regard to the management of the farm. Conflict also resulted when two
groups both claim to be legitimate land reform beneficiaries.
Owning the land tend to enhance the farmer’s self-esteem. As they said: “we want to experience
not having a master in our lives…to see that we can use our own resources.” Before, they
considered themselves as squatters of the land. Now, they own the land.
One outcome of land reform is the change in farm practices of the ARB farmer-beneficiaries.
They can now engage in inter-cropping or multi cropping of sugarcane, coconut, bananas and
mango. This means that there is more food on the table and more farm products to sell. The
community also improved due to the diverse vegetation in the farm.
Policy and Practical Implications of the Land Reform Implementation on Child Labor
The study presents policy and practical implications of the land reform implementation in
sugarcane on the children working in sugarcane farms, focusing on five areas of concern: policy
review and integration of child labor agenda; adequate support programs; education and
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
ix
advocacy; valuation of agricultural work; and social protection of children working in sugarcane
farms.
Land distribution on its own cannot guarantee poverty reduction. This has been demonstrated
in numerous studies on the impact of land reform. Unless poverty issues are resolved, child
labor remains an option for many poor farm households. The current land reform policy needs
to be reviewed and re-framed for it to adequately address the gaps in its implementation as well
as the social exclusion of specific sectors in its pursuit of social equity. The land reform concept
is silent about other agrarian issues such as child labor and the displacement of hired farm
workers who are not qualified to become land reform beneficiaries.
There is an urgent call for the proper implementation of the land reform policy, particularly the
provision for adequate support programs. Alternative ways of increasing the income of the
CLOA beneficiaries have to be undertaken to improve their socio-economic status, and thus
reduce, if not minimize, child labor in the farm. This includes the provision of credit and service
facilities for the farmer-beneficiaries. Social economic enterprises that are appropriate to the
resources and capacities of the people can be initiated. Crop diversification can also be done.
Education and advocacy efforts are key inputs in changing the mindset of both adults and
children regarding the valuation of agricultural work as a viable livelihood option. However, this
should be pursued without compromising the safety and well being of children. Aside from
parents and children, the service providers (local officials, government personnel, NGO workers)
must be equipped to respond to the local issues and gaps in ensuring the proper
implementation of land reform that benefit the farm families especially the poor. Local
organizations and cooperatives must also be involved in the social protection of children,
including child workers.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
x
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures and Tables
xii
xiii
Acronyms
Acknowledgements
Chapter One: Introduction
A. Background of the Study
B. Research Objectives
C. Analytical Framework
Chapter Two: Research Methodology
Chapter Three : Summary Research Findings
A. The Context of Sugar Land Reform: A Review of the Socio-
xv
1
1
2
2
6
9
9
Economic Situation of the Communities
B. Process and Extent of Land Reform Implementation in
16
Sugarcane Farms
C. The Effects of Land Reform on Children in Sugarcane Farms
Chapter Four: Integrated Analysis
A. Land Reform, Poverty and Child Labor
26
46
46
Chapter Five: Land Reform Implementation and Its Policy and
Practical Implications on the Sugarcane Child Workers
52
A. Policy Review and Integration of Child Labor Agenda
52
B. Adequate Support Programs
53
C. Education and Advocacy
54
D. Valuation of Agricultural Work
54
E. Social Protection of Children Working in Sugarcane
55
References
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
57
xi
LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
Figure 1
The Inverted U Module in Child Labor in Sugarcane Farms
Figure 2
Research Operational Framework
Table 3
Case Study Areas and the Mode of Farming
Table 4
FGDs Conducted and the Number of Participants
Table 5
Top Provinces with Highest Land Redistribution Backlog, 2011 and
Poverty Magnitude and Incidence, 2012
Table 6
Target Land Acquisition and Distribution
Table 7
Land Distribution Data
Table 8
System of Sugarcane Farm Management
Table 9
Level of Risk, Activities and Situation of Children
Table 10
Environment that Reduces or Induces Child Labor
Table 11
Reasons for Children Working in the Farm
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
xii
ACRONYMS
4Ps
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also referred to as CCT
ABK3 LEAP
Pag-Aaral ng Bata Para sa Kinabukasan : Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy
and Social Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane
ALRP
Accelerated Land Reform Program
ALS
Alternative Learning System
ARB
Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries
ARPC-SS
Agrarian Reform Provincial Committee for Support Services
BCPC
Barangay Council for the Protection of Children
CARL
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law
CARP
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
CARPER
CARP Extension With Reform
CCT
Conditional Cash Transfer, also referred to as 4Ps
CF
Child Fund
CLOA
Certificate of Land Ownership Award
CLT
Certificate of Land Transfer
DA
Department of Agriculture
DAMBA
Damayan ng Magsasaka ng Batangas
DAR
Department of Agrarian Reform
DepEd
Department of Education
DOLE
Department of Labor and Employment
DOH
Department of Health
DSWD
Department of Social Welfare and Development
DTI
Department of Tourism and Industry
EP
Emancipation Patent
ERDA
Educational Research Development Assistance Foundation
FGD
Focus Group Discussion
GO
Government Organization
ILO
International Labour Organizations
ISRAD
Institute of Social Research and Development
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
xiii
KASUCO
Kabankalan Sugar Company
KII
Key Informant Interview
LAD
Land Acquisition and Distribution
LBP
Land Bank of the Philippines
LGUs
Local Government Units
LSB
Local School Board
MARO
Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer
MCPC
Municipal Council for the Protection of Children
NAT
National Achievement Tests
NGO
Non-Government Organization
OSY
Out of School Youth
PNP
Philippine National Police
PYA
Pag-asa Youth Association
SIFI
Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc.
UPSARDF
University of the Philippines Social Action and Research for Development,
Foundation, Inc.
WVDF
World Vision Development Foundation Inc.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
xiv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The University of the Philippines Social Action and Research for Development Foundation
(UPSARDF), Inc. research team wishes to acknowledge the help of the following in the
completion of this land reform implementation in selected sugarcane farms and its implications
to child labor study:
The Mayors and Barangay Captains as well as the heads of local institutions in the study areas
who unselfishly gave their support and cooperation during the data gathering;
The Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), non-ARBs, child workers, young adults who were
former child workers, and officers of cooperatives who willingly participated in the survey and in
the focus group discussions (FGDs);
The Key Informants from the study sites in Batangas, Davao Del Sur, Negros Occidental and
Negros Oriental:
-
Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers
Municipal Agrarian Reform Officers
Principal and/or teacher of Elementary and High School
Municipal Health Officers, Public Health Nurse, Midwife
Municipal Social Welfare Officers
Cooperative Officers
The Provincial Engagement Officers of World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. (WVDF);
ChildFund (CF) and Educational Research Development Assistance Group (ERDA); of the four
sample provinces who did the coordination with the Local Government Units (LGUs) in their
respective areas;
The ABK3 Project Management Team and Technical Working Group for their endless support in
all phases of the study; and finally,
The faculty, staff, students and friends of the College of Social Work and Community
Development of the University of the Philippines – Diliman for the support and the challenges
which motivated us to accomplish this research undertaking.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
xv
CHAPTER ONE
LAND REFORM AND CHILD LABOR
A. Background of the Study
The agrarian reform program of the government is a ground-breaking initiative because of its
compelling social justice component. In a society where there is huge inequitable distribution of
wealth and resources, land redistribution must be viewed as the core component of the agrarian
reform program. It aims to respond to social inequity. It envisions a future where farmers are
free from the bondage of the soil.
The program aims to correct the socio-economic imbalance in Philippine society by providing
the farmers the opportunity to own land and to have access to support services such as capital,
infrastructure, market and other facilities. The beneficiaries are expected to have regular and
increased income that will enable them to meet the needs of the household and live with
dignity.
Land reform policies have pervaded the Philippine political agenda since the Commonwealth
period. Generally, land reform initiatives of the government have been combinations of, though
not limited to, regulation on land tenancy, resettlement to public lands, and appropriation and
redistribution of private lands. The past governments tended to rely more heavily on the first
two, tenancy regulation and resettlement, rather than on the politically contentious land
redistribution.
Redistributive land reform, however, has become increasingly high on the policy agenda. This
was in response to the continuing peasant unrest and increase in relative scarcity of land
resulting from the closure of frontier areas. Such is best exemplified by the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) or RA 6657 passed in 1988 during the term of President Corazon C.
Aquino. The Comprehensive Land Reform Program (CARP) was a response to the mounting
pressures from pro-reform social forces advocating for a genuine land reform. The program was
to be carried out in ten years. As an alternative to land re-distribution, it allowed corporate
landowners to satisfy their reform obligations by giving their farm workers the right to purchase
capital stocks in the corporation (Fuwa, 2000).
Ten years after CARP implementation, its land acquisition and distribution component was
extended for another ten years through Republic Act 8532 passed in 1998. The program was
extended for another five years and was renamed CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER)
through Republic Act 9700, in 7 August 2009.
The CARP, and its extended program, the CARPER, ended on June 30, 2014. This milestone
ushered in a lot of reflections and assessments to determine the impact of the program, hoping
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 1
that the findings would serve as input to policy development. Stakeholders were divided on the
issue of whether to extend or end the program.
Among of the concerns about the land reform program is its possible impact on children
working in sugarcane farms. The World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. (WVDF) which is
implementing the ABK3 LEAP Project in sugarcane areas in the Philippines took this agenda. ABK
means Ang Pag-Aaral ng Bata para sa Kinabukasan, and LEAP stands for Livelihoods, Education,
Advocacy, and Protection Against Exploitative Child Labor in the Sugarcane. In line with this
program, the WVDF engaged the University of the Philippines Social Action and Research for
Development Foundation, Inc. (UPSARDF) to conduct studies on child labor in sugarcane farms.
This particular research focuses on the land reform implementation and its implications to child
labor in selected sugarcane communities of Batangas, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and
Davao del Sur.. The research aims to answer the following questions: What are the processes
and extent of land reform program implementation in sugarcane farms? What is the situation of
land reform beneficiaries? With the awarding of land to the farm laborers, has the incidence of
child labor been reduced? What are the perceived effects of the land reform program on
children? What recommendations can be proposed to improve the implementation of the land
reform program?
B. Research Objectives
The research on “Land Reform Implementation in Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications to Child
Labor” in selected areas in Negros Oriental, Davao del Sur, Batangas and Negros Occidental aims
to:
1. Review the socio-economic situation related to children in the research areas where land
reform in sugarcane was implemented;
2. Describe the process and extent of implementation of land reform in sugarcane farms;
3. Identify the effects of land reform on children in sugarcane farms as perceived by the
parents, land reform implementers and other service providers; and
4. Assess the current state of land reform implementation and its policy and practical
implications to child workers in sugarcane farms.
C. Analytical Framework
Defining Child Labor
The International Labour Organizations (ILO) Convention 182 sets the standard and definition of
“child labor” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity,
and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally,
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 2
physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their
schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school
prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long
and heavy work (Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Inc., 2012).
In the Philippines, the Philippine Labor Code sets 18 years old as the legal age for employment.
It prohibits the employment of children or minors 17 years and below. In compliance with the
ILO Convention 182, the Philippine Government acknowledges that the RA 9231 or an “An Act
Providing For The Elimination Of The Worst Forms Of Child Labor And Affording Stronger
Protection For The Working Child" passed on December 19,2003 by the 12th Congress serves as
the country’s commitment to eliminating the worst forms of child labor. Children can work
provided that the employment falls within the provisions of Republic Act 9231, on exceptional
cases for the employment of children/minors below 15 years old (Center for Trade Union and
Human Rights, Inc., 2012). In sugarcane, the exceptional case is when a child works directly
under the sole responsibility of his/her parents or legal guardian. Even in this case, the employer
shall first secure, before engaging such child, a work permit from the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE) which shall ensure observance of the above requirements.
Land Reform, Poverty Reduction and Child Labor
Land reform, as the phraseology suggests, has been implemented in countries where poverty
exists among the majority of the people due to the unequal distribution of wealth and an
imbalanced access to opportunities and resources. The Philippine land reform program intends
to break the quagmire that poor families are in by opening possibilities for them to uplift their
situation.
Many children work in sugarcane farms because of poverty. As illustrated in the wealth paradox
paradigm, child labor increases with the increase of landholdings, which is an indicator of wealth
(Bar & Basu, 2009). Such increase in land can be an outcome of a land reform program. As the
landholdings of the family increase, there would be a need for more labor to complete the tasks
in the bigger landholdings. With the rising cost of labor and the difficulty in securing capital that
usually leads to high interest rates, household labor is mobilized for farm work, including
children. In this instance child labor is a cost saving mechanism of the farm household. As the
landholdings of the household continue to increase, however, there will be a pointor a
threshold when the farmer would no longer need to send their children to the farm. Instead
they would focus on education, recreation and other wholesome activities for their children.
This is especially true for the altruistic parents who would desire the best for their children. With
greater wealth accruing from the management of larger farms, the families can now afford to
spend more income for the children’s well-being. Thus, child labor is reduced among the
wealthier households (Lima, Mesquita & Wanamaker, 2015. The inverted U model that shows
the relationship between wealth and prevalence of child is shown in the following illustration:
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 3
Figure 1. The Inverted U Model in Child Labor in Sugarcane Farms
C
h
i
l
d
L
a
b
o
r
S u g a r
C a n e
F a r m s
Among hired workers, poverty remains as the main reason for allowing their children to work
with them. The children help them finish the work faster. This also provides higher family
income when the child is paid separately for doing the farm tasks.
On the other hand, when sugarcane farms are managed by a group other than the farmerowner, e.g., cooperatives, people’s organization or corporation to whom the land was leased,
can create an external environment outside of the household that can reduce child labor. Direct
hiring could be prohibited and parents would not be allowed to bring their children in the farm.
Policies and regulations preventing child labor, if effectively executed, can significantly reduce
the number of children working in the farm.
Operational Framework
A systems approach is used in framing the relationships among the variables of the study. It
starts with the CONTEXT or the situation of the communities where land reform was
implemented. INPUTS to the context are the program and resources from the government and
other institutions that provided support to the community such as the land reform program and
other related services. How the land reform program was implemented constitutes the
PROCESSES. The OUTCOMES of the processes are the changes that took place after program
implementation , including the possible changes in the children’s situation. The implications of
the land reform implementation serve as the FEEDBACK to the outcomes, processes, inputs and
context. As shown in Figure 2, it is construed that land reform implementation may lead to some
improvements in the situation of children and the larger community.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 4
Figure 2. Research Operational Framework
Inputs
Process
Institution,
Government,
DAR
Community
Situation
Outcomes Feedback
Changes in
the
community
Land
Reform
Program
Implemen
tation
Implications
of Land
Reform
Children
Situation
Context
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 5
CHAPTER TWO
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The research adopted the qualitative, descriptive and cross sectional method in developing the
case studies. It looked into areas where land reform was implemented taking into account the
different periods, phases and varied modes adopted in the four research areas. The selection of
the four provinces was based on the criteria set by the WVDF, which is primarily the presence of
sugarcane farms that are covered by the land reform program of the government.
Preliminary meetings were conducted in order to 1) identify possible case study areas; 2) get to
know the partners and the key players in the area; and 3) gather the basic socio-economic
profile of the communities and basic data on land reform in sugarcane. During these meetings,
the team met with the partner Non-government Organizations (NGOs) and had an orientation
on the status of land reform in the area. The partner agencies played a key role in the
identification of the 12 sample communities as case studies. The selection criteria for the cases
were:




The land reform program was/is implemented in these areas
Areas covered by the partner agencies
Represent specific mode of sugarcane farming system
Number of communities covered by the partner agencies
Table 3 shows the 12 barangays where the case studies were conducted and the corresponding
mode of farming adopted when land reform was implemented.
The data gathering period was from February 2014 until early June 2014. This was done through
review of secondary materials, key informants interviews (KII), focus group discussions (FGD),
and ocular survey. In addition, the research staff attended a forum conducted by the sugar land
owners to discuss guidelines on the engagement of children in farming and an academic forum
on the impact of land reform.
Review of Documents
The documents review helped in providing the background on the land reform program. The
review focused on the extent of program implementation, outcome of evaluations conducted
showing the impact of land reform in sugarcane; and other child-related information pertinent
to land reform in sugarcane areas.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 6
Table 3. Case Study Areas and the Mode of Farming
Province
Municipality
Barangay
Mode of Farming
Nasugbu
Lian
Lian
Catandaan
Kapito
Prenza
Tanjay
Sta Cruz Nuevo
Manjuyod
Mandalupang
Mabinay
Bagtic
Talisay
Efigenio Lizares
Bago
Dulao
Murcia
San Miguel
Kabankalan
Salong
La Castellana
Matanao
Nato
San Jose
Corporate
Conventional Family Farming
Block Farming
Multi-purpose Cooperative, Family
Farming
Multi-purpose Cooperative, Family
Farming
Cooperatives
Family Farming
Kin Based Block Farming
Ariendo
Ariendo
Cooperatives
Cooperatives
Cooperative
Family Based
People’s Association
Family-Based
Batangas
Negros Oriental
Negros
Occidental
Davao del Sur
Key informants Interviews
Key Informant Interviews were done with representatives of government agencies regarding
efforts in child labor reduction, their perceptions on land reform program implementation, and
the problems and issues of children working in sugarcane farms. The government agencies
purposively selected by the team were those that had programs and services to protect children
and promote the well-being of their families. These included the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR), Department of Education (DepEd), Municipal and City Offices for Social Welfare
and Development, and the Department of Health (DOH).
Focus group discussions
In each community, five FGD sessions were conducted with different participants: the Agrarian
reform beneficiaries (ARBs), non-agrarian reform beneficiaries, child workers, young adults who
were former child workers, and the planters of individually managed farms and cooperatives.
The total number of FGD participants is 651: 30% land reform beneficiaries, 20% nonbeneficiaries, 21% children working in the farm, 16% adults who used to be child workers and
13% farm managers and officers of cooperatives and corporate farms. Table 4 shows the
distribution of participants in the FGDs.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 7
Table 4. FGDs Conducted and the Number of Participants
FGD Participants
Barangay,
Muniipality/City
A
B
C
D
Batangas
Catandaan, Nasugbu
17
12
25
12
Kapito, Lian
12
11
11
13
Prenza, Lian
11
11
10
6
Negros Oriental
Sta Cruz Nuevo,
18
18
1
1
Tanjay
Mandalupang,
16
6
10
6
Manjuyod
Bagtic, Mabinay
14
9
10
5
Negros
Efigenio
21
11
12
6
Occidental
Lizares,Talisay
Dulao, Bago
18
10
12
11
San Miguel, Murcia
18
11
15
16
Salong, Kabankalan
15
11
15
13
Nato, La Castellana
22
13
7
6
Davao del Sur
San Jose,
11
10
9
7
Matanao
Total
193
133
137
102
Percentage
30
20
21
16
A- Agrarian reform beneficiaries
B- Non-agrarian reform beneficiaries
C- Child workers
D- Young adults, former child workers
E- Planters of individually managed farms and cooperatives
Province
E
1
14
7
8
Total
67
61
45
46
6
44
9
-
47
50
14
14
4
9
65
74
58
57
-
37
86
13
651
100
Organization of the Research Report
The report is composed of two volumes. The first volume is the Integrated Report which
presents the research synthesis:, context of the study, research objectives, analytical
framework, methodology, summary of research findings, the integrated analysis, conclusions
and recommendations.
The second volume is a compilation of the 12 case studies. It provides the detailed data sets
from which the integrated analysis and recommendations were derived. Each case includes the
community situation, the land reform implementation process, the outcomes of the process in
terms of the mode of sugarcane farming management that evolved, the involvement of
children in the sugarcane farms, and the socio-economic and political impact of land reform in
sugarcane farms as experienced and expressed by the stakeholders i.e., the beneficiaries,
children working in the farms, non-beneficiaries, and land reform program implementers.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 8
CHAPTER THREE
SUMMARY OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
This chapter presents the summary of the findings based on the research objectives. The
discussion in this chapter is anchored on the data provided by the 12 case studies found in the
second volume of the Report.
A. The Context of Sugar Land Reform: A Review of the Socio-Economic Situation of the
Communities
The 12 case studies on land reform in sugarcane farms are situated in four provinces, namely,
Batangas, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Davao del Sur. The top provinces where large
tracts of land remain undistributed have also high incidence of poverty. Both Negros Occidental
and Negros Oriental are among the provinces that have high land distribution backlog and
incidence of poverty. This is shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Top Provinces with Highest Land Redistribution Backlog, 2011 and
Poverty Magnitude and Incidence, 2012 (Manahan 2014)
Remaining Lands for
Poverty (2012)†
Provinces
Distribution (hectares)
(Magnitude of poor
2011 (a)
population)
Negros Occidental
144,861
916,694
Camarines Sur
63,042
771,984
Masbate
33,156
448,333
South Cotabato
40,703
430,210
Negros Oriental
24,027
638,466
Leyte
36,007
713,063
Iloilo
25,019
580,937
Isabela
57,730
365, 024
Lanao del Sur
39,567
687, 138
Maguindanao
29,034
571,223
Saranggani
18,450
269, 112
† Based on National Statistical Coordinating Board data, February 2014
(a) Based on the PARC-DAR Data, March 2011.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Incidence in
Percentage
32.3
41.2
51.3
32.0
50.1
39.2
26.2
24.4
73.8
63.7
53.2
Page 9
1. Educational Situation of Children
Education of Children Working in the Farm
Children’s education was affected by farm work as manifested in their low grades, absenteeism,
and incidence of school drop outs. These observations were more common among boys, while
girls were known to perform better even if they were involved in farm work. They attributed the
poor performance of boys to the heavy farm work compared to girls. Nevertheless, there were
school absences among girls that were attributed to getting sick due to farm work. School
attendance was affected when children get overworked during the weekend and fell ill during
the next school day. In instances when they were able to come to class, their attention span also
suffered due to fatigue. These were observed among the children from Lian and Nasugbu,
Batangas, and Murcia, Negros Oriental.
The children working in the farm in Negros Occidental said that they sometimes missed classes –
once a week – but it did not affect their schooling. Their grades were affected when they were
not able to do their projects. The children worked to lessen the financial burden of their parents
for expenses for their school allowance and projects.
It can be gleaned from the cases that the high incidence of absenteeism and drop-out was due
to the lack of ‘baon’ or food for going to school and money for their school projects. Some were
lazy to go to school. A few stopped schooling because they were slow learners or they preferred
play over studies. There were also parents who encouraged children to stop schooling. Based on
estimates of key informants, there were about 10% drop-out in grade school and 50% in high
school.
In Negros Oriental, the children of the farmer-beneficiaries were mostly in-school, and some
even belonged to the top ranking students of the class. However, the young adults who used to
be child workers admitted that they have siblings who stopped schooling due to lack of money
to support them in school.
The beneficiary parents believed though that education is important. But due to some pressing
family needs, children were engaged in farm work. Moreover, when children started earning,
they chose not to go to school anymore as expressed by some parents. Even some of those who
finished high school went back to sugarcane farming for lack of employment opportunities.
Some got employed in factories in another province. Former child workers shared that when
they were still in school, the teacher would not mind if they were absent so long as they
behaved well while in class.
School performance.
According to a school representative interviewed in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, many of
their students came from low income families. Due to the parents’ irregular work and
inadequate income, their education had been greatly affected. In fact, although the results of
the National Achievement Tests (NAT) in the past three years showed that their school was
included in the list of the top ten academic institutions at the division level, the other indicators
like participation, drop out, retention as well as promotion rate were erratic for the same
period.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 10
The main reason for the inconsistent performance of the children was absenteeism. Sometimes
this resulted to dropping out from school because they needed to help their parents in the farm.
This appeared to be an accepted practice among poor farm households. Teachers, too, seemed
to have accepted that children had to do farm work in sugarcane farms especially during lean
months when parents did not have much work. The children’s income helped sustain family
needs. Frequent absences usually fell during harvest time
Even the school had accepted the reality that many of their students were engaged in child
labor. In their effort to decrease the dropout and retention rates of their working students, one
school prepared a module to enable absentee students to review the lessons that they missed in
order to catch up. In Brgy. Bagtic, the school implemented a rule that students were dropped
off from the roster when they reached 10 successive days of absences or 10 absences in a
month. He or she could be re-admitted after presenting an excuse slip. In many cases, children
incurred three to five successive absences to work in the sugarcane farm.
Teachers sometimes also resorted to home visits for students who had long absences. They tried
to convince their parents to encourage their children to continue attending classes. In Mabinay,
Negros Oriental, the Officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Bagtic National High School mentioned that
some children of ARBs and Pantawid Pamilya ng Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries actually
dropped out of school for economic reasons. In January 2014, 25 students of the 308 total
population dropped out to look for work in Manila.
On the contrary¸ in Brgy. Dulao, Bago City, both parents and children attested that the children
got no failing grades. They admitted though that they sometimes absented themselves from
school due to sickness and farm work. In Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, the child workers said
that even with their heavy schedule in school, farm and at home, they still had time to study,
usually in the evenings. Some of them were even honor students .
Educational Programs and Services
Educational programs and support services were provided by educational institutions to
increase access to quality and relevant education. For example, the Local School Board (LSB) had
instituted measures to assist students: allocation of public school funds, the alternative learning
system (ALS) program, and improved educational infrastructures. The provincial government
and the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc. (SIFI) assisted the LGU in establishing training centers
through logistical and training support.
Government programs such as the 4Ps of the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) contributed to lessen absenteeism and drop outs. In Tanjay, Negros Oriental for
example, there are 1,898 beneficiaries of 4Ps in 24 barangays. In Sta. Cruz Nuevo, there are
more than 100 beneficiaries and 300 in Sta. Cruz Viejo.
The 4Ps and ChildFund (CF) programs help in retaining children in school because of its
requirements and monitoring system.
In Tanjay, Negros Oriental, the Barangay Council members said that they intend to implement
child friendly programs from 2014 to 2016. They plan to reactivate the Barangay Council for the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 11
Protection of Children (BCPC) to eradicate child labor and encourage drop outs to go back to
school or avail of the ALS. The teachers conducted home visits to families of out of school youth
(OSY) to encourage the children to go back to school and reminded their parents of their duty to
support their children's educational needs. In partnership with WVDF, a Learning Resource
Center was set up with the barangay partly funding its construction. This was where the
assigned DepEd teacher conducted ALS classes once a week to 10 interested youth.
Educational opportunities
For the non-beneficiaries and former child workers, the educational situation remained the
same over the years. Children who were engaged in child labor often incurred school absences
or dropped out of school due to the demands of farm work. They had to work because they
were poor. They lacked money for food and transportation.
Former child workers in Negros said that “the priority of families in sugarcane farm is food,
shelter and clothing; not education.” Poverty leads them to farming which makes it hard for
them to finish or even sustain school attendance.
They said that they did farm work because they had no other work to do. Due to poverty, they
were not able to finish school. One said that his family kept on transferring residence and
school, hence he stopped going to school. They started working when they were in the
elementary and went on full time working in the farm after finishing high school. Knowing that
they would not be able to go to college, they decided to just continue working in the farm.
Many children who dropped out of school went back to school if they had a chance. In most
cases, they tended to continuously work to help their families. Some dreamed of completing
higher education to get blue collar jobs in the city or become a professional like a teacher,
police, agriculturist and the like.
2. Health Situation of Children
Hazards in Sugarcane Farms
The presence of occupational hazards in sugarcane farms affected the health of children. In
Nasugbu, Batangas for example, the ARBs expressed that working in the farm caused their
children to suffer from wounds and rashes from the leaves of the sugarcane. They got sprained
if they fall from the ladder while loading, fainted or loosed consciousness due to over fatigue
and too much exposure to the heat of the sun. It was also reported that some child workers
suffered from asthma, hernia, hand blisters, sun burn, headache and body ache. Key informants
also observed that child workers lacked appetite and experienced stunted growth.
But from the point of view of the children, they were in good health despite their exposure to
heavy work in the farm. They just got the usual colds, fever and flu. Most of them even
completed the free vaccination package given by their health center. Whenever there was a
need to, they availed of its health services and free medicines if supplies were available. In
Tanjay, Negros Occidental, the parents said that their children were in good health and not
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 12
malnourished since they ate nutritious foods. Only one parent in the FGD disclosed that her son
contracted tuberculosis due to hard work in the farm.
In Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, the child workers said that their work was backbreaking and
the condition in the farm was harsh. The very early work hours and the irregularity of taking
their meals just to meet the demands of work affected their appetite (nawawalan ng ganang
kumain). Due to their exposure to the extreme heat of the sun and exhaustion, there were
days when they felt dizzy or had difficulty sleeping. Since they were not provided with protective
gears while handling hazardous chemicals and exposed to the sharp edges of the sugarcane
leaves, they also developed skin allergies and asthma. Some of them developed ulcer from
missing meals. One contracted tuberculosis (nagsuka ng dugo) but recovered with the help of a
government clinic. Most of them complained of numbness (pasma) since they were expected to
do the chores at home after the heavy work in the fields without any time to rest their tired
bodies.
There were also serious cases reported: someone fell from a coconut tree while picking the
coconut to quench their thirst, another had an epileptic attack, while another got electrocuted
by a live wire for lighting the farm during the night.
The former child workers said that injuries suffered by child workers in the farm were the same
as before. For treatment, the health center provided first aid or alternative/traditional
treatment was sought since this was more affordable. According to them, child sugarcane
workers tended to experience stunted growth. Malnutrition also seemed to affect their mental
abilities.
Health Services
The Department of Health (DOH) provides medical services through the public hospitals, health
clinics, and barangay pharmacies. It also has a nutrition program that gives 90 days feeding for
malnourished children.
DSWD provides supplemental feeding for children who are
malnourished and also manages day care for children up to four years old.
Based on key informants’ accounts, there were Barangay Health Centers in the communities but
offered only first aid treatment. The Barangay Health Worker (BHW) conducted weighing of
children but did not inform them if they were underweight or had normal weight.
To remedy their health problems, the parents resorted to self medication (applying penicillin
tablet to the wound), took a rest, consulted hilot or albularyo, and took alternative/traditional
medicines (washing wounds with boiled guava leaves). In some cases, the children went to the
public hospital and availed of their parents’ PhilHealth benefit if it was necessary.
In Brgy. Bagtic, Negros Occidental, a Barangay Midwife, a Barangay Nutrition Scholar, and a
Barangay Health Worker provided health services. For cases of minor accidents while working in
the farm, they provided first aid treatment and gave antibiotics. In worse cases, patients were
referred to the District Hospital.
In Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, barangay health services focused on infants and young
children, as well as women of reproductive age. For children eight to 17 years old, especially
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 13
those working in sugarcane farms, there were no health programs and services specifically for
them. Thus, their health situation was not monitored. If and when these children go to their
center for consultation, the health personnel either gave them first aid treatment, referred
them to the City Health Office or the DSWD for the needed requirements to avail of medicines
or hospital care.
Protective Measures
It was also noted that the children in Kabankalan were aware of their rights and the labor laws
for their protection. The participants revealed that their parents provided them protective gears
for working. The children used protective garments such as jackets, gloves, long-sleeved shirts,
pants, socks, hats, masks and boots. In Kabankalan, 10 children with ages 14-17, who were
involved in the application of fertilizer, covered their faces with their own jackets but did not use
gloves.
3. Child Labor Situation
The case studies showed that child labor was considered as an opportunity for the children to
earn, learn farming, and help the family. At the same time, farmers and parents also recognized
that the children’s schooling should not suffer despite their involvement in farm work.
In Talisay, Negros Occidental, the farmers admitted that children did farm work, including their
own children. Children worked in the farm during vacation or weekends. The reasons for
working included their desire to contribute to family’s income, to meet the school needs and
“pambaon” and to be with friends who were also working in the sugarcane farm.
In Nasugbu, Batangas, the working children involved both boys and girls aged 10-15 years old.
Boys were more likely to be involved than girls. On the average, a child earned 150-170 pesos
per day. In some processes such as loading and cutting, a per ton basis of payment instead of
per day is provided. Older children were paid the same wages as adults.
In Davao del Sur, a high level of awareness on the existing policies for the protection of the
rights of children was observed among the parents, school personnel, LGU officials and the
children themselves. They attributed this awareness to ERDA’s presence in the community.
Towards Child Labor Reduction
In Tanjay, Negros, Occidental, the ARBs claimed that they do not employ child laborers because
it is against the law. Their children helped in the farm when they reached 18 years old. When
the hacienda was converted into a land reform area, no child was accepted as a laborer. The
small landowners who grouped themselves together saw to it that they followed the labor laws
by not allowing children, including their own, to work in their land.
The small landowners in individually managed sugarcane farms were aware of the law that
prohibits the hiring of child workers. According to them, their community presently has child
rights advocates who reminded them about this aspect. If ever there were children in the farms,
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 14
these were sons and daughters assisting their parents voluntarily on a part time basis The
children could freely play and socialize with classmates and friends.
Children were also not permitted to work in big plantations because of their limited capacity.
The owners were cautious about child labor issues because their reputation was also at stake.
The ARBs said that child labor was more likely to be observed in family-run or small farms. In
both Brgys. Sta. Cruz Nuevo and Viejo, key informants estimated that about half of the 2,000
children probably did farm work especially if the parents were landless farmers. But the
cooperative had a rule not to hire children as laborers because it was against child labor laws.
4. Child Abuses
Child abuse was not prevalent in the research areas. Only an estimated 1% was reported in the
municipal DSWD mainly due to physical abuse. The victims were referred to the Health Center
for the needed intervention. The usual assistance extended by DSWD to low income and
marginalized families were: counseling services; livelihood programs; training in organizational
management and leadership; referrals and networking with other groups and institutions. The
programs that had direct impact on the households and on the children were: the 4Ps; and
organizing the youth into the Pag-asa Youth Association (PYA) that focused on the child workers
and out of school youth, the abused children, children in conflict with the law and youth
offenders. Trainings were given to build their awareness and skills on how to protect
themselves.
There were reported cases of rescued minors from trafficking. These girls came from poor
families in sugarcane farms who were lured to Dumaguete or Manila to work as domestic
workers. Sadly, some ended up in prostitution. The DSWD in coordination with the Coast Guard
and DOLE had monitored ports and linked up with the police to raid suspected dens. Girls who
were rescued were referred to the Department of Tourism and Industry (DTI) and Department
of Agriculture (DA) for skills training to prepare them for employment.
One area of concern in the communities was the sizeable number of early pregnancies and early
marriages among child workers in the community. In 2013, there were 17 couples with ages
ranging from 13 to 17 who were in this situation. These occurrences burdened not just the new
family but the families of origin of these children. Teenage pregnancy was one reason for early
marriages.
5. Programs and Services
The key informants observed that many government programs and NGOs had provided services
to communities where child labor was rampant. In Nasugbu, Batangas, the local government
together with the NGOs such as SIFI and the Roxas Foundation, Inc. assisted the barangay in
dealing with its community problems especially those related to children’s education. These
institutions provided scholarships and supported day care classes in the community. The LGU
also documented and monitored child labor incidence.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 15
Although there were several child-focused programs, local mechanisms needed to be
institutionalized like the Municipal Council for the Protection of Children (MCPC) in Lian,
Batangas. The LGUs must actively pursue legislaltive measures to reduce and eliminate child
labor in the sugarcane industry.
Some organizations had provisions for the social protection of children, particularly on
education and health, such as the DSWD’s Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) or 4Ps, PhilHealth’s
medical assistance program, and the Senior Citizens’ Association which provides services for the
elderly. The DSWD, together with the DepEd, SIFI, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Women’s
Desk and WVDF ABK3 LEAP, provided assistance to low income children. Both SIFI and WVDF
focused its efforts in increasing the awareness of communities about children’s rights and child
labor laws through setting up of a Community Watch Group. ERDA, also provided assistance to
children, including child workers by giving them educational subsidy and school supplies. It also
partially funded the setting up of a classroom. The creation of a volunteer child's right advocate
position at the barangay level was considered pivotal in institutionalizing child’s rights advocacy.
It seemed apparent from the foregoing account that the child labor situation in the land reform
areas mirrored the same conditions of child workers in other sugarcane farms described in
earlier researches, as well as findings from the In-depth Baseline Study (IBS) and the
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) studies under ABK3 LEAP. Working children were
generally disadvantaged in terms of educational performance and opportunities because of
heavy work in sugarcane farms. Their health, as well as their future, was also at risk.
The presence and assistance provided by the government agencies, NGOs, LGUs, schools and
other groups provided temporary relief from the burdens of poverty. But most of these
available services were not within the scope of the changes attributed to the land reform
program.
Indirectly, however, the presence of ‘cooperativized’ efforts to prohibit child labor among ARBs
brought more conscious effort towards child protection. The key factors in the cases cited were
awareness of child labor laws and close monitoring among farmer groups, most of whom were
parents of child workers themselves.
B. Process and Extent of Land Reform Implementation in Sugarcane Farms
1. Accomplishments and Expected Outputs
The comprehensive agrarian reform law ended in June, 2014. However, the implementation of
the program continues in all areas that were given Notices of Coverage before June 30, 2014.
Section 30 of the RA 9700 stipulates that landholdings under compulsory acquisition with
Notices of Coverage can still be distributed beyond June 30, 2014. As of 2012, the DAR has
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 16
issued around 95% of the Notices of Coverage for all landholdings above 10 hectares. All Notices
of Coverage were expected to be completed by June 2013 (DAR, 2013).
It is therefore expected that by June 2016, all the net land acquisition and distributions (LADs)
will be completed. Covered by the LAD are the lands that the government is now acquiring and
distributing (DAR, 2013). On January 1, 2013, the remaining LAD balance to be acquired by DAR
was 879,526 hectares, 90% of which were complex lands and private agricultural lands which
were more difficult to process. From the 879,526 hectare, the net area to be distributed to the
farmers was only 522,405 hectares as the following were deducted from the gross area (DAR,
2013):



“Non- CARPABLE” areas such as roads, easements, creeks, undeveloped
portions of more than 18 degree slope;
Landowner retention area estimated at 175,000
Problematic 182,181 hectares due to pending cases, technical problems and the
like.
The estimated net LAD of 704,527 and the net workable LAD of 522,405 hectares were targeted
to be distributed as follows:
Table 6. Target Land Acquisition and Distribution
Year
2013
2014
2015
Jan-June 2016
Total
Target Workable Net LAD
Balance
160,000 hectares
180,000 hectares
120,000 hectares
62,406 hectares
522,406 hectares
Target Net LAD Balance that
include the problematic cases
160,000 hectares
240,707 hectares
180,707 hectares
123.113 hectares
704,527 hectares
Source: DAR, 2013
The 12 case studies presented the commonalities, as well as the complexity and variations in the
way the agrarian reform program was implemented in the different areas in the country. The
cases accounted the different strategies, challenges, expected and unexpected outcomes, as
well as lessons worth considering in drawing new policies and improving program
implementation.
2. Small Landholdings Distributed by Clusters
The distribution of the land was done through a mother CLOA. The sizes of the land distributed to
the farmers varied from 0.25 to 3.0 hectares which were not viable for efficient sugarcane
farming and for reducing child labor.
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Clustering was adopted as a strategy to speed up land distribution. This meant that a mother
CLOA was given to the group of beneficiaries working in the former haciendas. The mother CLOA
contained all the names of the beneficiaries. Each beneficiary was given a copy of the mother
CLOA. However, this method had implications on land ownership since the mother CLOA was in
the name of the group.
In Catandaan, Nasugbu, Batangas, this CLOA type of distribution implied that the payment
would also be done per CLOA. This became counterproductive when not all the members of the
CLOA could afford to pay the amortization. By design, even if only one member could not afford
to pay, all the rest who could afford to pay (the land) will not be able to do so.
The sizes of the land owned by the CLOA beneficiaries depended on the size of the hacienda and
the number of farmer beneficiaries. However, unlike rice and corn farms that could be managed
well by the farmers even if they were small in sizes, sugarcane farming required larger sizes to
make farming economically viable. In many cases, the size of farm given to each beneficiary was
not large enough to enable farmers to undertake efficient and productive sugarcane farming.
This was the reason why DAR encouraged block farming for greater efficiency through collective
farming.
Moreover, with inadequate income derived from small farms, the families were not able to
overcome poverty and pushed the children to work in the farm.
According to a DAR officer, the system of distributing the land through block farming also
facilitated the transfer of the land since it reduced the bureaucratic process of handling so many
CLOAs and dealing with individual farmer-beneficiaries. Table 7 shows the land area distributed
to the farmers, the number of beneficiaries and the average size of the farm acquired by the
farmers.
Table 7. Land Distribution Data
Barangay, Municipality,
Province
Catandaan, Nasugbu,
Batangas
Kapito, Lian, Batangas
No. of
beneficiaries
48 ARBs
110 ARBs
Total land
distributed
Average size
of Land
How the land was
distributed
86.31
hectares
1.7-2.0
hectares
Voluntary offer to
sell (VOS)
188.70
hectares
1.7-2.0
hectares
VOS
Prenza, Lian, Batangas
Sta Cruz Nuevo, Tanjay,
Negros Oriental
Mandalupang, Manjuyod,
Negros Oriental
VOS
48 ARBs
60 hectares
2,055.01
hectares
Compulsory
acquisition
0.5 to 3
hectares
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
VOS and
Compulsory
acquisition
Page 18
Barangay, Municipality,
Province
Bagtic, Mabinay, Negros
Oriental
No. of
beneficiaries
135 ARBs
Total land
distributed
Average size
of Land
How the land was
distributed
413
hectares
1.6 hectares
VOS and
Compulsory
acquisition
Compulsory
acquisition
Efigenio Lizares, Talisay,
Negros Occidental
24 ARBs
13 hectares
0.5 hectares
Dulao, Bago, Negros
Occidental
29 ARB’s
69.94
hectares.
1.9 hectares
VOS
San Miguel, Murcia,
Negros Occidental
108 ARB’s
135
hectares
0.8-1.5
hectares
VOS
Salong, Kabankalan,
Negros Occidental
The 1st area
had 17
beneficiaries
39 hectares
0.5 to 3
hectares
VOS
Nato, La Castellana,
Negros Occidental
43 ARBs
38.93
hectares
0.32 – 1.00
hectare
San Jose, Matanao, Davao
del Sur
13 ARBs
VOS and
Compulsory
acquisition
VOS
0.25 to 1.1
hectares
3. The Barriers, Challenges and Issues in Land Reform
The implementation of agrarian reform in sugarcane farms was slow and was beset with several
challenges.
In the research areas, land reform in sugarcane is characterized by slow implementation. In
many cases, it has not been fully implemented.
In Brgy. Efigenio Lizares in Talisay City, Negros Occidental there were beneficiaries who still
work as sugarcane farm workers in lands not distributed yet or are in the process of distribution.
Among the problems and issues confronted by land reform implementation are the
identification of beneficiaries, technical problems, lack of awareness, loopholes in the law itself
and the lack of preparation of the farmer-beneficiaries.
Identification of beneficiaries
In some areas, there were problems on how the program beneficiaries would be selected. In
Brgy. Salong, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, for example, some of the workers who left the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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place temporarily but went back to the hacienda were not included in the list of beneficiaries.
Apparently, they were not present at the time of the pre-listing survey.
In Brgy. Bagtic, Mabinay, Negros Oriental, the landowner made the regular workers of the
hacienda believe that land reform would not be implemented and assured them that their jobs
in the hacienda were secured. Hence, the primary beneficiaries did not apply for a CLOA. Thus,
the DAR distributed the CLOA to the irregular, seasonal migrant workers who were on the
second and third priorities. Conflict and violence arose as the primary beneficiaries petitioned
for inclusion and continued to work on the lands while the legitimate CLOA holders were
threatened and barred from the farms.
Technical problems and lack of information awareness
Because of unclear boundaries in the land documents, disputes cropped up, delaying the
processing and issuance of the CLOAs to the beneficiaries. In Brgy. San Jose, Matanao, Davao del
Sur, the DAR official admitted their poor information campaign. ARBs did not register their
CLOAs with the assessor’s office and paid the real property taxes, hence, the lands were still
under the name of the original landowner.
The implementation of the law itself
Unlike the Agrarian Reform Law during the administration of former President Ferdinand
Marcos where only tenanted rice lands were included, the CARP coverage is too broad. It
included all agricultural lands regardless of the produce, area classification and types of
ownership, among others. The changing policies, procedures and practices could have
facilitated an efficient and effective program implementation, but the constant amendments or
revisions also added to the confusion among program implementers.
In La Castellana, Negros Occidental for example, the DAR employees had to contend with new
directives and changes in the implementing rules and regulations as well as revised systems and
procedures issued almost weekly. Members of the staff had difficulty keeping abreast with
these modifications. Sometimes they could not give the needed information or answer inquiries
because of the constant changes in the implementation guidelines. One example cited was the
changing of forms for data gathering as often as a new Department Head was appointed. The
new forms which cost the Department a substantial amount for printing were not utilized.
Lack of Preparation of the Farmer-Beneficiaries
Although the economic status of the ARBs changed from laborer to farm owner, their outlook
remained as that of a farm worker without any notion of the necessity to plan and make
decisions on how to manage their property. They also lacked the knowledge and skills in farm
and financial management. There were ARBs who had no financial and administrative capacity
to operate the land parcel given to them. This was one of the reasons why many farmerbeneficiaries were not able to sustain sugarcane farming by themselves. Some of them
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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mortgaged their farm lots to other ARBs or capitalists who have the resources to make the land
productive.
Farmer-Beneficiaries no longer own the land
It was noted in some cases in Negros Occidental and Batangas that some CARP beneficiaries no
longer own their land. Because of lack of capital, some of them had to use their land to pay the
huge debt they incurred in planting sugarcane. They claimed that they no longer had a landlord
who can help them in times of need. Others chose to sell their land and pursued other livelihood
activities. The government failed to play the role of a “provider” which their landlord used to do.
similarly, in Brgy. Salong, Kabankalan, quite a number were forced to either rent out, mortgage
or “sell” their farms to the more affluent planters or to their previous landowners because they
did not have the needed funds. Others who attempted to produce sugarcane were not able to
gain or recoup the farming expenses they incurred due to the high interest rates on loans and
expensive farm inputs.
Negative Changes in the Attitude of the Farmer-Beneficiaries
In Brgy. Prenza, Lian, Batangas, the members of the block farming group tended to be resistant
to new technologies. They only noted the various farm inputs, but did not count the increase in
production. Moreover, an officer of the local group observed that the block farming program
taught the farmers to be lazy because the cooperative did all the work for them. Before the
program, the farmers were conscientious and hardworking in tilling their farm, but now, they
just waited for their share of the profit. The group claimed that the cooperative was in the
losing end because the farm inputs were lent to the farmers without interest while the
Cooperative paid the interest to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
Farmer- beneficiaries were not paying the land amortization to the government.
Individual farmers, particularly those who leased their lands, failed to pay the annual
amortization for the land awarded to them. Apparently, they had not internalized this
obligation, hence, it was not practiced. Others claimed they did not know how to do it.
In many instances, the titles of the land acquired by the ARBs remained with the LBP because
the amortization was not paid fully. In Davao del Sur for example, the ARBs had to pay P 6,000
per year for a ¼ hectare piece of land.
The organized groups such as the cooperatives paid as a group. However, there were cases
when the bank did not accept the partial amortization because some of the beneficiaries in the
block were unable to pay their share .
In Prenza, Nasugbu, Batangas, there were farmer-beneficiaries who were uncertain if they
would eventually own their land because their payments were not accepted by the bank as the
owner claimed that the mother title was lost.
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The cases identified many challenges, barriers and issues that the stakeholders encountered in
the process of implementing the land reform program. Many of these were also noted in other
studies, as described in an excerpt article in Box 1.
Box 1
Standing on Tenuous Grounds
Mary Ann Manahan (2014)
A huge number of landholdings has not been covered and distributed, and are in different stages of land acquisition
process, owing to stumbling blocks such as non-coverage due to the refusal of Municipal Agrarian Reform Officers
(MARO) and other Department of Agrarian Reform officials. Other challenges have been the existence of retention
cases; non-installation of farmers; pending titles at the Registry of Deeds; pending cases at the Department of
Agrarian Reform (DAR) Central Office; and problems of exclusion and inclusion in targeting of beneficiaries and
land identification, among others.
For landholdings which have been covered and distributed, farmer-beneficiaries continue to endure “second
generation problems” such as cancellation of land titles, either as Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) or
Emancipation Patent. This problem has given rise to what is now commonly known as “bigay-bawing titulo”; there
are also foreclosures, legal cases filed by former landowners, lack of support service provision, etc. In most cases,
the lack of adequate and appropriate support services remains a problem. Access to credit, farm implements, seeds,
etc. are too few and far in between. Where support services were given, it was usually provided through the support
of NGOs. Farmers’ inability to pay their amortization as well as foreclosure and selling of their lands have been
attributed to the lack of support services that could have helped beneficiaries transition from mere dependent farm
workers to new, productive farmer owners.
Worse, rampant land exemptions and illegal and legal land use conversions are unabated. Landholdings which have
been up for distribution under the agrarian reform program have been exempted or excluded due to land use
conversion orders and applications for real estate development, mining and other agricultural uses. Irrigated lands
have been converted for other uses such as bio-fuel production and non-agricultural use by both foreign and
domestic investors and political elites.
4. Conflict With Sugarcane Planters and Among the Beneficiaries
The implementation of the land reform program was hindered by the sugarcane planters who
refused to recognize the program. At the same time, the conflicts among the beneficiaries have
slowed down the program implementation.
There were landowners who resisted the implementation of the land reform program and used
their resources to file cases in court. Some even instigated violence and hired goons to stop the
compulsory acquisition by ARBs of their hacienda. A case documenting the process of agrarian
reform in sequestered lands showed the helplessness of DAR in implementing the provisions of
the law when faced by a resistant landowner who wielded their power because of their
connection with the Marcoses. For instance, the 12,000 hectare property remained untouched
up to the time of writing due to certain legal impediments, lack of political will and poor
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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coordination among involved agencies, the bureaucratic red tape at DAR and military
intervention (Aguilar, 1991).
In cases where the landowners refused to cooperate with the program, DAR had no other
recourse but to enforce compulsory land acquisition. In some instances, the farmers made
petitions. The farmers claimed that some landowners had divisive attitude, i.e,. they divided the
farmers by promising benefits to those who would not join the petition. Others said that the
landowners converted the land to other uses such as subdivision or industrial complex before
land reform was implemented.
Compulsory land acquisition gave rise to petitions and organized actions by the farmers forcing
the land owners to distribute the land through DAR. In doing so, the process became more
difficult for both the landowners and the farmer beneficiaries.
In Efigenio Lizares, Talisay for example, 16 of the 24 farmers made a petition for the distribution
of the land. The 16 farmers were led by five leaders who filed a case against the landowner
because of the waiver in the agreement that provided the right to the former haciendero to till
the land. The five leaders lost the case and the landowner evicted them from their residential
home lots at the center of the hacienda which the landowner claimed to be his property. Four
other farmers who were relatives of the five leaders were also evicted and joined the group of
five.
In Hacienda Maria Diaz in Brgy. Bagtic, Mabinay, Negros Oriental, the landowners resisted the
land reform program that caused a major conflict over the contested lands. The landowner
contested the agrarian reform law and for a long time was unwilling and uncooperative to
implement it. The notice of coverage issued by DAR was ignored and eventually the notice for
compulsory acquisition was issued. The primary beneficiaries - regular workers of the hacienda –
did not apply for CLOA as the land owner convinced them that land reform would not be
implemented and that their jobs would be secured in the hacienda. On the other hand, the
irregular, seasonal migrant workers – as second and third priorities applied and submitted the
required documents. DAR worked on the procedures and granted 135 CLOAs of 1.6 hectares
each to those who applied in 2010.
The primary beneficiaries, realizing that land reform would indeed be implemented, filed for a
petition for reconsideration. The so-called petitioners continued to work in the lands while the
legitimate CLOA holders were threatened and barred from tilling the lands. In January 2011, the
CLOA holders encamped on the lands demanding to get their lands. Stone throwing ensued to
break the encampment and a CLOA holder farmer leader was shot and killed. The petitioners
(so-called squatters by the other group) occupied the land and harvested the sugarcane in 2012.
Hence, the land reform implementation was delayed with the on-going cases and counter-cases,
negotiations and mediations.
In La Castellana, Negros Occidental, the assistance of Task Force Mapalad, an NGO with a
different viewpoint on land reform and its implementation, had caused conflict between DAR
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 23
and the non-ARBs. According to the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO), the reasons for
their exclusion from the program were clear to this set of tillers. There were three types of farm
workers: the regulars, the seasonal, and the squatters and workers who are neither regular nor
seasonal. The preferred beneficiaries were those awarded the land as stipulated. Information
campaigns, such as community assemblies to explain who the qualified recipients were, the
rules and process for registration and the needed documents were conducted in the areas
covered. The list of possible awardees and other important data were also posted in strategic
locations in the barangay. Those excluded from the list were asked to go to their DAR office to
file an appeal for inclusion and submit the pertinent documents.
5. Implementation With Inadequate Support System
The distribution of the sugarcane land was undertaken with inadequate support system.
The DAR focused in distributing lands to the laborers. However, support services were
inadequate to meet the needs of the farmer-beneficiaries. Section 37 of CARP defined support
services as:
(a) Land surveys and titling; (b) Liberalized terms on credit facilities and production
loans; (c) Extension services by way of planting, cropping, production and post harvest
technology transfer, as well as marketing and management assistance and support to
cooperatives and farmers' organizations; (d) Infrastructure such as access trails, minidams, public utilities, marketing and storage facilities; and (e) Research, production and
use of organic fertilizers and other local substances necessary in farming and cultivation.
In several cases, the farmer–beneficiaries claimed that only land and titling services were
extended to them. Capital provision, technical training, organizing and other services were not
provided.
While there were improvements in infrastructures such as farm to market roads, most of which
were already available even before land distribution, there were minimal support programs
instituted to assist the beneficiaries in the management of the sugar lands. Only those who were
organized into cooperatives or people’s associations received assistance. The individual
beneficiaries who worked as hired or contractual workers in the haciendas and were not
engaged in the management needed the necessary training. As new landowners, they had to
manage the farm such as setting the phases of farm production, managing the inputs and
processes in the various phases of sugar farming, providing the needed finances, dealing with
farm workers and handling post-harvest processes. This unpreparedness among small
landowners caused by not being properly equipped for entrepreneurship is called “forced
entrepreneurship” (Fabella, 2014).
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 24
Corollary to this, credit facilities were not provided to individual farmers. In Brgy. Mandalupang,
Manjuyod, Negros Oriental for example, loans were given to cooperatives and not to individual
applicants. The beneficiaries needed funds to pay the workers, buy the farm inputs such as
fertilizers and pesticides, transportation expenses and the like. Initially, the farmers tried to
manage the farms by borrowing money from lenders and relatives. The inability of the
beneficiaries to finance the sugarcane farming activities led to the emergence of other forms of
farm management such as renting out the land to others. There were very few instances when
the farmer-beneficiaries were able to farm the land by themselves.
The farmer-beneficiaries from Brgy. Catandaan, Nasugbu, Batangas expressed that the
government should had given not just the land, but also facilities and financial support to make
the land productive. Without this support it was very difficult to maximize the land. Even nonbeneficiaries realized this- that after some time, the beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries could be
of the same economic status. The lack of support services did not just hinder the beneficiaries
from maximizing their land, it also created a need to borrow money which brought them back to
their status as hired workers. Still, some were proud to say that at least now, they had a CLOA.
It gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment, although they wished that they could pay
their obligation as CLOA beneficiaries.
A very basic support system in sugarcane industry is the Central Azucarera or the milling station.
Unlike rice, corn, vegetable and other cash crops, sugarcane could not be readily sold in the
market after harvest. It had to undergo a milling process to convert it into sugar. In the past, the
sugarcane planters had no problem with this because they usually owned or had connections
with the owners of the sugar mill. Now, small sugarcane planters had to depend for processing
on owners of the milling stations or the Central Azucarera. They had to follow the regulations
imposed by the central milling center particularly in the pricing of the services. The ARBs
became victims of unfair pricing i.e., they were charged higher fees for the milling services
which resulted to smaller income/profit.
In Brgy. Kapito, Lian, Batangas, some trucking companies also rent land which they prioritized in
their pick-up schedule. This posed insecurity on fields not rented by trucking companies as their
sugarcane could grow dry waiting for a pick-up schedule. These companies were reportedly in
collusion with the “central”. They had a monopoly or cartel business model allowing them to
offer low rental fee. The pick-up schedule was also dependent on the price of sugar. When price
was high, they prioritized their rented land, otherwise they had to pick-up sugarcane from
unrented lands. Beneficiaries also felt harassed when their land was scheduled on a rainy
season, when their produce most likely would end up not being picked up due to weather
conditions. They expressed dismay that the implementation of CARP did not protect them from
these negative practices.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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6. Facilitating Factors in Land Reform Implementation
The organized farmers who collaborated or petitioned for land transfer, as well as landowners
who voluntarily offered their land for distribution facilitated faster land transfer from the
landowners to the farmers.
As shown in the cases, the most significant facilitating factor that led to the smooth
implementation of land reform was the collaboration of landowners to voluntarily sell their
land. The organized efforts of the beneficiaries and the assistance provided by DAR also
facilitated land transfer.
The voluntary offer to sell by the landowners was a welcome initiative. The farmers regarded
their landowners as kind people who showed concern for them when they were still working in
the hacienda. “Hindi sila matapobre” (They do not discriminate us because we were poor). The
landowners provided housing, deep well, and electricity. On special occasions such as fiesta and
holy week, the farm workers and their families were brought to join in the occasion or watch the
parade. During summer, the landowner sponsored community excursions to the beach.
Other factors that contributed to the program were the support of government and nongovernment entities in capacity building, loan provision, and technical assistance in farm and
financial management; strong kinship relationship, cooperation of the beneficiaries and other
stakeholders; high level of awareness regarding existing policies for the protection of the rights
of children among the parents, school, LGU officials and the children themselves; and the
organization of small sugarcane planters to protect the interest of its members.
Land reform resulted in land acquisition among farmer-beneficiaries. Land was considered an
asset. But without adequate support programs, this asset could not be maximized. At most, it
provided a change of status from farm workers to small landowners. For many, it was temporary
relief because the of the farm expenses needed and the inequate farm income. The ARBs were
called the new “landed poor”.
C. The Effects of Land Reform on Children in Sugarcane Farms
In the 25 years of land reform in sugarcane, several studies were done on the impact of land
reform in general. However, no study had focused on the impact of land reform on child labor in
the Philippines. As an exploratory study, this research attempted to look at the potential effects
of land reform in sugarcane farms on children and child labor.
Changes in land ownership patterns should lead to changes in farm management . In a study of
children’s situation working in oil palm plantation which was subjected to land reform, different
land acquisition schemes came out such as the lease and out-growership. The farmerbeneficiaries who were granted with CLOAs were encouraged to form cooperatives (Center for
Trade Union and Human Rights, Inc., 2012).
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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The case studies showed that the transfer of land to the farmers did not necessarily lead to the
reduction of child labor in sugarcane farming. On the contrary, there were cases when child
labor increased as the demand on the farm household to manage the farm increased with
ownership. The cases described the various circumstances that resulted to child labor increase
and reduction.
1. Emerging Systems of Farm Management From Land Reform
Different systems of sugar farming management emerged as a result of land reform. The
emerging sugarcane farming system can either reduce or induce child labor, depending on the
arrangements that evolved among the sugarcane stakeholders.
Unlike rice and corn farming where the farmer-beneficiaries of the land reform program
managed and cultivated the farms through family-based system prior to land ownership, the
sugarcane farm beneficiaries were hired workers or employees of the hacienda or the sugarcane
corporation. The change in the land tenure theoretically transformed the hired workers into
farm owners and farm managers. However, the cases showed this was not the normal outcome.
Several systems, arrangements or modes of sugarcane farming management emerged.
Family-Based Farming
In this system of farming, the farmer-beneficiaries managed the farm together with their
families. The members of the family were mobilized to help in the farm, including children. The
farmer-beneficiaries managed the farm and provided the capital. When additional manpower
was needed, the farmer-beneficiaries hired additional workers for land preparation, planting,
weeding and harvesting. This system of farming was usually adopted during the first three years
after acquiring the land, as in the case of farmers in Dulao, Negros Occidental. However, when
confronted with the lack of capital and losses after the harvest, the farmer beneficiaries opted
to lease their land to relatives or friends called the “ariendador” and worked as hired workers in
the “ariendo system”.
There were farmers who succeeded in managing the farms by themselves, while hiring extra
workers to complement their labor. There were two kinds.
The first group included the few rich farmer-beneficiaries who became new landlords or
"ariendadors" by acquiring more land from farms leased by other farmer-beneficiaries who
decided to give up managing their farms. These "ariendadors" generated farm capital through
other sources such as trade and business of agricultural products, income from profession and
other jobs. Their sugarcane farms yielded more profits and brought them more assets and
wealth. This was an example of benefitting from agrarian reform but at the expense of other
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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farmer-beneficiaries. In Sitio Mischelle, Brgy. Dulao, Bago City, Negros Occidental, there were
only two farmer beneficiaries out of 58 who were engaged in this kind of farming system. In
Brgy. Nato, Castellana, Negros Occidental, about 10% of small planters were able to buy the
farms of other ARBs with money coming from family members working abroad, or from their
children who finished college and were already working, thus expanding their ownership to 10
to 20 hectares.
The second type of family farming was done by farmer-beneficiaries with small landholdings
ranging from 0.25 to one hectare or a little more. The farmers shifted from sugarcane to other
crops such as bananas, mangoes, coconut, and coffee and also practiced multi-cropping. This
farming system was best illustrated in Brgy. San Jose, Matanao, Davao del Sur.
Ariendo
As mentioned earlier, there were CLOA farmer-beneficiaries who decided to lease the land they
acquired because of lack of capital and other support facilities. They leased their land usually for
three years to individuals known as “ariendador” at a rate of P 15,000.00 per year. While the
farmer-beneficiaries remained as the owner of the land, the "ariendador" managed the farm
and got the proceeds. The CLOA farmer beneficiaries were sometimes hired as workers in the
farm and got paid as regular workers. After three years, the CLOA farmer-beneficiary either
tooks back and cultivated the farm himself, renewed the contract with the "ariendador" or
looked for another "ariendador". The total land area being managed by an "ariendador" could
be huge, like 30 hectares as in the case in Brgy. Dulao, Bago City. This mode of farming was
observed in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The same situation was also found in other
areas in Negros where the beneficiaries sub-leased the land to others because of the high
capital investment but low income generated from their small landholding (Diprose and
McGregor, 2009). In other areas such as Batangas, there were farmer beneficiaries who leased
their land and used the term “paupahan” or “pinapaupa” (being leased).
Prenda
In the Prenda system, the farmer-beneficiaries relinquished their ownership of the land to
another person in exchange for a fee of about P 100,000 per hectare for a duration of five to ten
years. The farmer-beneficiaries could take back the land if they could pay back the amount. If
the farmer-beneficiaries failed to pay back during the contract period, the lessor could continue
to manage the land and get all the proceeds. The farmer-beneficiaries who leased their lands
could get hired as workers in the farm and be paid based on the existing rate. This practice was
observed in Brgy. Dulao, Bago City, Negros Occidental. Out of the 58 farmer beneficiaries, 30
farmers or 52% leased their land through the prenda system. The biggest farm managed by a
lessor through prenda was seven hectares. The primary reason for resorting to prenda was the
need to finance the education of their children.
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Corporate management
In this system, a group of people or corporation took control of the land distributed to farmerbeneficiaries by buying the rights from the farmer-beneficiaries or leasing the land. It was
referred to as a form of "corporate tenancy". Others called it “corporatives”, a hybrid
organization of corporation and cooperatives. They acquired the land by providing loans to a
group of farmers with adjacent lands, convincing the small landholders with high land rentals
and outright buying of land rights. The owner would then hire the CLOA holders and other
farmers to work in the farm. The corporation usually had close ties with the Central Azucarera.
This system was practiced in Catandaan, Nasugbu, Batangas.
In corporate management, the ‘land’ leased by the farmer-beneficiaries served as the surrogate
stocks while the annual rental as the ‘dividend’. A study that determined if the corporate stock
option in sugarcane farm was beneficial to the farmers showed that the arrangement did not
empower the farmer members to be independent and to decide on their own. They did not
have the opportunity to develop their capacity to do so because management and decision
making were done by the corporate leaders. The corporate form substituted for the traditional
“amo” or landlord, and contributed in the perpetuation of the age-old bondage of master and
worker relationship (Patriarca, 1991).
Kin-Based Block Farming
This is a form of block farming where the farmer beneficiaries who were related to each other
but were not organized formally as a cooperative, worked collectively in the farm they
separately owned. The members of the group contributed equally in terms of capital inputs and
got equal share in the net income. They also borrowed capital from lenders whom they paid
before dividing the net income among the cluster or block members. The farmer-owners were
paid for their labor contribution at the same rate as the other hired workers.
There was usually a leader who served as coordinator of the group. Being an informal group,
there were no written rules, contracts, nor policies. As relatives, the members of the group
worked together on the basis of trust. An example of this type of farming was found in Brgy.
Efigenio Lizares, Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
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ARB Associations and Cooperatives
The CLOA holders leased the farm to the cooperatives that they themselves formed. Farmermembers served as board directors and management staff. Others worked and got paid as hired
laborers. The members of the cooperatives earned rebates. These cooperatives availed of the
needed support provided by government agencies and NGOs such as credit facilities, technical
support and education programs to help sustain the operation of the plantations.
Table 8 presents the different modes of farming practiced in the case study areas.
Table 8. System of Sugar Farm Management
Province
Batangas
Negros Oriental
Negros
Occidental
Davao del Sur
Municipality
Barangay
Mode of Farming
Nasugbu
Lian
Lian
Tanjay
Catandaan
Kapito
Prenza
Sta Cruz Nuevo
Manjuyod
Mandalupang
Mabinay
Bagtic
Talisay
Efigenio Lizares
Bago
Dulao
Murcia
Kabankalan
San Miguel
Salong
La Castellana
Matanao
Nato
San Jose
Corporate
Family Farming
Block Farming
Cooperatives
Family farming
Cooperatives
Family farming
Cooperatives
Family farming
Block Farming
Ariendo
Family Farming
Ariendo
Cooperatives
ARB Association
Family Farming
ARB Association
Family Farming
The different systems of sugarcane farming emerged as a response to the difficulties and needs
of the farmer-beneficiaries.
One of the difficulties faced by the farmer-beneficiaries/new “landlords” was the lack of capital
and technical skills in managing the sugarcane farms. Since they used to work as hired laborers
in the hacienda they were not involved in the overall management of the farm. As new owners,
they were confronted with the financial and technical difficulties in sustaining sugarcane
farming. To resolve these difficulties, they leased their land to individuals, "ariendador",
corporations or cooperatives.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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Another factor that gave rise to new farm management arrangements was the formation of
organized group of farmers to assert their rights to the land. After the lands were finally
distributed to them, they formed cooperatives or people’s organization and managed the farm
lands by themselves. This was made feasible with the assistance of government agencies and
NGOs.
Considering that small landholding in sugar farming was not viable, the DAR encouraged the
clustering of the farmers to consolidate farms lands. Block farming was encouraged from the
very beginning through the option of having a mother CLOA.
The economic status of the farmer –beneficiaries was a significant determinant of the system of
management that would be adopted. The well off farmer-beneficiaries who had capital funded
and managed the farm by themselves. They were even able to lease other small landholdings of
other farmer-beneficiaries, allowing them to acquire bigger sugarcane farms.
Another factor that influenced the system of farming management was the strong kinship
relationship. The farmer-beneficiaries leased their lands to their relatives who had the capacity
to pay the rentals. At the same time, the strong family ties also caused others to work together
by fostering land consolidation and collective farming. Hence, what emerged were kin-based
block farming and ariendo by relatives.
2. Child Labor Remains in Land Reformed Areas
Child labor still exists in sugarcane farms under land reform.
In 11 out of the 12 cases, there were children who were engaged in activities in sugarcane
farms. The most common activities were planting, preparation of planting materials, weeding
and making errands in the farms such as bringing food and water. These activities were
considered as less hazardous. The children and the parents claimed that the children worked in
the farm when there were no classes, such as during weekends and holidays.
Participation in hazardous activities such as application of fertilizer, plowing and harvesting were
still done though in a limited scale, usually among the boys aged 15-17. In one case, the father
was already old and sickly, hence the child did the plowing and harrowing of the field. Because
of the nature of the work in the farm, boys were involved in heavier farm work. This was also
the situation in other society such as Vietnam where land reform contributed to the reduction
of the girl’s work in agricultural household production but did not find comparable effects for
boys (Matz, Narciso and Newman, 2013).
Table 9 categorizes the different farm tasks that children do in sugarcane areas under land
reform.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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Table 9. Level of Risk, Activities and Situation of Children
Level of Risk*
Low Risk
Farm Activities*
Planting
Gathering and piling of sugarcane stalks
Situation in Areas With Land
Reform
Done by both boys and girls
below 17 years old in all areas
The children consider planting
as a very easy task because all
they need to do is to dig a
hole, plunge the stalks and
cover it.
There are even 4-year old girls
who find planting as part of
their playful moments.
Moderate Risk
High Risk
Weeding
Preparing sugarcane tops for planting
Canal trashing
Peeling off sugarcane leaves
Cutting sugarcane
Hauling and carrying sugarcane into trucks
Burning of sugarcane fields
Application of fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide
Driving tractors/trucks
Plowing the fields
Done by both boys and girls
below 17 years old in all areas
There are children who join
their parents in burning the
fields.
Boys aged 15-17are involved
in plowing because the father
is sickly.
Older boys ere engaged in
different tasks in harvesting
sugarcane.
*Source: ABK 3 LEAP (2014). OSH Primer: Hazardous Child Labor in Sugarcane Farms
The children acknowledged that their parents approved their involvement in sugarcane farming.
In almost all the cases, some FGD child participants were actually working in the farm. The same
was true for children working in the palm oil industry in Northern Mindanao provinces.
“Nearly all parents of child laborers themselves are aware that child labor is prohibited by law
and that there is a corresponding punishment to parents and/or guardians who send or allow
their children to work in the field. Ninety-nine percent of the FGD adult participants noted that
they do not have any other choice but to allow or to find work for their children to help the
family survive. They argued that the law is unfair because they are only forced by circumstances
to allow their children to work. They lament that the law (penalizing parents or guardians),
which they are generally familiar with, punishes them more for their poverty, rather than
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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address the issues pushing their children to work.” (Center for Trade Union and Human Rights,
Inc. 2012 pp. 33-38, 44).
While the parents tolerated, if not demanded, their children to help them in the farm, they had
mixed reactions about this. They expressed hope that their children would be able to complete
schooling so that they would get a chance for a better future. At the same time, they also
wondered who would inherit and continue to till the farm. To a certain extent, the practice of
leasing the land to "ariendador", corporation or cooperatives was a reaction to this question.
When their children would finish school and the parents got older, they could continue leasing
the land they got from land reform. The land therefore was regarded as an investment that
could provide a steady income from the rentals, even if nobody from the household would work
on the farm.
The eventual removal of the children of CLOA beneficiaries from working in the sugarcane farm
was considered as a possibility when the children get opportunities to take on new jobs.
However, this was not a guarantee that there would no longer be children working in sugarcane
farms. Another generation of non-landed parents working as hired workers would bring their
children with them in the farm to work. This cycle would be replicated across generations
unless other effective measures could be done to reduce child labor. Thus, mere land transfer to
the farmers is not a guarantee for a child labor-free sugar. As admitted by a provincial agrarian
officer, child labor in land reform program areas was not monitored nor tracked for possible
support services. These two issues were viewed on separate planes. Child labor reduction
component is therefore an essential element of a land reform program.
3. Child Labor Reduction
Under some circumstances and to a limited extent, there was a reduction of child labor in
sugarcane farms under land reform.
Under specific circumstances and to a limited extent, there was perceived reduction in the
number of child workers and the work hours spent by children in sugarcane farms under land
reform. Child labor reduction is possible under land reform in sugarcane if there existed an
enabling environment that discouraged parents from allowing or bringing their children to the
farm. This was illustrated in the case of rich farmer-beneficiaries who were able to lease more
lands from poor CLOA holders. Acting now as "ariendadors", they developed their capacities in
managing the farm, hired workers including CLOA holders, and gained profit from the
production. Having gotten out of poverty, their children no longer worked in sugarcane farms.
The child labor reduction in sugarcane farms could be explained by the inverted-U principle. The
“relation between child labor and land wealth at the level of each household is an inverted U,
meaning, as the land owned by a household continues to rise, the incidence of labor provided by
children of the household declines” (Bar & Basu, 2009 p. 488). If the farm sizes were large
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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enough, this would enable the farmers to have sufficient income. The estimated land area when
child labor declined was estimated to be three acres (Bar and Basu, 2009). As the landholdings
increased, the income generated by the household also tended to increase and could help farm
families overcome poverty.
Based on the case studies, the landholdings acquired by the farmer-beneficiaries averaged 0.5
hectares, not sufficient to generate income that would discourage families from having children
work in the farm. However, those who managed to increase their landholdings by leasing other
farms up to 10 hectare, would be able to generate more income, and thus, there would be no
need for children to work in the farm.
Likewise, because of awareness of child’s rights, there were cooperatives or corporations that
adopted the policy of not involving the children in the farm. The children could not be hired by
the cooperatives to work.
The children were not hired to work in sugarcane by these organizations . This was observed in
La Castellana, Negros Occidental; Prenza, Lian, Batangas; and Tanjay, Negros Oriental. Similarly,
in Brgy. San Miguel, Murcia, Negros Occidental, the people’s organization claimed that the
incidence of child workers decreased
In order to sustain this, strict monitoring was needed because, again, the parents working as
hired workers could mobilize their children or allow their children to help them in the farm.
The system of sugarcane farming, therefore, influenced to some extent the incidence of child
labor in the farms. The following matrix shows how child labor in sugarcane was reduced or
enhanced depending on the farm environment.
Table 10. Environment that Reduces or Induces Child Labor
Sugarcane Farming
System
Family-based farming
Environment That Reduces
Child Labor
New rich CLOA beneficiaries
managing the farms and not
allowing their children to
work
Environment That Induces
Child Labor
Poverty
Desire of children to help the
parents in the farm
Attitude of parents that they
should be helped by the
children in the farm
Landowners or managers
allow hired workers to bring
their children to the farm
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Sugarcane Farming
System
Environment That Reduces
Child Labor
Environment That Induces
Child Labor
Block farming through
ariendo and prenda
Block farming managers
disallow child labor in the
farm
Same as above
Kin-based block farming
Block farming leaders disallow
child labor in the farm
Same as above
Corporate farming
Corporate policy disallow Same as above
children to work in the farm
Cooperatives and ARB
Association
Policy disallowing children to Same as above
wor kin the farm
4. Child Labor Reduction not attributed to land reform
It is claimed that child labor in sugarcane farms has decreased but this is not attributed to land
reform implementation.
There were claims that fewer children work in the farms now but this was not solely attributed
to land reform. In La Castellana, for example, there was a decrease in the number of working
children aged 15-17. The figure cannot be quantified because there was no baseline data prior
to land reform implementation. However, the adult participants in the research (parents and
the non-beneficiaries) observed that there was a decrease in child labor compared to 10 years
ago. They attributed this more to the efforts of DOLE and NGOs such as ChildFund and ERDA
who advocated against child labor. Government programs such as the 4Ps of the DSWD required
children to be in school before money assistance could be transferred to the family
beneficiaries.
The case studies affirmed previous findings that land reform did not directly reduce child labor,
but in fact increased it under certain conditions.
“The results show that an increase in landholdings as an outcome of the land reform can,
in the presence of market imperfections, lead to an increase in child labor. This is
because the increased demand for labor on the family farm is stronger than the wealth
effect generated by the land reform. However, this result is not uniform across farm
families. First, it is only relevant for boys, because girls tend to assist in household
activities than in farm work. Second, larger households are able to meet the increased
demand for farm labor without the need for additional child labor. To the extent that
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smaller households tend to be poorer, it is mostly the poor households that sacrifice the
future wellbeing of their male children in order to satisfy current needs” (Kimhi, 2007).
5. Child Labor is Rooted to Poverty
Child labor in sugarcane is rooted to the families’ poverty situation and the children’s
socialization process.
Majority of the children expressed that they worked in the farm because they wanted to help
their parents earn, finish the work faster and cover bigger land areas. The children said that
“Nagtatrabaho kami dahil kasama ang mga katropa o kabarkada. Mahirap ang trabaho pero
kinakaya dahil masaya pag may kasamang mga bata” (Work is difficult but we are happy in the
company of other children”).
The children from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental disclosed the difficulty of the work and the
harsh working conditions like the intense heat of the sun penetrating their skin as well as
extreme tiredness:
”Kumukuha ako ng damo sa ilalim ng tubo, habang kumukuha ako ng damo, dama ko ang
napakasakit na sikat ng araw sa aking likuran at nararamdaman ko ang hirap at
pagod…Napakahirap pala pag walang lupain na sinasaka ang ating mga magulang.”(While I
weed, I could feel the intense heat of the sun as well as fatigue and the difficulty of the work.
Life is hard when our parents do not own the land.)
”Kahit gusto kong magpahinga, hindi pwede kasi hindi papayag ang nagbabantay sa amin.
Nagtatrabaho ako para may baunin ako sa pag-aaral ko, kasi minsan walang pera ang mga
magulang ko.”(Even if I want to rest, I cannot do so. Our supervisor will not permit me. I have to
work so that I will have money for my school needs because my parents do not earn enough.)
”Gusto ko nang magpahinga, pero kailangan kong tapusin (ang aking ginagawa). At kusang loob
akong nagtanim para makatulong sa aking mga magulang at para may panustos sa pag-aaral.
(I would like to rest but I need to finish the work assigned to me. I volunteered to work in the
farm to help my parents and to support my studies. “)
For the parents, the children worked in the farm because they were forced by circumstances.
Children provided additional help or free labor. Allowing children to work in the farm was part
of training and developing their love for work. This was also done to prepare their children to
eventually inherit the land to till. Key informants claimed that for as long as there is “pakyaw”
system and family-run arrangement, there would always be child labor.
Because of poverty, some children also worked in other farms. In Brgy. San Miguel, Murcia,
Negros Occidental for example, it was noted that children were also involved in other income
generating activities, not just farming. The reasons were: a) to increase family income; b) to
train the skills their children have; c) to instill in the children the value of money; and d) so their
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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children will not be ‘tambay’ (unemployed, idle). The parents wanted their children to learn ‘the
craft of farming’ for two reasons: to learn how to run a farm in the future; and for them to
realize the difficulty of farming.
The main reasons for child labor persistence were economic in nature. The social aspect was
regarded as secondary. Table 11 summarizes the different reasons why children continue to
work in sugarcane farms.
Table 11. Reasons Why Children Work in the Farm
Reasons
Classification
To help in their families’ finances for household
expenses such as food.
Economic: Increased capacity for
consumption to meet needs
The children want to earn extra to help pay their
tuition and other school expenses.
Economic: Increased capacity for
consumption to meet needs
The children work to lessen their parents’
financial burden.
Economic: Increased capacity for
consumption
Social: Value of helping the parents
Social and Economic: value of helping the
parents and economic efficiency in
production
Social and Economic: Social stratification
and identity due to economic status
Economic: capacity building as an
investment
Social: value of their capacities and they
are proud to pass it on to their children
Social: peer relationship
The children want to help their parents to finish
the work faster.
The children feel that they have no choice but to
work in the farm because they are poor
For children to learn ‘the craft of farming’
To be with friends who are also working in the
sugarcane farm
The children are happy and fulfilled for being
able to help their families.
To save money to buy mobile phones and play
internet games.
To experience the hardships of parents in making
a living for the family
Social: sense of social gratification
Economic: building capacity for
consumption
Social: for communication and peer
socialization
Social: Identification with the parents
In Brgy. San Miguel, Murcia, Negros Occidental, the farmers, children and non-beneficiaries
agreed that if children would not participate in farm work, the family’s income would remain
low. Although children’s work generally remained unpaid, it was considered as assistance to
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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their family or training of new skills. Involving children in farm work would mean saving on labor
wages to be paid to hired farm workers. The general sentiment though was that the children’s
priority is going to school despite their involvement in farm work.
6. Non-Beneficiaries’ Views on Child Labor
For the non- beneficiaries of land reform, it is not favorable for children to work in the farm, but
due to poverty they are compelled to work. Because of lack of other employment opportunities,
these children end up as hired workers in sugarcane farms when they become adults.
Not all farm workers became beneficiaries of land reform. They were not awarded with CLOA
because they were not the priority beneficiaries, nor were children of ARBs. Some also noted
instances when the overseer or those closer to the owner included the names of their relatives
as beneficiaries. Thus, land reform could also lead to displacement of other farm workers,
including child workers.
According to non-ARB’s in Brgy. Nato, Castellana, their status did not change; only their working
arrangement did. The land areas of the farms they were tilling became smaller. When they were
still employed by the landowner of a big hacienda, they received, apart from their regular salary,
the legislated yearly 13th month pay and membership to the SSS. Other benefits like groceries
during Christmas, and the conduct of other activities like training as well as medical missions to
improve their welfare were provided by the more benevolent ones. The small planters only gave
them their basic salaries without any benefit allotted for the workers even if they had worked
with them for a long time. Some of the FGD participants verbalized their feeling of helplessness
because they did not know where to go to seek for assistance. They also had a lot of questions
about their status but did not know whom to ask. Since they were not organized, their concerns
were not channelled to the appropriate government agencies who could provide assistance.
They also did not have any voice or representation to express their sentiments. Nonbeneficiaries expressed hope that similar assistance given to beneficiaries could also be
extended to them.
Given this context, how do they view the impact of land reform, especially on children working
in the farm?
In Efigenio Lizares, Talisay, Negros Occidental, the non- beneficiaries of land reform observed
that children working in the farm remained. All the non-beneficiaries who participated in the
FGD admitted that they had children or grandchildren working in the farm. They admitted that
some children were involved in hazardous work such as a 13 and a 17 year old boy doing
plowing and harvesting sugarcane, and a 14 year old boy manually loading cut sugarcane to the
cart.
Those from Dulao, Bago, Negros Occidental were not in favor of continuing child labor because
they were afraid that the children might be used to the work and end up as workers in the farm.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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The same was observed by those coming from Kapito, Lian, Batangas. When children started
earning, they chose not to go to school anymore. Some finished high school then went back to
sugarcane farming for lack of employment opportunities.
From the stories of the working children of non-ARBs in Brgy. Salong, Kabankalan, Negros
Occidental, their lives seemed to be a lot harder because poverty left them no other choice but
work in the farm They also realized that their effort would also enable them to continue their
studies.
In Kapito, Lian, Batangas, the non-beneficiaries claimed that children from households covered
by CARP were not different from children of non-beneficiary households in terms of economic,
health and education status. For them, both households could be considered poor, as long as
their parents remained small farmers. Some informants added the the number of child workers
had decreased due the presence of “sakadas”, locally known as “dayo”.
In Matanao, Davao del Sur, conditions of some ARBs and non-ARBs were perceived to be the
same economically, because most of the land acquired by ARBs were leased to individuals or
fellow ARBs who have the means to provide the needed farm inputs. Thus, they remained all
hired workers.
However, in Efigenio Lizares, Talisay, majority of non-beneficiaries who participated in the FGD,
said that they saw changes in the lives of the beneficiaries. They said that the beneficiaries were
able to send their children in school. They were able to buy household appliances and acquire
other assets that can be used for their livelihood. They also mentioned that some farmer
beneficiaries were able to help the non-beneficiaries.
7. Increased Income Among Farmers-Beneficiaries
The implementation of land reform has brought additional income to farmers who continued to
possess the land.
With the distribution of the land to the sugarcane farmers, the beneficiaries changed their
status from being hacienda workers to small landowners and managers doing farm work. As
discussed before, those who have the resources and who managed the land individually have
significantly improved their socio-economic conditions. In Brgy. Salong, Kabankalan, Negros
Occidental, for example, there were evidences of economic upliftment in about 40% of the ARB
families. This was observed especially among those who were able to raise the resources
required in the operation of their newly acquired land. However, majority who leased the land
to private "ariendador", corporations or cooperatives gained additional income by working in
the farm as daily wage earners, particularly in block farming. The additional income came from:


The lease of the land received by the CLOA owners in bulk amounting to
P30,000-45,000 per term of three years;
Wage as farmers on a daily basis when they work in the farm;
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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


Proceeds from collective farming and other income generating projects of the
association
Rebates among members of the cooperatives;
Income from other sources such as gardening, tricycle driving, contractual work
such as carpentry since the farmers have flexible schedules.
Generally, the children also gained income from working in the farm. Depending on the task
accomplished, the children were paid from P20 to P150 daily or P200 to P300 weekly for two
whole days of work. Some also said that they sometimes got P100 to P2, 000 per family when
the designated obligation was on a wholesale arrangement (pakyaw).
In Brgy. San Jose, Matanao, Davao del Sur, the farmers used to earn P60.00 per day as hired
workers before the land was distributed. Later, as ARB farmer-beneficiaries, they earned P130
to P150 per day, depending on the task they do. The children received the same rate as the
adults for the same tasks performed. The payment ranged from P120 to 130 per day plus meals.
They were paid P130-150 if no food was provided.
The farmer-beneficiaries from Brgy. Mandalupang, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental categorically said
that their lives improved after land reform. They earned more and were able to pay their Land
Bank dues of P3,600 per hectare per year. The same sentiment was expressed by the farmer –
beneficiaries from Brgy. Efigenio Lizares, Talisay, Negros Occidental. They acknowledged that
their income improved under land reform. In addition to the P10,000 per cropping that they
received, they still worked as hired workers and got P500 per day. For working 15 days in a
month they got P7, 500. The bulk income from each cropping season generated new source of
income. They did not have this before when they were simply hired workers in the hacienda.
In Brgy. Nato, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, the farmer beneficiaries claimed that in having
their land collectively managed, they got a weekly pay. Their current income from working in
the farm could sustain their daily needs, including the educational expenses of the children until
college. This was made possible with the support that they received from both the government
and NGOs, whose trust they earned due to their performance. They were able to fulfill their loan
obligations by carrying on farm operations and other income generating endeavors. They also
said that their incomes increased which made it possible for them to provide for their family’s
needs. As owners of the land, they were assured of regular income. It brought a feeling of
security which they did not feel when they were only laborers, tilling the land for a landowner.
The arrangement enabled the farmer-beneficiaries to have bulk income from the lease as well
as daily income when they worked as hired workers. With their relatively free schedule, they
also did extra jobs like contractual carpentry and as tricycle driver. Owning the land allowed
them more options to earn.
It was generally recognized, though, that the increase in the income of the farmers was not
sufficient for them to be out of poverty. The farmers from Brgy. Dulao, Bago, Negros Occidental,
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
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for example, still considered themselves as poor. But they considered their present situation as
better than when they were still hired workers in the hacienda.
This supports the findings of Fabella (2014) that the land reform program transformed the
farmers into small landowners, but they continued to be poor. Land reform “created a new class
of people, the landed poor” (Fabella, 2014). As shown in the cases studies, many of these small
landowners were not managing the farms efficiently because of inadequate support system,
complexity of sugarcane faming management, and the economy of scale that makes small
landholding not economically viable for sugarcane. Thus, they leased the lands to individuals,
corporate groups and cooperatives to make sugarcane farming more feasible.
Though they considered their income as inadequate, there were improvements in their quality
of life. Among the indicators they mentioned were:

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They were able to buy better food like chicken..
They were able to improve their houses by having hollow blocks and iron sheet
roofing; others were able to own a house.
They were able to buy household appliances such as television and plastic
furniture.
They acquired assets that can be used for investment such as tricycles and sarisari stores, farm implements and rice mill.
The parents were able to send their children to school, even to college because
of the bulk income they got for leasing the land.
The farmers said that they were able to send their children to school
The children said that they were able to buy personal belongings like new
clothes and shoes
Some of them invested in buying tricycles for additional income
Some have acquired vehicles such as motorbikes and SUV.
The improvement in the quality of life of the families of the land reform beneficiaries definitely
had ramifications on the well-being of the children, no matter how small the improvement was.
For many of them, it was better to have some improvement than having nothing at all.
8. Socio-Cultural and Political Impact
Despite the absence of a baseline study on the socio-economic conditions of the farmers and
their families prior to land reform, the testimonies of the farmer-beneficiaries and their children
on how land ownership affected their lives were valid evidences to show the impact of land
reform on families working in sugarcane farms. Culled out from the data of the cases, the
following are the composite picture of the socio-cultural and political impact of land reform.
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More children going to school
As a consequence of gaining more income, particularly the bulk income that the farmerbeneficiaries get from leasing their land, there are more children who are now in school. The
farmer-beneficiaries from Brgy. Bagtic, Mabinay, Negros Oriental, for example said that since
they occupied the lands and had control over the last harvest, they were able to send their
children to school. The same sentiment was expressed by those from Brgy. Dulao, Bago, Negros
Occidental.
The farmers said that the land reform program benefitted them. “Malaking tulong para sa mga
small planters. Hindi na kami nahihirapan. Pwedeng magtrabaho o hindi. Napag-aaral na namin
ang mga bata sa kolehiyo kasi may pera na nakukuha kami mula sa "ariendador" (It was a big
help for small planters. We were able to send the children to college because we raised money
from the ariendador). Before, they were hard up, but now, their situation had improved. The
children attested that they have siblings who were able to go to college because of the
additional income of the parents.
Children were said to be more involved in the farm during weekends and after class. But still
there were children who absent from school due to farm work.
Improved Family Well-being
Key informants claimed that the quality of life of the families who acquired land under land
reform improved. For some, land ownership by the parents meant additional income to the
family. Children had better clothes and better food on the table. As mentioned earlier, the
parents who acquired land were able to build their house, put up a sari-sari store, bought a
tricycle, able to access electric services. They said that their houses improved. The families
bought additional assets like household appliances .
Unity and Conflict in the Family
The Filipinos are known for having strong family ties. This is not a new idea. According to ARBs,
their families became closer after becoming small landowners. In Brgys. Efigenio Lizares, Talisay
and La Castellana, Negros Occidental, the farmers said that the whole family helped each other
in working in the farm. Before, the parents were hired workers in the hacienda and the new
arrangement enabled them to manage the farm. The clustering of the families and the block
farming arrangement made the family members of the block more united since they had to
manage and work on the consolidated farm together.
In Brgy. Dulao, Bago City, Negros Occidental, the beneficiaries said that they became closer to
their relatives who acted as the "ariendadors". They were also able to borrow their tricycles in
times of emergency.
There were also cases when the process of acquiring the land resulted to conflict among
relatives with regard to the management of the farm. What happened in Brgy. Efigenio Lizares,
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Talisay, Negros Occidental was a classic case. The 24 families who belong to the same clan were
not in agreement on the strategy possession of the land. While one petitioned against the
landowners, the other group wanted to collaborate. Initially, there were 16 petitioners. Five of
them were more critical due to an unacceptable waiver they saw in the agreement. When they
lost the case, these five petitioners were evicted from their residences. In this case, the farmers
were not united in their struggle for the land as shown in the differences, with respect to the
petition for land reform and subsequent decisions pertaining to the management of the farms.
Enhanced Self-Esteem
Many farmer-beneficiaries were very happy with the distribution of the land. In Brgy.Dulao,
Bago, Negros Occidental, one female farmer-beneficiary summed these up when she said, “nais
naming makatikim sa buhay na walang amo…makita na kaya naming gawin sa sariling
kakayahan... Ito ay gantimpala sa amin pagkatapos ng maraming taon na pagtratrabaho” (We
want to experience not having a master in our lives…to see that we can use our own
resources…The land is a reward for us after many years of hardship and work).
Before, they considered themselves as squatters in the land. Now, they own the land.
In Brgy. Nato, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, the members of the association asserted that
the land reform program helped a lot in uplifting the lives of their families, as well as in keeping
peace and order in their community. Before, they were usually afraid (nangingilag) of their
landlord. Now, they do not have any landlord. Their self confidence improved, seeing the
growth of their group’s resources. Their feeling of security was enhanced with their awareness
that they could rely on their association when emergencies occur. Furthermore, their sense of
responsibility was bolstered by their strict adherence to the policies and procedures they
formulated. They were able to meet their obligations on time.
Break-up and Conflict With the Landlords
The case in Dulao showed the kindness of the landowners who supported the land reform
program by voluntarily offering to sell the land. The process of transfer was not problematic. As
a consequence, though, the social bonds between the landowners and the farmers also
stopped, which was a disadvantage to the farmers. Whereas before, the famers were able to
benefit from the assistance of the landowners, now they were left on their own.
In Brgy. Efigenio Lizares, Talisay, Negros Occidental, there were conflicts between the farmers
and the landowners that ended up with the landowner using their power to fight back against
those who petitioned against him. This included the eviction of the farmers from the land where
they used to live and cutting of benefits that the farmers used to enjoy.
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Community Governance, Leadership Conflict and the Environment
In most of the cases, the farmer-beneficiaries said that they continued to be active in
community activities, but they said that this was just the same as when they were still in the
hacienda. The farmer beneficiaries said that the land reform program had no impact on their
participation in the community governance.
In some communities, the process of acquiring the land resulted to conflict among leaders and
groups. The case of Brgy. Catandaan, Nasugbu, Batangas illustrated an example. The leaders of
the organization Damayan ng Magsasakang Batangas (DAMBA) were in conflict with the
Barangay Chair. In 1996, around 28.4 hectares of the 104 hectares distributed to the farmerbeneficiaries went into the hands of a corporation which was to be managed by the “kapitana”.
The agreement was equal sharing of expenses and income. But eventually, it was “kapitana”
who shouldered the expenses. The “milling” was handled by the corporation, thus they had
control of the income which they allegedly did not share with “kapitana”. Some DAMBA
members and officials were against the “kapitana” and filed a suit asking that the 28.4 hectares
managed by the “kapitana” be redistributed to their members who had less than three hectares
of land to farm.
A more complicated case was the one in Brgy. Bagtic, Mabinay, Negros Oriental where there
was conflict between the two groups who both claimed to be legitimate beneficiaries of land
reform. There were interventions by the provincial DAR, military, church people and NGOs but
the CLOA holders still could not be installed because of the tense situation that could turn
violent anytime. The process of installation and mediation and the possibility of violence took
the toll on the families. They felt that the government was not doing enough to settle the case
and had lost trust on the system.
In sugarcane farming communities where there were cooperatives collectively farming the
farms, it was inevitable that conflicts emerged due to internal “struggles over power that affect
the construction and maintenance of collective identities” (Diprose & Mc. Gregor, 2009).
Because of the complexity of the organization and the challenges posed by sugarcane farming,
conflict would arise despite the common goal of working together. What happened among the
organized farmers in Brgy. Efigenio Lizares in Talisay City attested to the reality that when
conflicts were mismanaged, division could be heightened. Violence could result as in the case of
Brgy. Bagtic, Mabinay.
A very positive note on the unexpected outcome of land reform was the change in the
community environment as experienced in Brgy. San Jose, Matanao, Davao del Sur. The farm
sizes given to the farmer beneficiaries were very small ranging from 0.25 to 1.2 hectares. This
made sugarcane production very unsustainable. To maximize the production of the land, the
ARB farmer-beneficiaries did inter or multi cropping of sugarcane, coconut, bananas and mango.
The result was a better environment as the community that used to be planted only with
sugarcane was changed to multi-layered crops. In addition to reducing the risk of sugarcane
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mono-cropping, this good practice became advantageous in maintaining a balanced eco-system
of the environment. The community looked aesthetically better because of the improved
vegetation.
The data from the case studies provided a mixed picture of the positive and negative
consequences of land reform on child labor. On one hand, land reform produced assets and
opportunities for families and children to have improved socio-economic conditions: education,
food, housing. These could mean removal of children of “better income” families from farm
work. But for those who remained poor despite being “landed” or who lost the land acquired
under land reform, child labor is sustained to save on wages for hired labor.
Land reform, with the varied farming arrangements in sugarcane, has brought about changes in
social relations and production relations. Farm management was transferred from the big
landowners to small land owners, farmers groups and cooperatives. Dependency relations
between landlords and farm workers were disrupted, with a new emerging “landed” class taking
shape.
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CHAPTER FOUR
INTEGRATED ANALYSIS
A. Land Reform, Poverty and Child Labor
Landlessness, poverty and child labor are closely interwoven. The main goal of the agrarian
reform program is poverty reduction. Studies have shown that “rural poverty and landlessness
are closely linked… Poverty is highest in the top provinces where there have been large backlogs
in land distribution”(Manahan, 2014). At the same time, poverty is seen as one of the push
factors for child labor. Even at the early stage of CARP implementation, it was criticized that the
program led to massive land speculation and agricultural restructuring spree resulting in wide
scale land and crop conversions. This was accompanied by the cancellation of Certificates of
Land Transfer (CLT) and revocation of CLOAs. As a result, the supposed farmer-beneficiaries
returned to being landless and dependent on big business and landowners (Ibon, 1988).
In the case study areas, the land reform implementation process was depicted as slow and
incomplete. There were several barriers and challenges in the administrative aspects and in
identifying and dealing with the beneficiaries. There was inadequate support for credit and
technical training for individual farmers in managing small farms. Conflicts emerged among
competing beneficiaries and resistance from some landowners to fully implement land reform.
In some communities, violence took place.
Many farmer-beneficiaries were also not adequately prepared to become farm managers. Some
even lost ownership of their farms due to huge debts and other productive options. Sugarcane
farming required economy of scale, thus, small farm sizes tended to be not economically viable.
In the absence of adequate farm support mechanisms, agricultural income remained low.
Although there were acknowledgements of the benefits that the farmers and their families
derived from the program, there were also assessments that the program did not achieve the
level of economic upliftment expected by the farm workers. A leader of a peasant organization
in Negros asserted that “unless the government and DAR in particular, stand sincere and
consistent in their commitment to the disbandment of land monopoly, the farmers will continue
to face the violence of the powerful and the armed landlords, and will therefore, be forced to
fight back”(Ombion, 2003).
Concentrating on the economic efficiency of CARP and the welfare improvement of the target
population, Fabella (2014), concluded in his study that CARP, after more than two decades of
implementation, failed to reduce poverty among the majority of its beneficiaries. The land
ownership design of CARP was an inferior type of ownership. One of the flaws was the “unequal
exchange where the productivity of land depends in its capacity to command financing… the
CARP law effectively outlawed that capacity, making the land conveyed to the beneficiaries
‘effectively inferior’ to that bought at the market place from the landowners” (Fabella, 2014 as
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cited by Guadalquiver, 2014). Thus, the farmer-beneficiaries of the land reform program
remained poor despite being landed.
Land redistribution alone cannot eliminate poverty among the farm households. At best, land
reform became a one-time asset building: from being a tiller to becoming a small landowner.
Without adequate support, this land asset cannot be maximized, or it can deteriorate or be lost.
Thus, the cycle of poverty and landlessness continues. The results of the study affirm that land
distribution of small landholdings alone is not enough to lift the farmer-beneficiaries from
poverty.
B. Socio-Economic Impact of Land Reform
According to Vista, Nel and Binns (2012), agrarian reform can have economic and social impact
to the community.
Economic impact. Data showed that income from farming alone is not enough to meet the farm
households’ financial needs. Although many beneficiaries were able to gain additional assets
(appliances, tricycle, furniture, house, etc), these did not significantly change their economic
status. They have to resort to additional livelihood sources. Some said that if they relied on
farming activities alone, they could not afford to send their children to finish school.
Social impact. Land tenure security tended to be temporary due to financial obligations that
were not be met by beneficiaries, mismanagement, and legal conflicts due to competing
interests.
Even though farm income did not improve significantly, the farmer-beneficiaries acknowledged
that they gained greater sense of freedom and self-determination. Unfortunately, some
beneficiaries sold their lands because of economic pressure which resulted to disempowerment
and long-term marginalization.
One significant criticism of land reform, as implemented in other countries and in the
Philippines, is that it can lead to social exclusion of the poorest sector of society. Many hired
workers, including child workers, are excluded since they are not qualified to become land
reform beneficiaries. They, in fact, become displaced workers since the small landowners can no
longer afford to hire additional farm hand.
In conclusion, the current state of agrarian reform has only established the precondition for land
security to the rural poor. However, to achieve genuine sustainability, there should be a strong
partnership between the government and the communities. The government needs to adopt a
more holistic approach rather than simply give away lands in implementing agrarian reform.
Empowerment depends on the development of a partnership between civil society, specifically
with the farmer beneficiaries, to take a pro-active role in making the vision into a reality (Vista,
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Nel & Binns, 2012). Land reform must also consider provisions to address its implications to
other affected farming sectors, including child workers and other displaced farm workers.
C. Social Movement and Land Reform
The government’s efforts in pursuing land redistribution have been significantly influenced by
the social movement in the country. The role of social movement and people’s participation
need to be considered in the crafting and implementation of any land reform program.
The demand for genuine land reform became stronger after the 1986 “people power
revolution” that ousted the authoritarian government of Marcos (Diprose & McGregor, 2009).
This was heightened during the “Mendiola Bridge massacre” on January 22, 1987 when 13
members and supporters of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the
Philippines) were killed while rallying near Malacañang Palace for genuine land reform (Fuwa,
2000).
How relevant is the concept of social movement in the struggle for genuine land reform in the
Philippines?
(Social movement involves)… “increasingly important voices advocating and
campaigning for alternative approaches. Social movements provide forums through
which the extent the different groups are benefitting or suffering from, and resisting or
contesting, the rapid changes of development can be observed (Watts, 2000). Such work
is important to provide insights into the politics of economic difference and the ‘struggle
of the exploited and oppressed for systematic social emancipation (Houston & Pulido,
2002)… such movements potentially articulate ‘alternative to development through their
various forms of resistance “ (Diprose & Mc. Gregor, 2009 p. 54 ).
In the case studies described earlier, there are manifestations and expressions of social
movement in demanding and negotiating for land reform among the farmers. The engagement
of the organized farmers groups contributed to the emergence of collective sugarcane farming
management arrangements among the beneficiaries.
One of the strategies of the people’s movement is the people-initiated land reform through land
occupation. An earlier study describing the journey of farm workers in acquiring their lots by
occupying the property abandoned by the owner yielded significant lessons. Guided by the
provisions of P. D. 27, the farmers sought the assistance of DAR and other agencies to pursue
what they believed as their right to own the land they were tilling. It was observed that a
number of hindrances affected the attempts at improving the lives of these beneficiaries.
Among those mentioned were: “the lack of organized support services; the lack of DAR field
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personnel and the lack of social preparation of farmers to become beneficiaries. A people
initiated land reform can thrive if: the land has been abandoned for some time; the owner is
absentee and has other resources and the land occupants have a certain degree of politicization
and knowledge (even from informal sources) of the agrarian reform program” (Lopez-Gonzaga &
Lapuz, 1991 p. 53).
Other collective farm management arrangements in sugarcane have emerged in practice:
family-based farming, block farming, and cooperatives. These forms are generally anchored to
cooperation, pooled resources and kinship relationship. In such arrangements, the farmerbeneficiaries jointly engage in farm management. Collaborative efforts among farmerbeneficiaries create an enabling environment for more sustained farming practices. Pooled
assets and improved capacities can serve as the backbone for more viable economic activities,
including sugarcane production.
D. Land Reform and Child labor
What factors push children to work in the farm? There are several studies that try to explain the
phenomenon of child labor in agriculture. One study concluded that “child labor increases way
past the value of average landholding and declines well before the observed maximum
landholding.” This means that beyond a certain point, the incidence of child labor in a household
declines as the land owned by the family continued to rise, thus, the inverted-U pattern. They
found that “for poor households, capital and labor market imperfections and the fact that
children’s marginal productivity increases with landholdings result in an increase in child labor as
land rises. For sufficiently large landholdings, education is preferred and child labor drops.” The
study also considered bequests of landholdings showing that although child labor increases for
those belonging to the first generation, the aggregate labor provided by children in succeeding
generation declines (Basu, Das & Dutta, 2010).
As a consequence of having “landed poor”, Kimhi (2007) argues that “increase in landholdings as
an outcome of the land reform can, in the presence of market imperfections, lead to an increase
in child labor. This is because the increased demand for labor on the family farm is stronger than
the wealth effect generated by the land reform”.
Land reform does not eliminate child labor. This was observed in almost all the case studies. For
small farms, children become part of the family labor. In some cases, however, the local farm
group can set-up guidelines to address child labor (age requirement, acceptable farm work,
work hours and days, or even non-employment of children). Under certain circumstances,
reduction of child labor hours can be observed. What is needed is to generate awareness to
ensure the social protection of children.
In a more recent study (Lima, et.al., 2015) parental preferences are factored in to analyse the
effects of household wealth to child labor. The results showed that households vary in their
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responses to increases in landholdings. The results yielded statistically significant results for
both boys and girls. The parental preference as either ‘altruistic’ or ‘non-altruistic’ influences the
prevalence of child labor in the household’s farm. Children of altruistic households work for a
few number of hours from the onset, with more preference for child’s leisure or schooling, while
those of non-altruistic households work many hours a day. For altruistic households, child labor
declined as land ownership increased. On the other hand, for non-altruistic households, child
labor only declined when land was greater than 10.58 acres for boys and 54.96 acres for girls. It
was also found that households tended to be more altruistic towards boys. For altruistic
families, the luxury axiom can explain child labor, while the wealth paradox would hold true for
non-altruistic families (Lima, et.al., 2015).
The parents’ role in determining child labor is seen in families that make a cost-benefit analysis
between sending the children to work or to school. Children’s labor increases the household
income, but reduces study and leisure time (De Moura & Becker & Bueno, 2014; Lewis, 1973).
This situation is very real in the cases. As stated earlier, the children have the approval of the
parents to work in the farm. For the parents, child labor is a cost cutting measure and a way to
complete farm work faster.
The main motivation for children working in sugarcane farms in the 12 case studies is rooted to
poverty, even if there are good reasons cited such as the desire to help and children’s wish to
identify with the hardship of the parents. Apparently, the parents approve this practice. Thus,
even if the parents feel altruistic with their children, the circumstances force them to engage
their children to work in the farm. Furthermore, the sizes of the farms distributed are very small
to guarantee adequate income. This supports the inverted U model that says that child labor
increases when the farmers gain more land. As the land possession becomes larger, there will
be a point when child labor will decrease. The latter is brought about by the fact that the
farmers now have more than enough income and they do not need to send their children to
work in the farm. This was what happened among the farmer-beneficiaries who turned into
"ariendador" by renting the lands of other CLOA holders. They gained more land and earned
more income, thus, child labor declined.
Child labor was reduced in communities where there was a strong policy preventing the hiring of
children to work in the farms. This is true in cooperatives and ARBs who were aware of child
labor laws and have the political will to implement the law and their policies.
The concept of bonded child labor has historical roots in agriculture. Basu and Chau (2004)
looked at the existence and continuity of the phenomenon bonded child labor and analyzed the
static and dynamic consequences of policy interventions. They said that in rural agricultural
environment, the control of local wealth in the form of land and capital is usually with the
money lenders who are often the landowners. Because of this interlinked relationship, bonded
child labor becomes part of an institutional arrangement wherein the farmers pay their
outstanding household debts through labor services provided by children. Bonded child labor,
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in its strict sense, may no longer be observed. However, vestiges of cultural valuation of child
labor through lower wages and unpaid family labor still exist at present.
Agrarian institutions (farmers groups, cooperatives, civil society groups, state agencies) can
influence the crafting of policies and programs to eradicate child labor. International policy
making, such as trade sanctions can effectively reduce child labor. Unfortunately, most of these
institutional mechanisms tend to have seemingly disparate agenda. Land reform is focused on
land redistribution. And child labor involves a different set of interventions. Although in real-life
setting, these two social concerns are actually intertwined.
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CHAPTER FIVE
LAND REFORM IMPLEMENTATION AND ITS POLICY AND PRACTICAL
IMPLICATIONS TO THE SUGARCANE CHILD WORKERS
The study puts forward specific policy and practical implications of land reform implementation
in sugarcane to children working in sugarcane farms, focusing on five areas of concern: policy
review and integration of child labor agenda; adequate support programs; education and
advocacy; valuation of agricultural work; and social protection of children working in sugarcane
farms.
A. Policy Review and Integration of Child Labor Agenda
Land distribution on its own cannot guarantee poverty reduction. This has been demonstrated
in numerous studies on the impact of land reform. Unless poverty issues are resolved, child
labor remains an option for many poor farm households. The current land reform policy needs
to be reviewed and re-framed for it to adequately address the gaps in its implementation as well
as the social exclusion of specific sectors in its pursuit of social equity. The land reform concept,
in its present form, is silent about other agrarian issues such as child labor.
Land reform has always been viewed as a poverty reduction strategy. Farmer-beneficiaries are
construed as adults, not recognizing children as farm workers. Thus, the child labor agenda is
distinct from land reform issues. This gap must be bridged. At best, children’s concerns must be
integrated into the land reform agenda.
For more effective implementation of land reform, particularly in sugarcane¸ the following
concerns must be pursued:
a. Support facilities and services must be provided, particularly capital, training on farm
management, alternative cropping system and people’s milling facilities so that the farmers
will not be dependent on private sugar milling centers.
b. Incorporating child reduction strategies in land reform programs such as prohibition of
children working in hazardous activities in the farm.
c. Enhancement of block farming practice since disaggregating land into small farm sizes is not
viable in sugarcane farming.
d. Enhanced support to cooperatives and people’s organizations of small sugarcane planters
who are CLOA holders.
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e. With the limited institutional capacities of the field offices of the DAR, the mobilization of
the legitimate NGOs in organizing, training and technical assistance to farmers and
cooperatives. Engagement with the NGOs as partners should be transparent, above ground
and properly monitored and reported so as not to fall into the trap of ‘bogus’ NGOs
associated with earlier agricultural scams.
B. Adequate support programs
There is an urgent call for the proper implementation of the land reform policy, particularly the
provision for adequate support facilities and services.
Poverty is regarded as the driving force that compels children to work in the farm. If farm
families can generate sufficient income to support farm operations and capital to pay for
workers, then the children need not be engaged in farming. Likewise, children work in the farm
because of their desire to help their parents and to have additional income for their school and
personal needs. With increasing farm income of the CLOA beneficiaries, child labor in the farm
can be minimized.

Provision of credit facilities for the farmers to enable them to have enough capital for
farming, especially payment of hired workers to do the tasks used to be done by children.

Putting up of socio-economic enterprises that are appropriate to the resources and
capacities of the people in the area. These social enterprises can vary from one area to
another. However, there are common features and principles that should govern these
alternative enterprises:
a. It should be resource based, meaning the resources must be available in the area;
b. It must support something that is already existing but needs external support to
enhance its productivity or marketability;
c. The services or product must be responsive to the needs of the community or the target
market.
d. Capital should be provided from low-interest rate loans, possibly from cooperatives. The
social enterprise can also be initiated by existing cooperatives and the members as the
workers in the social enterprises.
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e. Capacity building in managing social enterprises has to be in place to ensure the
efficiency and effectiveness of the operations.

Crops diversification and multi-cropping can be done as shown in the experience in Davao
del sur.
C. Education and advocacy
It is said that child labor in the farm has become a part of the people’s culture. There is a cycle of
reinforcement where the children work in the farm to respond to certain needs. Such response
however, reinforces the motivation and consciousness of both parents and children to work in
the farm. Thus, sugarcane farm becomes part of the socialization mechanism of children,
reinforced by the parents and the farming practice. Education plays a major role in changing the
mindset of parents and children:
a. Integration of the concepts, processes and impacts of chid labor in sugarcane in the school
curriculum for the children to see its consequences. With the implementation of the K1-12
curriculum by the DepEd, there will be additional two years where new subject matters can
be introduced in existing subjects, or by creating new subjects focusing on children’s rights.
This must be initially taught at the elementary level and sustained through high school.
b. Creation of multi-purpose centers in areas where there are children working in the farm.
This center shall serve as alternative space for children to learn and earn, instead of going to
the farm. The center must provide recreational activities; educational enhancement through
mentoring and tutoring; skills and capacity development that can be used for employment
such as computer literacy, food processing, and restaurant management, sales and
marketing.
c. Strict monitoring of children’s attendance in school and their engagement in sugarcane
farming. As exemplified by an NGO, its role in monitoring the school attendance of children
made it difficult for the children to engage in child labor activities in the community. Thus,
children were able to work in the sugarcane farm only during summer vacation or
weekends.
D. Valuation of Agricultural Work
Education and advocacy efforts are key inputs in changing the mindset of both adults and
children regarding the valuation of agricultural work as a viable livelihood option, without
compromising the safety and well being of children. Aside from parents and children, the service
providers (local officials, government personnel, NGO workers) must be equipped to respond to
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 54
the local issues and gaps in ensuring the proper implementation of land reform that benefit the
farm families, especially the poor. Local organizations and cooperatives must also be involved in
the social protection of children, including child workers.
It is noted that most child workers aspire for jobs outside of farm work. This can be attributed
to the inadequacy of farm income. This has implications to managing family owned farms
acquired under land reform on a long term perspective. How can children of farmers develop
appreciation of agriculture as a viable and productive way of earning a living. This is important
to the pursuit of sustainable development and food security, at the same time ensuring
children’s protection.
June 30, 2014 is not the end of land reform. Under the law, all areas that have been served with
certificate of coverage before that date will still be processed. In fact, one officer of the local
DAR asserts that the Philippine constitution is very explicit about land reform or the distribution
of land as a core program of the government. With the supremacy of the constitution over
enacted laws by Congress, it now becomes apparent that a new legislation has to be enacted to
continue the land reform program. This study shows that the distribution of the land created
better socio-economic condition among those who held on to their land, either through familybased farming, block farming or cooperatives. While it was acknowledged that the farmers are
still poor, they recognized that their present situation is better than before.
E. Social protection of children working in sugarcane
The children working in the sugarcane farm are very vulnerable due to a number of factors:




Poverty conditions that affect their family relations, work engagement, health and
school performance;
Parental authority and consent for them to continue working in the farm;
Socialization process that makes child labor in the farm as part of cultural practice;
Young age that makes the decision making process susceptible to abuses and
marginalization as children.
Given these vulnerabilities, the children are at risk due to several factors. These risks include
health risks such as getting sick or wounded while working; educational risk of not being able to
study well and being absent in school; risk of getting sexually abused in the farm, though this
was found to have small probability; and the risk of social seclusion, by compromising their
social and recreational activities .
Considering these vulnerabilities and risks the children face in the sugarcane farms, the core
strategy should be risk reduction. This means disallowing the children from engaging in
hazardous activities in the short term and keeping the children away from the sugarcane farm
activities in the long run.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 55
Risk reduction measures entail the support, participation and complementation among the
various stakeholders: the children, the parents, cooperatives, barangay leaders, government
agencies, NGOs and the church. Several measures to address child labor have been put forward
in the previous sections and these can be best put into action through the collaboration of these
stakeholders.
Concluding note:
Does land reform offer new opportunities to minimize child labor in sugarcane farms? With the
imperfections and shortcomings of its current state of implementation, concerted efforts of the
different stakeholders must be harnessed. Land reform must move beyond mere land
redistribution. Greater access to support programs can increase the viability of block farming
and farm cooperatives. Hopefully, increased farm income can make a difference in the efforts to
eliminate child labor.
As Kimhi (2007) aptly poses the challenges regarding the possible influence of land reform on
child labor:
“Land reform may lead to a higher rural inequality in the long run. The policy implications are
that land reforms in transition countries should include, as an integral ingredient, the
development of rural land, labor and credit markets, in order to avoid the repercussions
associated with increased child labor.”
.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 56
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