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 II - Cases
Volume II - Cases
This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of
Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply
endorsement by the United States Government.
Emmanuel M. Luna, Ph.D.
Project Director
Leah B. Angeles
Leticia S. Tojos, Ph.D.
John Erwin S. Bañez
Anna Liza R. Magno
Project Research Team
Jocelyn T. Caragay
Program Director
Ma. Theresa V. Tungpalan, Ph.D.
Program Associate
Josefina M. Rolle
Research Associate
Maricel P. San Juan
Administrative/Finance Assistant
I. Introduction
II. Batangas Province
Case 1. Catandaan, Nasugbu
Case 2. Kapito, Lian
Case 3. Prenza, Lian
III. Negros Oriental Province
Case 4. Sta. Cruz, Tanjay
Case 5. Manadalupang, Manjuyod
Case 6. Bagtic, Mabinay
IV. Negros Occidental Province
Case 7. Efigenio Lizares, Talisay
Case 8. Dulao, Bago
Case 9. San Miguel, Murcia
Case 10. Salong, Kabankalan
Case 11. Nato, La Castellana
V. Davao del Sur Province
Case 12. San Jose, Matanao
The second volume of the research report on Land Reform Implementation in Selected
Sugarcane Farms contains the summary of the case studies on land reform implementation in
sugarcane areas and its implications to child labor. Twelve cases were selected from Batangas,
Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Davao del Sur. The provinces were chosen based on the
extent of land reform undertaken in sugarcane farms. The twelve communities were identified
in consultation with the partner agencies. The following criteria were considered in site
the land reform program was implemented in the areas
the area is covered by the partner agencies
the area is representative of a specific mode of sugar farming system
the number of communities covered by the partners agencies.
Table 1 shows the 12 barangays and the mode of farming adopted when land reform was
Table 1. Case Study Areas and the Mode of Farming
Davao del Sur
Mode of Farming
Corporate Farming
Family-Based Farming
Block Farming
Sta Cruz Nuevo
Family-Based Farming
Multi-Purpose Cooperatives
Family-Based Farming
Efigenio Lizares
Kin Based Block Farming
San Miguel
Family-Based Farming
La Castellana
People’s Organization
San Jose
Family-Based Farming
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 6
Data gathering was done through key informant interviews (KIIs), ocular survey, document
review and focus group discussions (FGDs). In each community, five focus group discussions
were conducted with different participants. The FGD participants included 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
processes of data gathering are discussed in the first volume of the report.
The report provides provincial, municipality, city and community profiles to serve as context of
the cases. The data for these profiles were culled from the WVDF In-Depth Baseline Study on
Child Labor in Sugarcane Farms (2012), except for those of Bago City, Talisay City and the
municipality of Matanao which were taken from the Socio-Economic Profile of the Planning and
Development Offices and the barangay profiles.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 7
Provincial Profile
Batangas is located in the south western
part of Luzon in the CALABARZON region
(Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and
Quezon), or more formally designated as
Region IV-A.
The province occupies a land area of
316,581 hectares (3,165.81 sq. km.),
comprising 18.8 percent of the region’s
land area. It is bounded by the province of
Cavite in the north, the provinces of
Laguna and Quezon in the northeast and
east, the West Philippine Sea in the west,
and the Verde Island Passages down
Source: Batangas Now website
The topography of Batangas consists of a rolling terrain with a combination of plains and
mountains as well as slopes found along the shores of the Verde Island Passages. The province’s
land area is graced by six mountains: Mt. Makulot (830 m. elevation), Mt. Manabo (830 m.), Mt.
Batulao (811 m.), Mt. Daguldol (672 m.), Mt. Talimatan (700 m.) and Mt. Pico de Loro (644 m.).
The world’s smallest volcano, Taal Volcano (600 m. elevation), is also found in Batangas.
The province of Batangas has three cities, 31 municipalities, and 1,078 barangays, divided under
four congressional districts. Based on the census data of May 2010, the total population of
Batangas is 2,377,395. There is no information on the number of households in the same year.
However, based on the 2007 data, there were about 461,408 households in the province.
Batangas is rich in natural resources. Fruit-bearing plants, green pastures and forests, rich
bodies of water with aquatic bounties, and other land mineral resources are abundant in the
Livelihood and agriculture
The main livelihood source in the province is agriculture. Livestock raising is also a major
economic activity of Batangueños. The Bakang Batangas (literally, the Batangas Cattle) is known
to be one of the best varieties of cattle in the country. Batangas towns like San Juan, Bauan, and
Padre Garcia still have weekly cattle auctions. The production of the fan knife, or locally called
balisong, is one of the most popular industries. Pineapples are also common in the province. Its
downstream industry is based around the fruit and the fabric processed from its leaves (jusi).
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 8
Fishing also plays a significant role in the province’s economy. Aside from salt-water fish species,
Taal Lake is also a major source of fresh water fish in the locality like tawilis, bangus, and tilapia.
It also has several industries as major sources of livelihood among its residents.
Sugar industry situation
The province is home to the Central Azucarera Don Pedro plantation, the largest producer and
refinery of sugar and other sugarcane products in the country. It is located in Nasugbu, the
municipality adjacent to Lian.
The warm climate of Batangas makes it suitable for growing sugarcane. A well-drained and
fertile land with adequate rainfall during the wet season is an ideal condition in planting the
crop. Sugarcane is planted using carefully chosen cane stalks which are laid, planted and buried
in soil horizontally.
It usually takes seven to eight months before it is ready for harvest. Harvest time starts in
December and ends in May. Harvesting is done manually in a traditional process locally known
as paggagapak (sugarcane cutting). The maggagapak (sugarcane cutter) prefers to burn the
plant during harvest time to make the cutting easier. However, according to most sugarcane
growers, burning the cane during harvest reduces the sugar content of the plant thus they
discourage it.
Aside from sugar, there are other end-products of sugarcane. Molasses is one. Bagasse, the
fibrous remains of the sugarcane, is used to power the required fuel to run the mill. It can also
be used to manufacture paper. Ethanol is also derived from the grass. It is 10 percent of the
gasoline called E-10. Sugarcane juice, which is said to be rich in carbohydrates and iron, is
another end-product. The production and sale of sugarcane juice is now a flourishing industry in
Barangay Santol, Tanauan.
In 2011, Batangas local government unit (LGU) committed to support initiatives of a provincial
farmers’ cooperative to increase sugar production in the province (Gonzaga, 2011). In January
2012, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA),
and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), launched a “sugarcane block farm” project
initially in the municipality of Tuy and eventually all over the province. Block farming is a system
where small farms of less than 10 hectares are consolidated and integrated through various
schemes such as contract, joint venture, partnership, and sharing. For block farms, a total area
ranging from 30 to 50 hectares is needed to attain economies of scale.
The sugarcane block farming project--in partnership with sugarcane farmers, sugar milling
districts and other sugar industry stakeholders--aims to sustain the production of sugar for both
food and biofuel feedstock.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 9
Local initiatives to reduce child labor
There were also moves to reduce and, eventually, eliminate child labor in sugarcane production.
Batangas was identified by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as one of the
areas where there is a high incidence of child labor (PIA, 2012).
In July 2012, Dao, a constituent barangay of the municipality of Tuy, passed a local resolution to
eliminate child labor in their community, along with child trafficking and illegal recruitment
(PIA, 2012). The local authorities pledged to stop child abuse and to become a role model in
the advocacy for a child labor-free barangay.
Unfortunately, the problem persists despite initiatives to halt child labor in the industry. Child
labor is prevalent in provinces with sugarcane plantations including Batangas (Estremera, 2012).
There are three case studies from the province of Batangas, one from the Municipality of
Nasugbu and two from the Municipality of Lian.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 10
As of 2010, Nasugbu has a total population of 122,483 total population and a land area of 27,
851 hectares (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2010) covering 42 barangays. The Central
Azucarera Don Pedro, (or “Central” as it is locally called), the largest sugar refinery in the
Philippines, is located in the municipality. The coastline location and large land area make it
natural to have agriculture, aquaculture and tourism as the main industries of Nasugbu.
In the corporate farming system, the sugar
farm management is done by a group of
people or corporation which is able to gain
or regain control of the land distributed to
land reform beneficiaries. The corporation
acquires land by buying the rights from the
farmer-beneficiaries or when the farmers
lease to them their lands. (It is said that
corporations offer attractive lease rates.)
The corporation then hires the owners of
these farmers and other workers to work on
the farm. This work arrangement is a form
of "corporate tenancy." Others call it
"corporatives," a hybrid of corporations and
cooperatives. The farms are run as a
corporation and often, they are already
linked to the sugar mills (i.e., the Central
Source: Wikipedia
Barangay Profile
Barangay Catandaan has a total land area of 514 hectares. It has a total population of 2,008 or
429 households; 357 of these residents are children.
The community’s principal economy is agriculture. Most of the lands in the barangay are arable
and irrigated. Majority of its residents are engaged in sugarcane and rice farming. The barangay
has farming and harvest facilities such as irrigation system, grain warehouse, but mostly these
are privately owned. Other sources of income are vegetable gardening and livestock raising.
Small business establishments such as sari-sari (variety) stores and sewing shops are widespread
in the community.
A major community problem in the barangay especially during the agricultural “off season”, is
the lack of alternative or secondary livelihood opportunities. This situation pushes the residents
to migrate to other places for work. The local government, together with the non government
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 11
organizations (NGOs) such as the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc. (SIFI) and the Roxas
Foundation, Inc., assists the barangay in dealing with its community problems, especially those
related to children’s education. These institutions provide scholarships and support day care
classes in the community.
The barangay has only one elementary school (Catandaan Elementary School), and a public high
school (Catandaan Yabut National High School). The total enrolees in these schools are 265 and
59, respectively.
Sugarcane and rice farming are the primary sources of income in the barangay. Some plant
fruits, vegetables and other root crops mostly on a subsistence farming land. Some also raise
livestock and engage in small enterprises such as sari-sari stores, fruit selling, construction work,
wet market vending and sewing shops.
Land distribution (EP/CLOA) data from the Municipal DAR shows that total land distributed as of
2012 is 86.31 hectares.
Land Reform Experience
The key leader of the cooperative, Damayan ng Magsasaka ng Batangas (DAMBA) described the
process of land reform implementation in the area.
On Oct. 30, 1993, a CLOA of 513 hectares was issued. By this time, people had started occupying
the land for six months. They refer to this as “kampuhan” (to establish camps). They began to till
the land to make it productive.
However, it was later found out that103 hectares in the CLOA was, technically, not included
because the document for these lands lacked an important signature or stamp to indicate
approval for distribution. Thus this portion of the land had to be given back to the government.
Later, he said the land was converted from an agricultural land to a residential subdivision (Palm
State Subdivision).
In 1994, DAMBA had about 154 members. PIRUSS, another organization allegedly led by several
men whose initials spell PIRUSS, had interest in claiming a large area of land. It was believed that
the men behind PIRUSS were working for ROXACO, the corporation owning the milling plant.
ROXACO was also owned by families related to owners of Hacienda Roxas y Cia, the former
hacienda covering Catandaan. PIRUSS was successful in instigating 53 DAMBA members to join
PIRUSS. After PIRUSS managed the 104 hectares from the 513 hectares, it allowed the 53
DAMBA members who bolted from the cooperatives to farm this land. PIRUSS promised them
farm inputs.
In 1996, around 28.4 hectares of the 104 hectares managed by PIRUSS were entrusted to a
woman local government official whom they called Kapitana for the sugarcane production. The
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 12
agreement was equal sharing of expenses and income. Eventually, it was Kapitana who
shouldered the expenses from land preparation, planting, harvesting and hauling of sugarcane
to the Central Asucarera. The PIRUSS-identified people who took charge of the milling allegedly
did not share the expenses and income to Kapitana, who on the other hand, could not file a
formal complain because the practice was prohibited by the agrarian reform law. This
information was shared by Kapitana and was validated from the DAMBA officers.
A DAMBA leader said that ROXACO is now undertaking massive conversion of agricultural land
to commercial or residential lands. He also clarified that the current DAMBA members and
officials are against the involvement of Kapitana with PIRUSS. In fact, they filed a legal
complaints at the DAR office asking that the 28.4 hectares managed by Kapitana be
redistributed to their members who have less than three hectares of land to farm.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Both boy and girl children from ARB and non-ARB families work on sugarcane farms in the
barangay, although there are more boys than girls. Their ages usually range from 10 to 15 years
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Children do a variety of tasks in sugarcane farms from clearing the land and weeding to
harvesting and bundling the sugarcanes for loading on the trucks. Weeding was regarded as the
easiest task, i.e., something that young children can do. On the other hand, children and adults
alike stated that children were not engaged in the following tasks: tilling and plowing the field,
applying pesticides, weighing and loading the sugarcane, and delivering the sugarcane to the
mills. No gender division of task was specified in the data collected.
The children’s wages varied depending on the task they accomplished; factors such as the time
they spent working and their output (e.g., bundles of cane tied together) were also considered
depending on the work arrangement. The usual arrangement is they get paid on a daily basis.
Others however work with their parents under a pakyawan arrangement where people or
groups are paid according to their output, regardless of time spent on the field.
On the average, children earn PhP150 to 170 per day. It was also noted that the payment rates
are the same for children and adult workers. For weeding, the most common task given to
children, they were paid PhP120 per day, and depending on the landowner, were also given
snacks while working. The lowest amount reported was PhP5 to 10 for preparing meals for the
workers. The highest paid tasks for children – which were also the heaviest – were cutting down
sugarcane and manual loading of sugarcane bundles on the truck. These tasks were paid PhP250
to 300 per ton. It is often the older children who are engaged in these tasks.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 13
Children’s Education
The value placed by both children and adults on education are high, viewing it as a means to
improve their economic status. Parents encouraged their children to do well in school, and as
much as possible did not let them work on days when there are classes.
Both children and adults also acknowledge that it is difficult for children to study when they are
also engaged in farm labor. Absences in class, low grades, cheating and dropping out of school
were some of the problems identified in this regard. The children interviewed readily pointed to
the cycle of poverty as the cause of these problems: they had to work to help out their families
but because they are working they cannot concentrate on their studies. Because of their poor
grades and financial constraints, most of them will finish high school at most. This in turn limits
their options for pursuing other employment. They are likely to become farmers or farm
workers as their parents, and pass on their poverty to their children who will also become a
child laborer like them. The experience of adults who have been child laborers in their younger
years affirmed this cycle.
The boys, in particular, were more likely to be out of school than the girls i.e., there is a higher
incidence of absences from class and dropping out among them as reported by the
stakeholders. Girls also performed better in school than boys even if they are also child
laborers. Adults who had been child laborers themselves opined that this may be due to the
heavier tasks done by boys than girls in the field which leaves them tired to go to school.
On the other hand, adults also identified positive effects of working in the fields at a young age:
apart from the contributions of children to the family budget, the children learned to value hard
work, and it acts as a motivation to do well in school, a kind of negative reinforcement as one
parent said children will study harder because they do not want to farm anymore (“Magsisikap
sila pag nakita nilang mahirap sa tubuhan.”).
Children’s Health
According to the child respondents, the hazards from working in sugarcane farms include death,
injuries, falling from ladder while loading, fainting, stunting, fatigue, lack of appetite, hernia,
“lintog” (blister), headache, and body aches. Usual remedies to these health problems included
self-medication, rest, “hilot” (traditional massage), alternative and traditional medicine and
treatments. For serious injuries, some seek help from public hospital using their parents’
Philhealth, if they have it. Needless to say, these injuries incur cost which the child laborers and
their families would rather spend for food.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 14
Other information
The children in sugarcane farms have dreams for themselves. When asked about what they
wanted to be when they grow up, the boys said they wanted to be chef, accountant, computer
engineer, seaman, police, engineer, and architect.
The girls, instead of enumerating courses they wanted to finish, expressed a more general set of
aspirations related to their future and character: to finish schooling, to help their parents, to
have a better future, to have a good job, to study well, to listen to and obey parents, to be
responsible, and to have self-discipline. They believed that they will be able to get out of poverty
with the guidance of their parents.
All the children agreed that they have to finish college to be able to achieve their dreams. They
also believed that they will finish college despite being child laborers in sugarcane farms.
Impact of land reform on child labor
The CARP did not make any significant impact on the farmers' lives, according to the ARBs
interviewed, as they are still poor. Although it is a source of pride that they finally had a land of
their own, the reality of making a small parcel of land productive amidst the inadequate
financial and technical support needed by the ARBs was less than ideal. Small-scale farming can
turn out to be more costly with regard to the expenses and returns from it compared to larger
sized farms. Thus, waiving their control over their lands in favor of working for corporations, in
addition to profit-sharing arrangements, becomes an attractive option for the ARBs.
In this sense, little was essentially changed from the landowning system prior to the CARP.
While the official documents show that the ARBs are the owners of the land, their lands are
under the control and management of corporations and they were relegated to de facto
tenancy status.
For the ARBs who have the capacity to pay the amortization of their lands, they also criticized
some of the DAR’s procedures: the ARBs preferred that the payments be made on an individual
basis rather than on a group basis which is the current mode. This was because all the members
of the group can be penalized even if only one of them defaulted in the payment. When this
happens, ARBs are setback from becoming full owners of their lands, and in the worst scenario,
may never be.
Thus, child labor in sugarcane farms remained essentially the same. Almost two decades since
land reform was implemented in their barangay, children of ARBs have yet to experience a
tangible and sustained change in their situation. As it were, their experiences still parallel those
of non-ARB children, and even the experience of adults who had been child laborers before the
land reform took effect.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 15
Lian is one of the 31 municipalities of the
province of Batangas. It is also one of the
eight constituent municipalities of the
province’s 1st congressional district.
According to Department of Social
Welfare and Development (DSWD)
Municipal Social Welfare Officer Valentina
E. delos Reyes, it has 40,415 residents, a
child population of 6,510, and 1,304 outof-school youth (OSY).
As far as education in the municipality is
concerned, there are programs and
support services provided by the existing
Source: Wikipedia
Local School Board (LSB) to increase
access to quality and relevant education. The LSB is responsible for the allocation of public
school funds, the alternative learning system (ALS) programs, and educational infrastructure.
The municipality also has a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) center located in
Lian Central School. The center offers courses in Computer Hardware Servicing, Massage
Therapy, as well as Food and Beverage Services. The provincial government and the Sugar
Industry Foundation Inc. (SIFI) also assist the municipal training centers by providing equipment
and conducting training programs, respectively.
Lian has a municipal hall, a leisure park, a public market, an elementary school, a sports center,
a private hospital, a community learning center, a high school, a health center, a church, and a
post office.
Like most of the municipalities in Batangas, agriculture is the backbone of Lian’s economy. The
main economic activity in the area is sugarcane farming, followed by fishing, and skilled work in
adjacent provinces. According to the Municipal Social Welfare Officer, the major community
problems in Lian include the lack of job opportunities, political/government-related factions,
and poverty/low income. The lack of stable income has led others, mostly the sacadas (migrant
sugarcane workers), to migrate to adjacent towns and provinces to look for livelihood
opportunities in fishing, domestic work, manufacturing, and construction work. The top three
problems confronting child labor in the sugarcane industry are the increasing number of out-ofschool youths (OSY), early marriages, and vices.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 16
Although there are programs already being implemented to address the locality’s child related
issues (including a municipal system to record and monitor child laborers), much is still needed
to be done. The municipality of Lian has yet to establish a Municipal Council for the Protection
of Children (MCPC), as well as adopt an action plan and enact a local legislation to eliminate
child labor in the sugarcane industry.
In family-based farming, the ARBs and their families manage and directly work on their land,
hiring additional laborers only when needed. Small-scale farming has its challenges, and in some
cases it is not a viable undertaking because cost (capital and labor) outweigh the benefits. If the
ARB has capital, she or he can also lease lands of other small farmers so as to increase their farm
size and make it a more viable source of income.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Kapito is one of the 19 barangays of the Municipality of Lian. It is a rural community
situated five kilometers away from the town proper. It has a land area of 6,349.73 sq.m.
covering six puroks and 11 sitios. Its current population is 2,972 or 601 households; 1,102 of
these residents are children while 89 are out of school youth. Infrastructure in the barangay
include a barangay hall, an elementary school (Kapito Elementary School), a high school (Lian
National High School), a clinic, a day care center, and a church.
Kapito Elementary School has seven teachers. Its facilities include seven classrooms, science
laboratory equipment, a sound system, a television, and a DVD player. The school needs
building repairs, new classrooms, supplemental learning materials, and trainings for teachers.
Agriculture is the pillar of Kapito’s economy: 80 percent of the residents are engaged in the
sugar industry; 10 percent in the rice industry; and 10 percent for other livelihood activities such
as livestock raising and fruit production (mangoes).
The community problems expressed by Local Government Unit (LGU) officials are poverty
resulting to forced child labor, lack of cooperation and participation among its residents, and
issues related to peace and order. The lack of stable income caused some people to migrate to
adjacent towns and provinces to look for better livelihood opportunities in the fields of
agriculture, construction work, domestic work (for women), and manufacturing.
There are presently no organizations or service providers in the community dealing with the
above community problems, especially child labor in the sugarcane industry apart from
government agencies. Although a Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) has
been established, more remains to be done to eliminate child labor (e.g., ordinances). Local
community initiatives on children and youth focus on sports and school programs. There are
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 17
also agencies and organizations providing for social protection, specifically for education and
health, such as the DSWD’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program or locally referred as the
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the PhilHealth’s medical assistance program, and
the Senior Citizens’ Association which provides services for the elderly.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
It is an acceptable practice to have children working on farms in the community as people
generally believe that farm work is an opportunity for children to learn a trade and help the
family. Although there are no official data on the number of child farm workers in Brgy. Kapito,
it can be assumed that many children have been engaged as farm worker at one point or
another on their family’s lands or another person’s, regardless whether they have received
payment for it or not (i.e., children are not usually paid by their parents for their work on family
farms). However, adults stated that children’s work should not be at the expense of their
Children begin to participate in farm work as early as 10 years old. The average age is 10 to 15
years old, both for boy and girl children. There are more boys than girls who work on sugar cane
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
The children’s tasks depend on their age and abilities, with younger children engaged in light
work such as clearing and weeding while the older ones can help in loading the sugarcanes on
trucks. Children however are not engaged in tasks such as tilling and canal trashing, applying
pesticides, and delivering the harvested sugarcanes to the mills.
Payment for their work can be on a daily basis or by output. For instance, cleaning and weeding
the fields, which are the “easiest” tasks usually given to younger children, they are paid PhP50
per day. A heavier work such as manual loading of canes on trucks is paid PhP250 per day plus
meals. However tasks like preparation of cane points for planting are paid on an output-basis.
The children are paid PhP1,000 for every 10,000 cane points. This task is done by several
children who divide the payment among them.
It was interesting to note that responses on children’s payment sometimes differ across the
groups interviewed. For example, while children recalled that they were paid PhP50 per day for
cleaning and weeding the fields, their parents and other adults said the children were paid
PhP200 plus snacks. There are also other tasks assigned to children in the fields but for which
they receive no payment except food (snacks). These are running errands for the adults and
preparation of the workers’ meals. Children are also not usually paid for the work they do on
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 18
their family’s farm, although the parents sometimes would give them money to spend. The
children would often use this money for baon or to purchase supplies needed for school.
Children’s Education
Attendance in school is affected by sugarcane farm work. While some adults maintain that
children work only when there are no classes, there were also people who said children work
even on weekdays. Children sometimes serve as substitute workers of their parents or older
family members who got sick. Children also help out during harvest time so their families would
be able to meet the schedule enforced by “Central,” i.e., the Central Azucarera Don Pedro.
Harvest time is around February to March, which is also the last two months of the school year.
Another reason why child laborers are prone to absences in school is when they get sick because
of their work.
But even if the children are able to go to school, some reported that they were not able to
participate as much as they should because of fatigue from work. 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 in the class. They also said that giving some gifts to teachers also encouraged
leniency from the teacher (“may padala sa teacher”).
Some respondents believed that it is difficult to get children to stay in school once they started
earning an income that is, children would prefer to have money than go to school. Some finish
high school but after that they also go back to sugarcane farming for lack of employment
opportunities. Some who finish high school find employment in factories in Cavite, an adjacent
province. In this case, they also believed that the parents have a great influence over the child's
attitude towards education ("depende sa magulang yan").
The general sentiment was that the children serve as an added human resource that allows their
parents to cover more sugarcane land to work on. Their assistance allowed their parents to
finish faster and make up for them when they get ill. Due to the perceived trend that most can
only finish high school and those who do still go back to sugarcane farming, the incentive to
attend school diminishes. It seems they are trapped in the poverty cycle. They need to increase
family income so they can afford going to school, and so they work in the farm. But in the
process, their schooling suffers.
Children’s Health
All of the people interviewed are in agreement with regard to health issues suffered by children
engaged in farm work. Children suffer from injuries, mild sickness, and fatigue. The usual
remedy is rest and alternative or indigenous medicines and treatments (albolaryo). Snake bites
can also happen but so far there have been no incidents yet involving children. However should
there be one they said they would go to a local healer (manunupsup) who would suck the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 19
venom from the snake bite wound using his mouth. The only health facility in the community is
the barangay health center, but it can only provide first aid and at best. Any situation referring
to more than this has to be brought to the hospital in Lipa which is several hours away by
motorized vehicle.
Child laborers were observed to be underweight and stunted but respondents cannot attribute
these solely to working in the farm as other children who are not involved in sugarcane planting
appear to be underweight and stunted also.
According to the children, farm work has affected their health. Some suffer from asthma,
“pilay,” cuts, fatigue, callous hands and fingers (lintog or kalyong may tubig), burns, and hunger.
None of them went to the Barangay Health Worker (BHW) for treatment of these. The children
also did not know if their weight is within normal ranges or if they are underweight.
The former child workers recalled that while working, it seemed they did not run out of energy.
They would continue working until they finished the job. But they also had health issues. They
felt sick, fell from ladder while loading on the truck, fell from coconut tree while picking coconut
to relieve thirst, had epileptic shock, and got electrocuted by a live wire for lighting the farm
during the night. As a remedy, they would rest, apply penicillin, or drink a traditional infusion of
guava leaves.
Child laborers also find time to play and some consider their work in the farm as play at times.
They enjoy working with their friends and eating snacks provided for farm workers.
Other information
The children shared their aspirations with enthusiasm. They wanted to become engineers,
seafarers, police officers, veterinarians, and teachers. Some said that their dream is to be able to
help their family. They all agreed that they have to study well to make their dreams a reality.
Impact of land reform on child labor
Having their own land gave ARBs an additional resource which they can use during difficult
times, something which they can exchange for “quick and easy” money. Many ARBs found it
difficult to make their lands productive because they lack the capital needed to develop them.
Prior to land reform, they were able to borrow from their landlords money to purchase farm
inputs, but also money to supplement their meager family budget during lean periods. This
relationship was discontinued after they were granted their own lands to manage.
Leasing out their lands to other farmers then working for them as hired labor is not uncommon
among ARBs. The ARBs can also negotiate profit or crop-sharing arrangements with the lessor.
The usual arrangements are the “buwisan” and the fixed systems. In the buwisan system there is
a 75-25 sharing of crops in favor of the lessor, with farm expenses shouldered equally between
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 20
the ARB and the lessor; in the fixed system, the ARB and the lessor also divide the expenses
equally between them, however, regardless of the harvest output, the ARB is given a fixed
share, for instance, one sack of sugar for every hectare. This arrangement in a way also secures
ARBs from risks such as bad harvest seasons and price fluctuations, yet their compensation may
still not be enough for their household’s needs.
This picture shows the continued income insecurity among ARBs. Although they may be better
off with regard to landownership than non-ARBs, the difference may not be so substantial in the
long run given many factors including lack of capital and technical support for those who want
to manage their farms themselves. At the most tangible, the child workers themselves, whether
from ARB or non-ARB households, could not confidently say that they would be able to
complete their education, only that they would strive to do so, ironically, with the help of their
income from working on sugarcane farms. On land reform and the incidence of child labor, one
adult respondent observed that if child labor in sugarcane farms is on a decline, it would be
likely because of the influx of dayo or sakadas (migrant sugarcane workers), rather than socioeconomic changes brought about by CARP implementation.
Block farming is one of the projects being implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform
(DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). This
project aims to improve the productivity of sugarcane farms of ARBs through the agrarian
reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) who manages the entire sugarcane production
process from land preparation to marketing of sugar. For this case, the Prenza Multipurpose
Cooperatives Inc. (Prenza-MPCI) served as the ARBO. The ARBs can opt to work as hired laborers
on their own farm for wages. The net proceeds of the production is divided between the
cooperatives and the ARBs at 60:40 distribution in favor of the cooperatives.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Prenza is the second largest barangay in the municipality of Lian in terms of land size.
It has 761,208.31 hectares covering both residential and agricultural areas. The agricultural area
is about 695 hectares. The barangay has a population of 4,317 residing in its nine sitios.
The existing infrastructure in the barangay include a barangay hall, an elementary school clinic,
three day care centers, and a health center. The Prenza Elementary School has 12 teachers. Its
facilities include 14 classrooms, a computer room, a library, science laboratory equipment, and a
sound system. The school needs supplemental learning materials for the children.
Like most barangays in Batangas, the economy of Prenza is primarily based on agriculture. The
main sources of income of the residents are sugarcane, rice, and vegetable farming. Child labor
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 21
is a major community problem. Those who are compelled to work eventually lose interest in
school in favor of earning an income. The lack of stable income has led others to migrate to
Manila for employment in factories.
Land Reform Experience
Some of the ARBs in Brgy. Prenza are members of the Prenza-MPCI which facilitated their
access to support programs soon after they were awarded their lands. This was important
because it secured them against the common problem among new ARBs, that is, the lack of
capital and technical assistance so they can develop their small farms to viable levels. The farm
sizes awarded to the ARBs range from 0.30 to 2 hectares. Instead of family-based farming, the
ARB members of the cooperatives and other small farmers were clustered into a 31.90 hectare
block farming group. This was then applied for support under a government convergence
project, the Sugarcane Block Farm Project, in 2012.
The Sugarcane Block Farm Project is being implemented under the Agrarian Reform Community
Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) and the Sugarcane Convergence of DAR,
DA, and SRA, with an end goal of improving the productivity of sugarcane farms by the ARBO. In
this case, the ARBs did not organize themselves as a separate group, rather the Prenza-MPCI
stood as their conduit.
Under the Sugarcane Block Farming Project, the Prenza ARBs were coached and guided on farm
management for at least two cropping seasons. The ARBs who are block farm enrolees retain
ownership of their lands but their farm lands are managed by the cooperatives. Management of
the farm is done through a coordinator assigned by the cooperatives who, in turn, hires workers
for sugarcane farm production. The ARBs can be hired as farm hands with due compensation.
One of the objectives of the block farm project is to introduce better and cost-efficient
sugarcane farming practices--land preparation, planting, application of fertilizer, weeding and
harvesting--so that they will achieve the ‘economies of scale’. In the Prenza-MPCI Block Farm,
the financing scheme is through a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) which the
Prenza-MPCI pays at a prime rate interest of 9 to 10 percent per annum.
Meanwhile, Block Farm enrolees go through a profit-sharing scheme with the cooperative that is
stipulated in a contract. Generating a production baseline for three consecutive cropping
seasons, which becomes baseline for computation of net production, sharing between the
cooperative and the ARB is 60 percent for the former and 40 percent for the latter. For those
with no baseline data, the cooperative gets a 10 percent share from the proceeds of net
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 22
Some Issues in Block Farming
According to the officers of the cooperatives, the program was attractive during its inception
because of the support services provided by DAR in terms of the needed equipment and
machineries like tractor and dump truck.
However, in the course of project implementation, a number of problems came up. Block farm
enrolees tended to be resistant to new technologies. They have been very critical on the several
farm inputs being applied in the production processes such procurement of seedlings, proper
and timely application of fertilizers, labor inputs, payment for tractor operators and dump truck
drivers. They expressed that these are additional expenses. They refused to recognize that these
inputs contributed to the increase in yield of sugarcane production. Another insight given by an
officer was that the program taught the farmers to be lazy because the cooperatives does all the
work for them. Before the program, the farmers were conscientious and hard-working in tilling
their farm. But now, they just wait for their share of the profit. Moreover, the officers claimed
that the cooperatives is in the losing end because the farm inputs are lent to the farmers
without interest but the cooperatives pays interest to Land Bank.
The Prenza-MPCI officers are faced with the problem on how to fight for their rights. This has
been brought to the attention of the SRA, but the agency could not provide a direct solution to
the problem. They accepted the program because of the dump truck and tractor provided by
DAR. Production increased with increased farm input; however, the capital was loaned from the
bank with interest and lent to the enrolees without interest. It therefore puts the cooperatives
at the losing end. Before block farming, the ARBs acquired capital for their farm inputs from the
cooperatives at lending rates, thus raising their capital build-up and income of the cooperative.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
It was reported that there is a low incidence of children’s engagement in the farm in Prenza
because of the high level of awareness of people on the law that prohibits child labor. But this
may not be attributed to the block farming program alone.
As much as possible, Prenza-MPCI does not encourage children’s involvement because of the
law, aside from the fact that children are not quite serious about work but rather play in the
field. In this sense, their engagement is not cost-effective. To counter this problem, the
cooperatives has a scholarship program intended for non-ARBs’ children. They are provided with
school supplies and other school needs. But, with or without the block farm project, these
children could not be stopped from working because their parents have no farm of their own
and they need to help in their family’s daily needs.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 23
However, there are still child laborers in the sugarcane farms. They are mostly male, OSY, with
ages ranging 15-17 years. They are usually children of sakada farmers or regular farm workers
who are non-beneficiaries of land reform. According to them, they work on their own volition
because they want to contribute to the family income. The children give most of their earnings
to their parents.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Children working in sugarcane fields usually do so in groups of 10, with an identified leader who
coordinates their work. The tasks include soaking cane points (pagbububod); preparing planting
materials called “cane tops or points (pagsisilid ng taad);sowing sugarcane; piling sugarcane
(pagpapatas or pagtatambak ng tubo); and preparing meals for farm workers. They work from
7:00 to 11:00 a.m. and again from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. For the lighter work of weeding, preparation
of cane tops or points, cutting down sugarcane, peeling sugarcane leaves or preparing meals for
the farm workers, the children are paid PhP200 per day.
Asked what they feel or think about their work, the children gave the following responses:
 Happy because they were able to help their parents (masaya, dahil nakakatulong sa
 Learned how to work (natututong magtrabaho)
 Makes good use of his/her time when there are no classes (hindi nakatambay lang sa
bahay kung walang pasok)
 Exhausted (nakakapagod)
Furthermore they shared that if they had a choice, they would not be working in the fields
because it is a physically demanding work.
Children’s Education
Prenza has an elementary school but no high school. They go to the town for high school. At the
elementary school however, they have a feeding program for children to prevent malnutrition.
The principal could not state any difference in the status of children before and after land
reform. She mentioned, however, that there is close monitoring of children working in the farm,
although there are only a few of them and they usually work when there are no classes. This is
confirmed by the guidance counselor interviewed. He also added that even though these
children work on the farms, they were able to keep up with their schooling.
For the ARB parents, on the other hand, one concrete change that the land reform has done was
they felt their children have better chances to complete their education now than when land
reform was not yet implemented.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 24
Children’s Health
Children have experienced injuries from working in the field which include wounds, punctures
and scratches. Working under the intense heat of the sun was also identified as a health
concern. They reported having dizzy spells and headaches because of this. When this happens,
they would stop and find a shade to rest, then go back to work when they already felt better.
Regarding the health facilities and services for children, the community is visited by health
personnel once in a while. When the Rural Health Unit (RHU) nurse was interviewed, she said
that there have been no child health cases related to their working in the sugarcane fields
brought to their attention for a while, and that the RHU has no specific program for child
laborers. The former is not surprising because child laborers and their parents said they only
consult health professionals when they have serious injuries or illness.
Impact of land reform on child labor
The impact of land reform on child labor is through two ways: first, because the ARBs are
members of the Prenza-MPCI which is conscious about the law against hiring children, ARB
parents are discouraged to let their children work; and second, there are incremental changes in
the economic status of ARB families that lessen the risk of children working in fields because
they need to. The Prenza-MPCI also manages a scholarship program for the children of ARBs
which is a good deterrent against child labor.
However, there remains the challenge of addressing child labor among non-ARB families who do
not enjoy the same access to resources as ARBs. Although the child laborers from this group
said they work on their volition and not because they were told so by their parents, their
poverty blurs the line between what is truly voluntary and what the children, out of their sense
of responsibility, are compelled to do.
Other Effects of Land Reform
When asked about the effects of block farming in children’s engagement in farm work, the
Prenza-MPCI officers said that children work in the farm because of the family’s need to
augment their income, with or without block farming. But this is somehow minimized in block
farming because the cooperative would rather hire adults instead of children, who tend to play
in the field.
The most evident effect of being ARBs is the sense of pride and security coming from owning an
important survival asset in their life--the farm. At some point, they were able to acquire assets
like household appliances, cell phones, or even improve or build homes. While still considering
themselves poor, they now have more capability to meet their daily needs, as well as to send
their children to school.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 25
Provincial Profile
Negros Oriental is part of the Negros
Island, the third largest island in the
Philippines. While Negros Occidental
belongs to Region 6 (Western Visayas),
Negros Oriental is in Region 7 together
with Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor (Central
Visayas). This boot-shaped province lies on
the other side of Negros Occidental. It has
20 municipalities and five cities which are
grouped into three congressional districts.
There are 557 barangays in Negros
Oriental. The province is generally
composed of a Cebuano-speaking
population. Its capital, Dumaguete City, is
known as a University town.
The total land area of Negros Oriental is 540,230 hectares or more than 5,400 square
kilometers. The largest city is Bayawan City (about 638 sq. km.) while the largest municipality is
Sta. Catalina (about 523 sq. km.). The other five main municipalities in the province are
Dumaguete City, Tanjay City, Bais City, Canlaon City, and Guihulngan.
The province is characterized by low mountain ranges, with most parts close to the shoreline.
The highest mountain is Kanlaon Volcano, an active volcano separating Negros Oriental from
Negros Occidental.
As of 2010, Negros Oriental’s total population is at 1,286,666. The average household size is six.
The major industry of Negros Oriental is agriculture with sugarcane as the main crop. The sugar
industry in the province dates back to the Spanish colonial times. Central Azucarera de Bais was
established in the 1900s, and is one of the oldest sugar mills in the country. There are three
privately owned sugar mills in the province located in Bais City, Manjulok and Sta. Catalina.
Aside from sugarcane production and fishing, the third major economic pillar of Negros is
mining – an extractive industry as old as sugarcane production. The south western Negros
mineral belt covers three municipalities in Negros Occidental and the municipalities of Basay
and Bayawan in Negros Oriental. There are 81 mining claims in Negros Oriental, covering more
than 69,000 hectares. There are pending mining applications covering additional areas.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 26
Tanjay City is a fourth class city in the
According to the 2010 census, it has a
population of 79,098 people.
Tanjay's land area is 27,605 hectares
(68,210 acres) and is utilized for
agricultural, residential, commercial,
industrial, educational, forestral and
other purposes. It is the only city in
Negros Oriental with a very wide flat
lowland, although mountainous and
rolling hills are found in the hinterland
barangays of Sto. Niño and Pal-ew.
Source: Wikipedia
In cooperatives farming, the farmers lease their lands to cooperatives (where they are
members) which in turn consolidate their farm with other ARBs and small-scale farmers. This
larger farm is managed by the cooperative. The ARBs can opt to work as hired laborers on this
farm for wages. In some cases, this arrangement is the better option for the ARBs whose
landholdings are deemed too small to be productive and tended to be more capital and labor
intensive relative to larger farms. The ARBs also receive dividends from the profits earned by
their cooperative, including those from consolidated farming, at the end of the year.
In family-based farming, the ARBs and their families manage and directly work on their land,
hiring additional laborers only when needed. Small-scale farming has its challenges, and in some
cases it is not a viable undertaking because cost (capital and labor) outweigh the benefits. If the
ARB has capital, she or he can also lease lands of other small farmers so as to increase their farm
size and make it a more viable source of income.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 27
Land Reform Experience
There are several sugarcane haciendas in Tanjay such as the Del Prado, Ledesma, Carballo,
Martinez, Mapa, Villlegas, and Espina haciendas. About 80 percent of the big haciendas were
covered by compulsory acquisition of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
while few, such as Hacienda Mapa, Prado, Ledesma and Maple, opted for voluntary offer to sell
(VOS). To date, some of the Certificates of Land Ownership and Award (CLOA) for the
redistribution of these lands is yet to be released to the beneficiaries.
Hacienda Maple straddles two barangays—Sta. Cruz Viejo and Sta. Cruz Nuevo. Land reform on
the hacienda was through compulsory acquisition and in 1996, the CLOAs were distributed to
154 families. The regular workers, prioritized by the landowners, got more than 100 hectares for
94 families in Sta. Cruz Viejo. The other workers (many of whom struggled against the
landowners) were given 60 hectares for 48 families in Brgy. Sta. Cruz Nuevo.
Land reform in the barangay, and in the municipality in general, faced many challenges. One of
these was the identification of ARBs, which in some cases, people claimed were biased for
relatives of overseers or farmers favored by the landowners.
Second, the available government support system for ARBs has been inadequate. Part of the
requirement for land distribution was to organize an ARB organization (ARBO) that would help
the farmers manage the farms. However, most of ARBOs eventually became inactive for various
reasons. The distributed CLOA should not be sold or leased out but there were reported cases
that these were done informally because the ARBs did not have enough capital to make the
lands productive. Many of the ARBs re-sold or leased their lands back to the original
From 1996 to 2005 the landowner managed the farms while the workers continued to be waged
workers. The farmers were also promised a profit sharing arrangement but this never happened.
The Negros Oriental Center for People’s Empowerment and Development (NOCPED) assisted
the farmers in capacity-building activities and mobilizations that demanded the strict
implementation of land reform. The landowners did not like what was happening and
threatened some of the farmer-leaders. The cooperative was organized in 1995. The
cooperative attended dialogues, joined marches and protests, and became a member of
national federation of sugar workers. In 2006, the cooperative members started working and
securing their livelihoods on the land supposedly to be distributed to them even without
documents of formal ownership (“self-installation”).
The cooperatives now own tractors used in the fields and trucks used for hauling the harvest to
the mill. The cooperatives also have the funds now to pay salaries to its staff. This was a positive
development from the earlier years when cooperatives officials and staff did not get any salary,
but instead worked on a voluntary basis. Later, the cooperatives gave salaries of PhP160/day if
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 28
they worked in the farm or PhP170 if they worked at the cooperatives. However, the members
rotated with the work required so they only earned an average of PhP3,000 per month.
In 2012, the members started receiving dividends from the sugarcane farming and their
consumers cooperatives; that year, each member got PhP12,000 each.
The cooperatives also plans to inquire about Technical Education and Skills Development
Authority (TESDA) trainings to provide new opportunities for young adults.
The non-ARBs who attended the FGD were either those who were not awarded by the CLOA
because they were not the priority beneficiaries or were children of ARBs who have their own
families now. Some CLOA holders were awarded the residential areas and thus have no farms.
The non-ARBs also built their homes there. The non-ARBs are now hired workers in small farms.
DSWD implements national programs such as 4Ps, day care and feeding for zero to five year
olds, but has no specific focus for sugarcane child workers. Most of the children are in school
even if there are some reported child workers in the sugarcane farms. The DSWD 4Ps program
helps in the retention rate as there are strict rules and monitoring.
DA provides technical assistance and distributes seeds for planting such as corn.
The Public Employment Service Office (PESO) provides skills trainings that target poor families to
enable them to find employment. Some cases of trafficking are referred to them for skills and
employment support.
DA assists farmers in organizing associations and cooperatives. It also provides technical training
to improve agricultural productions. The mayor allocated PhP600,000 for DA to provide
trainings but it still lacks in technicians. Life in Negros Oriental is difficult because of
unemployment or low income while inflation increases the cost of living. DA is introducing
organic farming as part of the island wide campaign to make Negros Island an organic vegetable
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Child labor is still prevalent in the barangay despite initiatives of cooperatives not to hire them
on their managed farms. The figures vary but the ARBs interviewed estimated that around 2,000
children are employed in sugarcane farms in the community. They are usually children of
landless families and are compelled to work to augment the meager household income. Children
often start to work at 12 years old. Many of them eventually drop out of school and in
adulthood find employment as construction workers, drivers and domestic workers if they are
not agricultural laborers.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 29
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Most of the ARBs shared their experiences as child workers in the 1960s and 70s. As young
children, their parents would bring them to the fields to weed. They were given bigger tasks
such as ploughing, planting, harvesting and carrying as they got older. They also took care of
farm animals. They were paid meager salaries for the hard, difficult work.
The non-ARBs were also child workers before; now, it is their children who work with them in
small farms. The children are aged 10 to 17, usually from grade five to fourth year high school.
They work on weekends for about six hours and earn PhP160 to 220 per day for weeding and
planting. The parents said that some children decide for themselves if they want to work while
others are told by their parents. Some work at the cooperative, at the mill, or in canal
There is little information on child laborers in the community because most of them lived in
remote areas uphill. Below are the experiences of two young workers about being child
A 17-year old young adult shared that his father studied but did not complete high school,
while his mother reached college level. He has three siblings. His father is a non-ARB so he
also works to help the family.
He started working when he was 14 years old and was paid PhP250 per day for weeding. He
worked on weekends from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00p.m. but also sometimes missed classes on
weekdays because of work. He stopped for a year when he was 16 years old but is now back
in school. He works in the farm on some days doing weeding, planting, spraying fertilizer,
harvesting, and loading sugarcanes. In some days, he hauls cargo at the cooperative. His
earnings support the family and sometimes he give his siblings money as well.
He had some minor accidents while at work such as cuts from the sugarcane or wounds from
stones when he does canal construction. It seemed normal to have fever and muscle pains in
his work. During the interview, he showed his swollen foot which made walking difficult. His
body build is also small and thin for his age.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 30
The 21-year old interviewee started working when he was 14 years old. He stopped schooling
when he was 17 years old because his father got sick and he had three younger siblings to
support. They were five children in the family but the second eldest already dropped out
when he was Grade 2.
The interviewee moved to Cebu when he was 17 years old to work in construction projects.
He gave his earnings to his parents to help support the family. His father is now a guard at
the cooperative and he sometimes works at the cooperative as well in hauling goods.
He wants to go back to school but he could not do so because his income is needed by his
Children’s Education
Absences from classes and dropping out of school have been decreased in the municipality of
Tanjay since the 4Ps was implemented. There are around 1,898 families enrolled in the 4Ps
which strictly monitors children’s school attendance as part of the conditions attached to the
cash grant received. While there are still children dropping out, this was mainly due to their
disinterest to pursue their studies for various reasons and not necessarily related to poverty.
Frequent absences were still also noted during harvest season when children would help their
parents or work for a wage in other people’s farms.
Barangays of Sta. Cruz Nuevo and Sta. Cruz Viejo have 100 and 300 families covered by the
national conditional cash transfer program, respectively.
Children’s Health
There were no major health concerns reported among children in the barangay, including
children who work in the sugarcane farms. The usual cases brought to the barangay health
center include coughs, colds, fevers, sore eyes, skin rashes, tooth aches, and diarrhea. There
were cases of malnutrition due to lack of food, poor diet, lack of information, and children’s
preferences. There were a few child mortality cases due to pneumonia. Most mothers gave birth
at home.
The parents shared that cough is common among children and adults because they live near the
milling, which regularly emits smoke and dust. They get cough medicines from the rural health
unit if these available.
The Department of Health (DOH) provides medical services through the public hospitals, health
clinics, and barangay pharmacies. It also has a nutrition program: a 90-day feeding for
malnourished children. The DSWD provides supplemental feeding for children who are
malnourished and also manages day care for children up to four years old.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 31
Manjuyod is a second class municipality
about 58 km. away from Dumaguete City.
It is located in the northern part of
Negros Oriental. The area is characterized
by lowland and coastal plains, with rolling
terrain in some parts. There are 27
barangays in the municipality.
Based on the 2000 census data,
population size is 38,155 and was
estimated to increase to 47,185 in 2012.
Using the same data set, the age
distribution is as follows: 0 to 14 years
old (41%), 15 to 64 years (55%), and 65
Source: Wikipedia
years old and above (4%). Of the 27
barangays, two have no elementary school. There is only one public high school in Manjuyod.
Manjuyod is an agricultural town. Almost 43 percent of the total agricultural crop land is planted
with rice and corn, while 33 percent is devoted to cash crops like sugarcane and coconut.
Sugarcane is planted in more than 2,400 hectares. Other secondary crops include legumes,
rootcrops, coffee, cacao, fruits and vegetables.
Majority of those engaged in sugarcane production are classified as small farmers (have less
than 10 hectare farm lots). Two prominent large-scale plantations are the Sycip Plantation (with
diversified agricultural industries) and the Montenegro Farms. A private milling company is
located near the boundary of Bais City and Manjuyod.
In cooperatives farming, the farmers lease their lands to cooperatives (where they are
members) which in turn consolidate their farm with other ARBs and small-scale farmers. This
larger farm is managed by the cooperatives. The ARBs can opt to work as hired laborers on this
farm for wages. In some cases, this arrangement is the better option for the ARBs whose
landholdings are deemed too small to be productive and tended to be more capital and labor
intensive relative to larger farms. The ARBs also receive dividends from the profits earned by
their cooperatives, including those from consolidated farming, at the end of the year.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 32
In family-based farming, the ARBs and their families manage and directly work on their land,
hiring additional laborers only when needed. Small-scale farming has its challenges, and in some
cases it is not a viable undertaking because cost (capital and labor) outweigh the benefits. If the
ARB has capital, she or he can also lease lands of other small farmers so as to increase their farm
size and make it a more viable source of income.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Mandalupang has a generally sloping terrain. The land area is estimated to be 637
hectares. More than 85 percent of the land is used for agriculture, with six percent classified as
aquatic and two percent as forest areas. Based on 2007 census, total population is 1,508 (51%
males and 49% females). There are 298 households, which has an average of five members. In
terms of age distribution, nearly half (48%) are 17 years old and below. People aged 18 to 35
years old comprise 28 percent of the population, 20.5 percent are from the 36 to 65 age group,
and 3.5 percent are above 65 years old.
There are seven elementary schools, a day care center and a grocery store in the barangay.
Electricity and piped water are available in the barangay. Around 30 percent of the houses in the
barangay are classified as permanent structures (i.e., made of concrete and wood) while more
than 64percent are classified as semi-permanent (i.e., made of wood and GI sheets). About 72
percent use water-sealed toilets.
The primary livelihood source is farming. Secondary economic activities are self-employment
(e.g. as skilled workers, carpenters) and small scale business.
There are NGOs present in the area that provide educational support and livelihood assistance
(e.g., Silaw sa Kaugmaon – German funded project through United Church of Christ in the
Philippines (UCCP). The area is also a project site of the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan - Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery
of Social Service (KALAHI-CIDSS) and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The
municipality’s priority needs at present are economic in nature: additional employment
opportunities, livelihood projects, and support infrastructures.
Land Reform Experience
Land reform implementation was slow in the town of Manjuyod because of the 40-year political
dynasty that supported the landowners. The landowners did not agree with the land price and
continued to collect crop shares from the ARBs since the 1970s.
Manjuyod is one of the first three areas covered by land reform in Negros Oriental when
Presidential Decree 27, or the Land Reform Law, was declared in 1975, along with Bindoy and
Ayungon. In 1988, Republic Act 6657, the law governing the current land reform process,
covered 1,315,642 hectares with both voluntary offer to sell and compulsory acquisition in the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 33
province. The CARP covered 11 big estates that included Hacienda Felix Montenegro Estate
(FME), Sycip Plantation Inc. (SPI), Montesca Agro-Industrial Corp., Sygaco Estate, and Martinez
Estate, among others, as well as small landholdings, and foreclosed properties by state-owned
banks and rural banks. However, it still took almost 20 years (1988 to 2007) to implement the
program because of the resistance of landowners. There was a misconception by the
landowners that lands will be confiscated without due compensation.
At the height of agrarian reform conflicts, there was violence such as burning of homes,
breaking of farm equipment, eviction and killing. In 1996, the farmers protested and demanded
for the implementation of the land reform program. The military and private guards came to
break the protest. One of the leaders was arrested and was detained for 10 days.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued the areas covered by the program. It first sent
notices for voluntary offer to sell. However, if and when landowners did not act on these,
notices of compulsory acquisition were then sent to the landowners. DAR screens the potential
beneficiaries based on the implementing guidelines. Based on RA 9700, the landowners can
recommend potential beneficiaries and thereafter, DAR screens and decides on these.
In Manjuyod, the total land area assessed was 2,616.9 hectares, of which 423.2 hectares were
deducted as retention areas, pasture lands and those awarded to children of landowners. Of the
remaining 2,199.70 hectares covered by Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),
2,055.01 hectares were awarded to 1,188 ARBs. There was also an additional 96.78 hectares
which included new lands, as well as lands under voluntary offer to sell, and small landowners.
In some cases, ARBs with little or no capital entered into illegal transactions to lease, convert or
sell their rights. Some of these ARBs turned into informal work as construction workers, tricycle
and motorcycle drivers.
The Sycip Plantation Farmers and Workers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Brgys. San Jose,
Alimangan and Maaslag were able to diversify production and adopt mechanized farming
systems; they also managed to be exempted from the sub-division of lands. The Sycip tenants
went for the stock option but did not get dividends for a long time as the owner declared no
profit because of the heavy investment on diversification and mechanization. The stock option
was suspended from 2000 to 2001.
The Sygaco and Montenegro Estate in Brgy. Mandalupang had individual CLOAs distributed to
the ARBs. The Mandalupang Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Multi-Purpose Cooperative
(MARBMPUCO) thrived with little government assistance. Although DAR assisted in the
formation of the cooperative, it was the strong affiliation with Iglesia ni Cristo that bonded the
ARBs. They had no cash loan but the cooperative provided farm inputs in advance, payable after
the milling season. The cooperative slowly built its capital from these transactions.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 34
Some farmers opted to remain as leaseholders to the retention areas of the landowners. DAR
regulates the leasehold contracts with the sharing system put at 75 percent to the leaseholder
and 25 percent to the landowner.
The ARB’s average landholding is between 0.20 to 1.5 hectares. Before land reform was
implemented, aside from their work in the sugar plantation, the farmers also planted corn,
banana, coconut, mangoes, bamboo, and sugarcane on the side to supplement their income.
They also raised livestock such as carabaos. They used to work from three to five days at the
plantation with a daily wage of PhP250. For contracted work in weeding (pakyaw), they earned
PhP1,000 to 3,000 with about two to four workers depending on the work to be done.
After land reform, some Certificate of Land Ownership and Award (CLOA) holders worked in
their individual lands and also worked in other small landholdings. For a 0.25 hectare farm, they
earned a meager PhP2,000 per year. This is not enough to support a family, thus many worked
in other farms where they earned PhP100 per day for weeding.
The relationship with the landlord was severed when the land is distributed to the ARBs. The
ARBs get support from Land Bank for financial assistance, DAR for advice and support for the
cooperative, and the church Iglesia ni Cristo for other assistance The non-government
organization (NGO) Child Fund provides additional livelihood opportunities such as goat and pig
dispersal, and education support for children in the form of school supplies. There are some
microfinance companies such as the Community Eco Venture (CEV) that provide small loans as
PhP5,000 at 1.5 percent interest over five months, or about PhP78 per month.
Unfortunately, for CLOA holders who were not able to pay their real estate tax for 10years or
more, the municipal government has the option to foreclose their properties. Foreclosures were
already implemented in Bais City but not yet in Manjuyod.
The Multi-Purpose Cooperative
The MARBMPUCO was founded by 30 members in 1999. The DAR assisted in organizing the
cooperative which was formed to address farming issues at the ground level. A capital share of
PhP500 was collected from each member in its earlier years; it is now raised to PhP1,000. There
are currently 93 members covering the lands of Sygaco and Montenegro in Manjuyod and Bais
City. The cooperative has a one-hectare compound where 35 households built their homes.
They collectively pay the PhP385 annual tax, or about PhP11 per household per year. The
cooperative extends production loans and farm financing at five percent per month interest. In
2011, PhP678,000 was distributed to 87 members--ranging from PhP2,000 to PhP30,000 per
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 35
The DAR provided trainings in financial management, leadership and marketing. They learned
that the keys to sustaining the cooperative are: good leadership and regular payments of
members. Majority of the members are from the Iglesia ni Cristo.
Support Programs
The DA provides programs and services for the farmers to enable them to maximize farm
production. For large and small animals, Department of Agriculture (DA) provides vaccination
and treatment of livestock. It also provides agriculture insurance for crops including corn,
sugarcane, cassava, mango, to cover crops in cases of natural disasters. Insurance is also
available for farmers for accident or death, medical assistance, and burial. In partnership with
DSWD, DA also has a feeding program for children. It also provides training and seminars to
assist farmers and fishers in organizational building.
There was no report on poverty incidence, little awareness on land reform, livelihood and child
workers. DSWD's mandate is to provide supplemental feeding for children. The new mayor
stopped this in July 2012 to review the program, and bidding was called in early 2014. It has 24
day care centers with 39 workers servicing 1,200 children in the 27 barangays. In 2013, a child
abuse case was reported and managed.
There are about 2,000 households in Manjuyod included in the 4Ps, with 145 households
enlisted in Brgy. Mandalupang.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Both boy and girl children work in sugarcane farms. The average age range of these workers is
11 to 15 years old; some reported to have started working in the fields at eight years old.
Most of the child workers are in the fields only on weekends. The Local Government Unit (LGU)
discourages child labor, although it recognizes that it cannot be totally eliminated.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
The children worked mostly on weekends and other days when there are no classes. Their work
often started at 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., then again at 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. depending on
their tasks, they were paid anywhere between PhP50 (weeding the field) to PhP160 for
harvesting sugarcanes. However, with younger children and children working on their family
farms they were usually paid in kind (food or meals) instead of money. They also do not receive
payment when they help their parents complete a pakyaw work. The parents sometimes give
children PhP5 to 10 as token payment for their work. Children regard this money as their school
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 36
The cooperative ensures that minors are not hired to work in their managed lands but has no
control over family-run farms. Still, if and when the cooperative hires contracted workers
(pakyaw), the parents may bring their children along. Children 12 years and above usually do
weeding, plant sugarcane and corn, spray fertilizer, harvest and plant cane tops (mamaca).
Some 13-year-olds also help in weeding, spraying of fertilizer, harvesting and carrying sugarcane.
Children who work in the farm sometimes miss classes and, in worse cases, fail their grade level.
The income of children from farm work contributes to the family income to buy food. The money
earned is spent for their school allowance and projects. There are also other sources of income,
such as animal raising (goat, chicken, pig, cow and carabao), planting fruits and vegetables
(mango, banana, corn, rootcrop), and informal employment (driving, construction work). In many
cases, mothers and daughters work on the farm and do domestic work as well.
The young adults started working when they were 8, 11, 12, and 13 years old, to weed, plant
corn, spray fertilizer, plant sugarcane, fruits and vegetables. They worked on other peoples’
lands and started as family laborers earning about PhP500 for a family of four. Their CLOAholder parents also asked them to help weed their own farms. They worked on weekends
between 7:30-11am and 1-4pm. They did not get paid when they worked on their parents’ land,
but were paid PhP50 per day, for weeding other peoples’ farms. They give their earnings to their
mothers for the household expenses and are usually given a few pesos to buy a piece of bread
and candy for themselves.
Children’s Education
Child workers said that their work sometimes cause them to miss their classes because they had
to help their parents in the farm that day, or because they are exhausted from working the
previous day. Their grades suffer as a result but they could not stop working because their
income is an important contribution to the family income.
The children also reported that some of their peers frequently miss classes or drop out of school
because they are not interested to study anymore, i.e., they may be slow learners who could not
catch up with the lessons or they preferred to earn an income over studying. Of the latter, they
believed that it is more likely that they can achieve a better life if they worked harder and by
persevering than continuing their education. Some children also dropped out because their
parents could no longer afford to send them to school and had encouraged them to work
instead. The dropout rate in the community is around 10 percent in elementary school and 50
percent in high school.
The NGO Child Fund produces and distributes information and education materials on children’s
rights in the community. They also provide school supplies to encourage children to continue
their studies. The DSWD also monitors the school attendance of children from families enrolled
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 37
in the government cash transfer program. These initiatives have contributed to stemming school
absences and dropout rates in the barangay.
Children’s Health
Children are careful not to get injured from their work. They wear protective clothing such as
gloves, hat and long-sleeved shirts when they work. However when they get sick or injured, they
said they resort to self-medication, herbal medicines or go to traditional healers. Wounds and
cuts were treated with betadine, while antibiotics were used for infections. If the pains get
worse, children are brought the Bais District Hospital.
There are about 40 cases of malnutrition monitored by the barangayhealth workers (BHW) in
the community. Malnutrition is common due to people’s lack of money to buy food, insufficient
nutrients taken in, and inadequate drinking water supply especially during dry season. The
DSWD provides supplemental feeding to these children from time to time.
Other information
Although some children believed that hard work is the key to success more than education, all
of them dream of obtaining a college degree. Their aspirations include becoming teachers,
entrepreneurs, flight attendants, doctors or engineers.
Impact of land reform on child labor
According to the ARBs, their lives have become better since they were awarded their own farms.
Their incomes have improved and they were earning enough to meet their financial obligations,
including the land amortization. Being members of the cooperative, plus the assistance from the
Iglesia ni Cristo, also supported them in their farm needs, especially since they no longer have
landlords to borrow money or materials from. But more importantly, these agencies have
helped bring peace to the community which was almost torn apart by the violence ensuing from
the CARP implementation.
The extent that the above have influenced the context of child labor in the community however
still remains to be seen. Apart from financial constraints, parents’ and children’s views on farm
work and employment vis-à-vis education and long-term plans shape the family’s motivation to
support children’s education.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 38
While Mabinay is considered a first-class municipality, its poverty incidence is placed at 43
percent. Many farmers, including ARBs, still earn less than the poverty line figure of PhP2,900
per month because of the seasonality of produce and low agricultural produce turnout.
In cooperatives farming, the farmers lease their lands to cooperatives (where they are
members) which in turn consolidate their farm with other ARBs and small-scale farmers. This
larger farm is managed by the cooperatives. The ARBs can opt to work as hired laborers on this
farm for wages. In some cases, this arrangement is the better option for the ARBs whose
landholdings are deemed too small to be productive and tended to be more capital and labor
intensive relative to larger farms. The ARBs also receive dividends from the profits earned by
their cooperatives, including those from consolidated farming, at the end of the year.
In family-based farming, the ARBs and their families manage and directly work on their land,
hiring additional laborers only when needed. Small-scale farming has its challenges, and in some
cases it is not a viable undertaking because cost (capital and labor) outweigh the benefits. If the
ARB has capital, she or he can also lease lands of other small farmers so as to increase their farm
size and make it a more viable source of income.
Barangay Mabinay
While Mabinay is considered a first-class municipality, poverty incidence is placed at 43 percent.
Many farmers, including ARBs, still earn less than PhP2,900 which is the poverty line of the
province because of the seasonality of produce and low agricultural produce turnout. It was
noted that ARBs still cannot save enough to pay their real estate tax.
The mandate of DSWD is to provide day care services for children zero to five years old, financial
assistance in times of crises, and livelihood especially to poor women. One of the DSWD's
flagship programs is the 4Ps. More than 5,000 families were identified as beneficiaries of the
program in Region 7.
Land Reform Experience
The key informant interviews with the officials of the Local Government Unit (LGU), Department
of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Certificate of Certificate of Land Ownership Award(CLOA)-holders and
petitioner-representatives generated a picture of how land reform was implemented in the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 39
Land reform in Mabinay started in 1988. Some landowners opted for voluntary offer to sell and
coordinated with the Land Bank. Others were given notice of coverage for compulsory
acquisition by DAR without a land price while others who started at compulsory acquisition
changed to voluntary offer to sell. Some, like the Hacienda Maria Diaz in Brgy. Bagtic resisted
the land reform program, which caused a major conflict over stakeholders.
The 427 hectares of arable, rolling lands of Hacienda Maria Diaz covers more than farms — it
also includes 180 hectares of woodlands at its fringes. The land owner contested the agrarian
reform law and for a long time was unwilling and uncooperative in its implementation. DAR
issued the notice of coverage but was ignored; finally, a notice for compulsory acquisition was
The primary beneficiaries--regular workers of the hacienda--did not apply for CLOA. The land
owner convinced them that land reform will not be implemented and that their jobs will be
secured in the hacienda. On the other hand, the irregular, seasonal migrant workers--as second
and third priority groups under the land reform program--complied and submitted the required
documents. DAR worked on the procedures and granted 135 CLOAs with 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. They also continued to work on the lands while the legitimate CLOA
holders were threatened and barred from the lands. In January 2011, the CLOA holders
encamped in the lands for self-installation. Stone throwing ensued to break the encampment
and a CLOA holder farmer-leader was shot and killed. The petitioners (who were supposed to be
the primary beneficiaries under the law) occupied the land and harvested the sugarcane in
The petitioners were given nine months from February to October 2012 to comply with the
requirements but they did not do so. The Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) came in
February 2013 for a second installation of CLOA holders, together with government officials,
military and church representatives to witness the event. The petitioners again stopped the
installation using women and children as cover. Two contending groups--the CLOA-holders and
the petitioners--have delayed the implementation by filing legal cases and counter-cases, as well
as appeals for negotiation and mediation.
Because of the slow process and violence, some CLOA holders sold their CLOA by mere verbal
agreements for PhP30,000 per hectare. Some moved to the petitioners’ group with the promise
of a faster implementation while others sought work in other lands to support their families.
Based on the 2002 investigation report of DAR with regard the petitioners’ request for inclusionexclusion, there were six tenant-sharers, 11 regular workers in the payroll, seven tillers in the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 40
estate whose status were assailed, and 126 casual workers who were not in the payroll. Thus,
the claim of the petitioners that they were the legitimate beneficiaries was questioned.
The barangay captain proposed a win-win solution by sharing the CLOA of 1.6 hectare each with
a petitioner. He talked to both sides but was accused of being biased for the CLOA holders. The
CLOA owners wanted a resolution to the problem where all of them can work on the lands and
live peacefully together in the barangay. The petitioners were adamant and took a hard stance
and demanded that all lands be granted to them. The Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer
(MARO) and PARO actively worked on a resolution but still nothing happened. The municipal
mayor who was earlier silent in the case later on became more vocal about respecting the law
for a win-win solution.
The conflict was aggravated by speculation and gossips. People shared that the petitioners had
the support from the previous landowners (the leader came from the family of the overseer),
the police, barangay captain and council members (relatives); that a barangay council member
has three CLOAs in his name; and that the money of the previously well-funded multi-purpose
cooperative was lost and unaccounted for. Eleven persons, whose lawyer was a municipal board
member, were arrested over the killing of the farmer-leader but were later bailed out for PhP2
This land case remains unsettled to date.
The Bagtic Small Farmers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative
There is a Bagtic Small Farmers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative or BASFA MPUCO which was
established in 1990. DAR issued the notice of coverage over the 413 hectares of sugar and
woodlands of Hacienda Maria Diaz and conducted the activities explaining the Agrarian Reform
Law. From 1992 to 2004, beneficiaries were identified and validated until finally CLOA was
issued to 135 ARB holders that included both regular and seasonal workers.
Support from government and non-government organizations
A non-governmental organization, NOCPED, assisted the farmers from 1999 to 2006 by
providing capacity-building activities in organizational development and legal training. The
Negros Farmers Council (NFC) came in 2007 and continued providing assistance until 2011. Task
Force Mapalad, in coordination with NOCPED, was also active in the area from 1999 to 2006.
From 1988 to present, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program(CARP) and CARP Extension
With Reform (CARPER) were implemented in Mabinay in big and small landholdings. Many big
landowners recommended their regular workers to be beneficiaries. For Brgy. Bagtic, DAR
conducted an investigative report to settle the case between contesting claimants over
Hacienda Maria Diaz. The Diaz heirs have no more participation in the issue upon payment of
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 41
the land. Thus, the settlement of the land case is now under DAR at the municipal and provincial
Except for the contested lands, the other landholdings covered by CARP were successful. The
ARBs improved their homes, acquired transport, and sent children to school, of whom many
graduated to become professionals. Still, there is a need for value formation and financial
literacy of ARBs to avoid the mistakes of some who lost their properties because of
DAR monitors the land reform implementation through the cooperative. It also included health,
education and skills development, linkaging and other concerns. Department of Health (DOH)
and Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD) monitor the Pantawid Pamilyang
Pilipino Program (4Ps) program and encourage healthy food and lifestyle.
The Land Improvement Division is tasked to review folders from the MARO to distribute
landholdings. The Project Beneficiary Development enters when the ARBs are the owners. It
provides assistance in organizing and capacity building, input for sugarcane technologies and
livelihood; and taps Department of Agriculture (DA), agrarian reform community connectivity
and economic support services, and foreign-funded projects.
Current Child Labor Situation
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Children labor in sugarcane farms can be classified into two: one is the work they do on their
family farms which is generally unpaid work, and second is their work on other people’s farms
for which they are paid on a daily rate or output basis.
The work given to the children vary according to their age and capability. Clearing and weeding
the fields are given to younger children, while older children, especially males, are tasked
physically demanding work such as harvesting and manually loading sugarcanes on trucks.
There are many hazards in working in sugarcane fields, and children often wear long-sleeved
shirts, gloves or jacket to protect them from cuts, wounds and from being burned by the sun.
The protection may be minimal but it is better than nothing. However, some families are too
poor to even provide these for their working children.
The work in the farms usually start at 7:00 a.m., sometimes as early as 6:00 a.m. The children
work until 11:00 a.m. when they take their lunch break. They go back to work at 1:00 p.m. until
3:00 p.m. The wage of child laborers ranges fromPhP40 to PhP70 per day. For pakyaw work, the
children and their parents receive PhP200 for work that covers two and half-days. Food is
prioritized in the family budget but sometimes, parents give children PhP10 as token payment.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 42
Many child laborers said they have no time to play because they work in the fields after school.
They also have household chores to do after their farm work. These include cooking, fetching
water, cleaning the house and yard, and taking care of younger siblings.
Children’s Education
According to the principal of the Bagtic National High School many children dropped out of
school in the recent years, including children from ARB and 4Ps families. As of January 2014, 25
of the 308 students of the school had already dropped out. Teenage pregnancy was also a
reason for two students to drop out of school. Another gender-related difference in the case of
dropouts is while boys dropout to work in the fields, girls dropout to migrate to Manila or
Dumaguete to work as domestics.
Children working in farms are also more likely to be school dropouts than children who are not
working in farms. Although some of these dropouts return to school two or three years after,
many did not because their income from fulltime work is important to the family budget.
The child laborers who are still in school usually work on weekends, except during harvest
season when they are needed the most in the fields. There is a school policy that states students
will be de-listed from the roll after incurring 10 successive absences from school or 10 absences
in a month; child workers and their parents are conscious not to exceed the allowable number
of absences.
Some children drop out of school because of limited money to pay for tuition and school
projects, no interest in continuing education, and the distance between home and school.
Thus, boys would rather work in the farms, and girls move to Dumaguete or Manila to work as
domestic workers.
Children’s Health
A barangay midwife, a barangay nutrition, and a health worker take care of the health needs of
the seven sitios in Brgy. Bagtic. The usual complaints of children are coughs, colds, fever,
diarrhea, and some cases of pneumonia. The health center staff take vital signs of children,
monitor them when necessary, and provide basic medicines like analgesic and antibiotics. In
cases of minor accidents while working in the farm, the staff clean and dress the wounds and
provide antibiotics. For more serious cases, the children are referred to Bais District Hospital or
to Mabinay Medicare.
There were 48 cases of malnourished children reported in 2013. Feeding and vitamin
supplements were provided to remedy the condition.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 43
Other information
Children’s aspirations include obtaining a college degree so they can get jobs in the city. They
want to become teachers, police officers or agriculturists, among others.
Impact of land reform on child labor
One outcome of the land reform implementation was the conflict among the farmers. The
petitioners insisted their right over the land even without going through the standard procedure
of applying and validating claims. They held on to the landowners’ promise that they would be
protected and that the land would be awarded to them. They ignored the processes of
mediation and still did not apply during the period of reconsideration. Meanwhile, the ARBs
have just been waiting to be installed in their farm lands soon so they can start making it
productive. The process of installation and mediation and the possibility of violence are taking
toll on the families. They feel that the government is not doing enough to settle the case and
have lost trust in the system. They also approached the Commission of Human Rights in
Dumaguete but the agency was not ready to take land-related cases.
Since the petitioners have occupied the lands, the ARBs sought work in other farms or as
construction workers. Some children stopped going to school because the parents cannot
support them anymore. Some girls who dropped out moved to the cities to find work as
domestic workers.
The provincial agrarian officer, however, maintains that the land reform program has a big
impact on the children, saying that the ARBs now earn better and can support their children in
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 44
Negros is the second largest island in the
Visayas. The island is divided into two
areas: Negros Oriental in Central Visayas
and Negros Occidental in Western Visayas.
The Kanlaon mountain ranges form the
boundary between the two provinces.
Negros Occidental residents are mostly
Ilonggo or Hiligaynon-speaking.
Negros Occidental’s land area is about
992, 607 hectares. It is comprised of 19
municipalities and 13 cities, with 661
barangays. Bacolod City is the capital of
the province. Based on the 2010 census
data, Negros Occidental has the highest Source: Wikipedia
population size in Western Visayas with
more than 2.9 million people. There are about 274,538 households. The literacy rate in the
province is 91.2 percent as of 2000.
Negros Occidental is known as the “sugarbowl” of the country. The countryside scenery is
characterized by sugarcane plantations–the lifeblood of the Negros economy. The prime
producer of sugar, almost 60 percent of the country’s sugar production is from Negros. More
than 50 percent of the lowland agricultural land is planted with sugarcane. For decades, its
leading traditional export product is raw sugar. There are 15 sugar mills located in the province.
The Victorias Milling in Victorias City is considered the largest in the country; it is also one of the
world’s largest integrated sugar mill and refinery.
Other livelihood sources in the province include fishing, cottage industry, livestock raising, and
cut flower business. One of the largest copper mines in the country is also found in Negros
Occiental in Sipalay City.
Southwestern Negros is very rich in mineral resources (e.g.,gold, copper, silver, nickel,
molybdenum). The Negros mineral belt is located in Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan in Negros
Occidental as well as in some portions of Negros Oriental. In Negros Occidental, mining claims
more than 360,000 hectares. Due to the adverse effects of mining activities, the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan opposed the granting of additional mining applications in the province in the
next25 years. However, the national government has yet to approve of the proposal.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 45
The provincial government launched the Negros First campaign for 2010 to 2013 “…to optimize
the potentials of Negros Occidental as an agricultural province to ensure food sufficiency and
agricultural productivity.” (Provincial Profile of Negros Occidental, 2012)
Sugar industry situation
The social and ecological problems associated with monoculture sugarcane production are
pervasive in the island. The province of Negros was hard hit when the sugar industry collapsed
in the 1980s. There was widespread economic crisis in the province and thousands of sugarcane
workers, including their families, starved.
Today, much of the landscape of Negros remains in monoculture sugarcane production under
the control of wealthy hacienda owners. Many landless laborers continue to toil in the cane
fields for meager wages and are locked in the cycle of poverty and hard work. Households are
often food insecure and vulnerable to shocks from price fluctuations. Rural people are also
heavily reliant on the income from cash crops to purchase food.
Aside from the adverse economic impact, sugarcane production in Negros is associated with
environmental degradation. The burning of sugarcane fields before and after harvest in
particular is harmful. It has resulted to reduced soil fertility and lower sugarcane production to
which farmers responded by applying more fertilizer. The increase of fertilizer in the soil in turn
risks contaminating the groundwater with nitrogen. There is also reduced biodiversity because
of the burning. The health impact of the decrease in air quality included respiratory ailments,
eye diseases and cancer among sugar workers.
Amidst all these concerns, some support institutions exert effort and believe that a positive
transformation is possible in the near future. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program(CARP) that started in 1997 offers some possibilities to respond to land security issues.
In some sugarcane communities, non-government and religious groups provide innovative and
alternative programs like crop diversification and ecological farming to improve farm
production. Community organizing efforts have also led to increased local participation of farm
workers. Access to educational scholarships and other social services are also noted in a few
areas, through the assistance of both government and non-government agencies.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 46
Talisay City is located between Silay City
and Bacolod City. It is seven kilometers
away from the provincial capital. The
landscape is generally flat with moderate
slopes. Mountainous areas are located in
Barangays Katilingban, San Fernando
and Cabatangan. There are two
pronounced seasons in the area: wet
season during the months of June to
December; and dry season during
January to May.
As of the 2007 National Statistics Office
(NSO) census, the city has a total
population of 96,444. Talisay has a total
Source: Wikipedia
land area of 20,118 hectares. The
greater portion of its lands, or 12,092.55 hectares,is used for agricultural activities like farming
and fishing (60.11%of the total land area); while forest lands occupy about 6,628 hectares
(32.95%). Only 1,397.45 hectares (6.95%) are industry, commerce, institutional and residential
Talisay is a growing city. It was converted to a city on February 11, 1998. It is known for three
things: as the center of education in Northern Negros; for its sweet lanzones; and as the First
Farmers' Sugar Central for its production of the sweetest white sugar in the country
In the kin-based block farming system, Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) cluster their farms
with those of their relatives to form a larger farm which they collectively manage and work on.
The arrangement is loose in that the cluster is not formally organized as in the case of
cooperatives or people’s organizations, and people work on the basis of trust rather than rules.
The individual ARBs retain ownership of their lands, however capital infusions that are needed
for the clustered farm are equally borne by everyone. Profits from the collective farm are also
divided equally among the families with lands in the block farm.
The ariendo system entails leasing one’s lands to an ariendador, usually for three years. The
ariendador pays the agreed rate of lease for three years upfront. The ARBs retain ownership of
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 47
their lands, however they can choose to work under the ariendador during this period. They are
paid wages for their labor but do not share in the income (or expenses incurred) from the land.
A number of ARBs opt to lease their land to an ariendador because small-scale farming can be
more capital and labor intensive relative to bigger farm sizes. At the end of the contract, the
ARBs can choose to take back their lands and manage it themselves, renew the contract, or find
another ariendador.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Efigenio is a rural agricultural barangay two kilometers away from the city hall. It is
one of the seven rural barangays in the city which has a total of 27 barangays, covering a land
area of 808.31 hectares. It has a total population of 4,479; the total number of households is
953. The barangay has 2,463registered voters.
Barangay Efigenio’s total income as of 2014 is PhP2,367,420. Almost all of its income
(PhP2,156,420) came from the Internal Revenue Allotment while the rest comes from Real
Property Tax Share (PhP200,000) from fees and charges (PhP100,000) and subsidies(PhP1,000).
The barangay’s source of power is provided by electric cooperatives. The means of
transportation around the community are jeepneys, tricycles, private motorbikes and private
Land Reform Experience
The records from the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office show that the land distributed in
Hacienda Binaliwan was 21.72 hectares with 40 beneficiaries, although in reality, only 13
hectares from the hacienda were distributed to 24 farmers. The remaining 76 hectares still
belonged to the haciendero and is being managed by a katiwala or overseer.
There were 24 farmer-beneficiaries who got the land in 2003. Sixteen of the 24 farmers made a
petition for the distribution of the land to the farmers. Eight did not join the petition. The 16
farmers were led by five leaders who filed a case against the landowner because of the waiver in
the agreement that provides rights to the former haciendero to till the land. However, the five
leaders lost the case and were evicted from their residential home lots at the center of the
hacienda since the residential area was still owned by the landowner.
Those who were left staying in the hacienda's residential area owned by the landowners were
15 farmers: the eight who did not sign the petition and seven of the 16 petitioners who did not
file the case against the landowner after the land distribution. Thus, the 24 farmer beneficiaries
in 2003 are now divided into three groups: the nine farmers who were evicted from the former
hacienda; the seven farmers who were originally part of the 16 petitioners but did not join the
group that filed the case against the landowner; and the eight beneficiaries who did not join the
petition. The group of eight and the group of seven remained in the residential area of the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 48
former haciendero. However, the group of eight who did not sign the petition continues to
provide labor to the haciendero in the sugar land not yet distributed by the CARP and being
managed by the haciendero through his overseer.
The two groups of farmers (Group of 7 and Group of 8) claimed that they have not received any
assistance from the government after the lands were distributed to them. They did not have any
training on managing a farm nor given any equipment, credit or capital for farming. They used
their personal money and borrowed money from the Central First Farmers Milling Company for
their farm expenses. They borrowed PhP50,000 and paid back PhP52,000 including the interest
of PhP2,000 after five months. After the harvest, the farmers shared in the net income. The
estimated income they got was around PhP10,000
While the farmers managed the sugar farm they received through CARP as a block, one group of
farmers continue to provide labor to the haciendero at a rate of PhP200 per day. Thus, their
sources of income in sugarcane farming are the daily wages they get from the hacienda and the
block farming of their own farms. The net income from block farming amounted to PhP10,000
per year.
The other group of farmer beneficiaries who do not work anymore in the hacienda are worried
about the possible eviction in the residential area. They took note of the plight of the five
farmers and their relatives who were evicted because they fought against the landowners.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
A provincial Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) officer observed that child labor is part of the
community’s culture. Children as young as five years old are brought by their parents to the
sugarcane field to help in running errands (e.g., getting drinking water, delivering food to
workers, removing weeds outside the plantation) for the other workers although not necessarily
as paid laborers.
Both boys and girls work in the field doing various tasks.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Many of the child workers are engaged in their family’s farms, or help their parents work in
other people’s farms during weekends and on days when there are no classes. According to
adults, all families engage their children in doing farm work so that this can be quickly
Children’s work in the sugarcane fields vary depending on their age, capabilities and gender.
With regard to gender, it was noted that according to people interviewed, only males (children
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 49
or adults) are tasked to clean the canals, plow, harvest, peel sugarcane leaves, and haul the
sugarcane bundles on trucks. Otherwise all other tasks can be given to females and males.
Children, however, are not allowed to deliver sugarcanes to the mills as this involves driving
large trucks.
Payment varies according to the tasks accomplished. However, it is understood that children
would not be paid if they work on family farms or if they help their parents complete pakyaw
work. Parents though would sometimes give them a few pesos as token payment.
Older children are paid more than the younger ones when they engage in paid work. Whereas
17-year old workers receive PhP100 a day for weeding and planting, a 12 year old doing the
same work receive only PhP50. Children said they use their wages for school expenses, including
for their baon (allowance).
Adults who were child laborers before land reform was implemented in the community
observed that there are less children working in the sugarcane fields now compared to their
time. They mentioned three reasons for this: the law that prohibits children being hired as farm
workers, less work available for children, and the hotter climate. Regarding the last one, one of
the major factors that make work in the farm difficult according to the children is the intense
heat from the sun which they had to endure. Another factor is the toll the work takes on their
bodies (e.g. on their backs). Yet despite these, children said they are happy doing farm work
because they are able to help their parents.
A provincial officer of DAR said that child labor in sugar farming will always be there. It is
already part of the culture. The children serve as “free labor” for the parents. There has to be
an awakening before children will stop working in the farm. He cited an example of an
adolescent guy who used to help his father who was a hired worker in the hacienda. When
his father got sick, he sought help from the landowner to provide a vehicle to bring his father
to the hospital but was denied. This situation caused the adolescent to re-think what could
happen to him if he would stay working in the farm. He thought that what happened to his
father would also happen to him if he would stay. Thus, he decided to look for alternative
work. He contracted a bakery to deliver and sell bread. He is now earning money not by
working in the farm but by selling bread.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 50
Children’s Education
In Barangay Efigenio, there is an elementary school which has 487 students and a high school
with 125 students (ChildFund, n.d.).
The parents said that all their children go to school, and in fact, some are at the top of their
class. According to the children said that they are absent from school only when they are sick.
They were never absent from school due to work in the farm
Only one parent said that he has a 17-year-old son who does not want to go to school and just
stays at home. However, the young adults who used to be child workers admitted that they
have siblings who have stopped schooling due to lack of money to support them in school. They
said that they still work in the farm now because they have nothing else to occupy themselves
with. One former child laborer said that his family often transferred residence, hence he
stopped going to school. He started working when they were in elementary and went on full
time working in the farm after finishing high school. Knowing that he would not be able to go to
college, he decided to continue working in the farm.
Children’s Health
The parents agreed that there are no serious illnesses among their children who are working in
the farm. They also claimed that no one is malnourished. Regarding injuries from working in
sugarcane farms, the cases were few and far in-between. The parents mentioned only one
incident when a child was hit and wounded on the foot by the “asarol” (hoe).
The children also said the same thing and added that they have not suffered any serious
illnesses because of their work in the farm, only simple colds, cough, fever and flu which they
can easily treat with the medicines given at the health center. They also experienced backaches
due to prolonged bending, headaches from working under the heat of the sun but they did not
consider these as serious conditions.
According to the children, people in the barangay do not seek medical help unless the condition
was serious. Related to this, young adults also said that they only go to the barangay health
center only if they had been sick for a week already. The health center provides basic services
such free medical check-up and services for immunization, de-worming, feeding, dental and
distribution of Vitamin A. It also gives medicines for free when these are available.
Other information
When asked about their aspirations, the children said that they want to be a teacher, an
engineer, a policeman or a nurse when they grow up. They want to help the family and to have
better health. They also want to have a good life where no one is into drugs or rebelling against
their parents.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 51
Impact of land reform on child labor
It is clear from the accounts of children and adults alike that child labor in their community is
closely tied with the socio-economic situation of their families. That is, unless the situation
improves and the child’s income is no longer necessary to meet the basic needs of the family,
including children’s education, it would be very difficult to eliminate child labor in the
It is in this context that land reform as a response against poverty can be appreciated as a
response to child labor as well. The farmer-beneficiaries acknowledged that they have more
income now because of the land reform. In addition to the PhP10,000 that they get per
cropping, they are still able to work as hired workers and get PhP500 per day. They work 15 days
a month and therefore get PhP7,500 per month. The bulk income they get after the cropping
season is a new source of income for the farmers. They did not have this before when they were
simply hired workers in the hacienda. Though they consider their income as inadequate, there
are improvements in their quality of life. They are able to buy better food like chicken and
improve their houses by having hollow blocks and iron sheet roofing. They are also able to buy
appliances such as television and plastic furniture.
The farmers said that they are able to send their children in school. The children of the
beneficiaries said that they can also buy personal belongings like new clothes and shoes.
Socially, the farmers said that family members help 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. This can also explain the existence of child labor.
It was also recognized that because of the land distribution, conflict arose among the families
with regard to the management of the farm. This is the reason why there was division among
the 24 family-beneficiaries.
The farmers continue to be active in community activities, but this was just the same as when
they were still in the hacienda. Before, they considered themselves as squatters in the land.
Now, they own the land.
Among the 10 non-beneficiaries who participated in the FGD, seven said that they saw changes
in the lives of the beneficiaries. They said that the beneficiaries were able to send their children
to school. They were able to buy household appliances and other assets. They also mentioned
that some farmer-beneficiaries were able to help the poor.
Only three non-beneficiaries said that they have not seen any changes in the lives of the farmers
who benefitted from the land reform.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 52
Problems and Challenges
The farmer-beneficiaries cited the lack of budget as their main problem. They do not have
equipment for farming such as tractors and carabaos. They have to rent farming equipment
which entails additional cost.
Although the farmer beneficiaries still continue to provide labor to the hacienderos, the latter
now get workers from other provinces, hence the farmer beneficiaries have lesser work to do
and the benefits they had before under hacienda like Social Security System(SSS) coverage were
also gone.
During the months of June and July, the hired workers have no more work to do, hence they
look for other contractual jobs or do vegetable farming.
Another problem is the non-payment of the land amortization. The farmers were not conscious
of paying it and not a single farmer has paid.
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
includes the eviction of the farmers from the land where they used to live and the cutting of
benefits that the farmers used to enjoy.
There are political undertones in the division of farmers. Initially, the 16 were the petitioners.
The five of them were more critical due to the waiver they saw in the agreement but the nine
members did not join the five in filing the case. So when they lost, the five were evicted. Why
was it that only 16 of the 24 signed the petition. Why only five filed a case? This shows
differences in the way the farmers look at the same situation. It can be seen therefore that the
farmers were not united in their struggle for the land as shown in their differences in position
with respect to the petition for land reform and subsequent decisions pertaining to the
management of the farms. Thus three groups emerged after the distribution of the land to the
There has been a reduction in child labor but this has not been directly attributed to the
implementation of the land reform program. Child labor still exists mostly in planting, weeding
and running errands in the farm.
Block farming is operating with the farmers themselves managing their farms. However, they
need support especially in credit facilities to liberate them from usurious practices. Collective
farming can be enhanced if there are other services that will be made possible for the farmers
such as transportation services, tractors, and training in leadership and farm management.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 53
Bago became a city on February 19, 1966
by virtue of Republic Act (R.A.) 4382.
Bago City is included in the fourth district
of Negros Occidental. It is 21.5 kilometers
away from Bacolod City, the capital of
Negros Occidental. Bago City is bounded
in the north by Bacolod City and Murcia,
in the northwest by Guimaras Strait, in
the southeast by Pulupandan and
Villadolid, in the east by San Carlos City
and Kanlaon City and La Carlota City in
the south.
Bago City is composed of 24
barangays,16 of which are rural and eight Source: Wikipedia
are urban. The city has a total land area of
40,210. hectares. Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park, which is located in Bago City, comprises 3,651.7150
hectares. Brgy. Bacong, the biggest barangay has a total land area of 4,827.0350 hectares, while
Brgy. Poblacion, the smallest barangay, covers 311.5044 hectares. The city has 1,100 hectares
occupied by water and a coastline of 15 kilometers.
According to the 2007 census, Bago City has a total population of 159,933 and a household
population of 32,309. The rural population is 93,047 and urban population of 66,886; 99.6
percent of the population speak Ilonggo and 0.04 percent speak other languages such as
Tagalog, Cebuano, Aklanon and Ilocano; 82 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, six
percent are Aglipayan, three percent are Iglesia ni Cristo, two percent are Convention of
Philippine Baptist Church and the remaining are either, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventist, or Evangelicals.
The ariendo system also refers to the lease of ARB lands to an individual, the “ariendador”,
rather than to a group or cooperative. The usual rate is PhP15,000 per year. The ariendador
often leases the land for a minimum of three years and pays for this in advance. The ARBs
remains the owner of their land, although they can hire their labor to the ariendadors. The land
size under an ariendador’s management can be as large as 30 hectares as in Brgy. Dulao. There
is no income or crop sharing arrangement between the ariendador and the farm owners under
the ariendo system.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 54
At the end of three years, the ARBs can take back their land and manage it themselves, renew
the contract with the ariendador, or strike a contract with a new ariendador.
“Prenda” literally means to “pawn”. Under this system, the ARBs pawn their lands to another
person for about PhP100,000 per hectare for a duration of five to 10 years. All the expenses on
managing the land are borne by the lessor; all the profits from the land also accrue to her or
him. The farmer-beneficiaries could take back the land if they pay back the amount at the end of
the agreed timeframe. If they default, the lessor can continue to manage the land. The farmerbeneficiaries who leased his land can be hired as workers in their own farm and get paid based
on the existing rate. Out of the 58 farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Dulao, 30 (52%) have leased
their land through the prenda system. The primary reason for practicing prenda is the need to
finance the education of children. The biggest farm being managed by a lessor through prenda is
seven hectares.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Dulao is 17.8 kilometers away from the city proper. It has a total land area of 2,375.91
hectares. As of 2011, the total population of the barangay is 8,989 with 1817 households.
The barangay is considered as one of the most irrigated barangays in the city of Bago. It is
relatively flat and its fertile volcanic soil is suitable for agricultural activities. There are two
distinct seasons in Dulao: the wet and dry seasons. The wet season occurs during the months of
May until December and the dry season during the months of March and April.
Land Reform Experience
It was said that the landowner in Sitio Mischelle, Brgy. Dulao was the first owner to voluntarily
sell the land in 1993. There were 29 farmer-beneficiaries who benefitted from 69.94 hectares of
the land. Of this land, 55.31 hectares were distributed to the farmers and 14.63 hectares were
for communal ownership for roads and other facilities. This means that the average land size
awarded to each farmer-beneficiary was 1.9 hectares. In 2001, the second batch of Certificate of
Land Ownership Award(CLOA) was processed bringing the total farmer-beneficiaries in Purok
Mischelle to 59.
According to the farmer-beneficiaries, their former landowner belonged to a very kind family.
“Hindi sila matapobre” (They did not discriminate us because we are poor). The landowner
provided housing, deep well, and electricity. When there were special occasions such as fiesta
and Holy Week, the people in the hacienda were fetched and brought to the other hacienda to
join in the celebration or watch the parade. During summer, the landowner sponsored
community excursions to the beach. Hence when land reform program was launched by the
government in 1993, it was not surprising that the landowner was the first to voluntarily sell the
land to the farmers.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 55
There were farmer beneficiaries who were very happy with the distribution of the land. They
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 working under a master…to prove that we can
succeed using our own resources. The land is our reward after many years of hardship and
However, the farmers were confronted with the lack of finances to support the farming
operations. Only two farmers managed the farm by themselves and the rest leased their land by
prenda or ariendo. According to the farmer beneficiaries, they did not get any support from the
government, beyond the improvement of transportation and road facilities. Credit facilities and
skills training which were critical were absent.
During the first five years after land reform, they tried farming by themselves, borrowing money
from private lenders to finance the production. However they realized that their income was
just going to paying the interest of the loans they got This when most of the beneficiaries began
to lease their lands to better off farmers. The latter were wealthy members of the community
and in many cases relatives of the farmers. The farmers said that it is difficult to lease the land
to non-relatives because of many questions raised in the process. The farmers have a contract
with the ariendador for three to five years. These contracts are not notarized. The farmers are
paid the lease for three years, amounting toPhP30,000 to PhP45, 000. However the farmers
often make advances due to emergencies, so the lease payment for the next three years is
already paid even before the first three years is over. When the farmers are not satisfied with
the relations with the ariendador, the farmer can lease the land to another one.
The lease ranges from PhP10,000 to PhP15,000 per hectare, depending on the quality of the soil
and location of the farm. When the farm is near the road, the lease is higher compared to those
in the far flung areas.
Presently, the homelots where the houses of the farmers are built are still owned by the
landowners since these were not covered by the CARP. Only the farmlands were distributed.
The farmers do not pay rent for their home lots but other benefits such as excursions and visits
to other hacienda were stopped.
Current Child Labor Situation
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Both boy and girl children, from ARB and non-ARB families work in sugarcane farms. Their age
ranges from 10 to 17 years old. Their reasons for working include wanting to help their parents,
to buy rice for their family and to have money for school expenses.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 56
According to the children, working on the farm is difficult because it is physically demanding and
they had to work under the heat of the sun. They suffered from backaches and headaches
because of these. To protect themselves from getting sick or injured, children wore hats, boots,
gloves, sunglass or raincoat while working. The parents also remind their children to be careful,
especially when they are using sharp tools. The children are prevented from going up in the
trucks. The younger ones who bring food for the working family members in the farm are told by
the parents to go home immediately after.
Children’s work in the farms includes weeding, preparation of the materials to be planted and
planting. Older children, especially the males, are tasked with the heavier work of harvesting
and hauling sugarcane on trucks. Despite the heavy work, children said they are happy because
they are able to help their parents, and work with other child laborers. They added that they are
also used to the work. If they have a choice though, they would not work in the farm.
According to adults, children work only on days when they do not have to go to school. Some of
the adults were not averse to having children work in farms as this would help them appreciate
hard work. However, they are not in favor of continuing child labor because they are afraid that
the children will get used to the work and end up as workers in the farm all their lives.
Children’s Education
The children working in the farm attend the elementary and high school located in the
barangay. Both parents and children said that the children have no failing grades despite their
absences from the school due to sickness and work in the farm. Among the non-beneficiaries,
they said that they have children who do not go to school anymore because of they could no
longer afford it, the child’s work, and the long distance children walked to the school. Some
children had already lost interest in studying and did not want to study anymore.
In general, however, there were fewer absences noted among children in school. One of the
reasons cited for this the national conditional cash transfer program of the government which
identified regular school attendance of children in beneficiary families as a pre-requisite for
receiving the full cash grant.
Children’s Health
The children have experienced being bitten by insects like centipedes and other animals in the
farm. The leaves of the sugarcane also irritate and are sometimes painful to the skin. The
parents, on the other hand, claimed that the children do not get sick or encounter accidents
while working in the sugarcane farm.
The children experienced having fever, colds, cough and swollen body parts. For these they just
take over-the-counter medicine and go to the doctor only when their condition is no longer
bearable. One mentioned that he got sick because of arsenic chemical.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 57
Both the parents and the children said that the children are not underweight; some are even
The children still find time to play in the afternoon after farm work. They play basketball,
volleyball, and running.
Health services are available in the community health center. Among the services provided free
to children are Vitamin A supplements medicines, immunization for small children, deworming,
feeding program, dental services and “tuli" (circumscision) services. The health center also
provides free birth delivery services, with only the cost of medicines used are charged
Impact of land reform on child labor
The farmers said that the land reform program has benefitted them. “Malaking tulong para sa
mga small planters. Hindi na kami nahihirapan. Puedeng magtrabaho o hindi. Napag-aaral na
namin ang mga bata sa kolehiyo kasi may pera na nakukuha kami mula sa ariendador”"(The
land reform was a big help for small planters. We have lesser hardships now. We can decide
when to work. We were able to send our children in college because we could get money from
the ariendador who leased our land)”. The beneficiaries cited the following as the other impacts
of land reform: they were able to build their house, put up a sari-sari store, buy a tricycle and
able to access electric services.
Moreover they have become closer with their relatives who are ariendadors. They were also
able to borrow their tricycles in times of emergency.
In terms of their participation in the community governance however, the respondents said
there was no difference from the situation before and after the land reform.
For children, the good impact of land reform on their lives could be evidenced from the
improvement of their houses, and their purchase of household appliances such as television and
refrigerator. Some ARB families were also able to buy tricycles which gave an additional income
of PhP300 to 500 per day.
The children also mentioned that they were more confident that they can continue their studies.
They even have siblings who were able to go to college because of the increased incomes of
their parents. They have better clothes and have better food on the table. Before, they only
have dried fish; now, their parents are able to buy chicken.
The positive impact of land reform on the families as cited by the parents and the children were
affirmed by the non-beneficiaries who have witnessed the improvement in the lives of their
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 58
However, child labor is a persistent issue because it has been the practice of parents to bring in
their children as additional labor in their work.
The case in Dulao shows the kind heartedness of the landowners who later on 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, cutting the benefits they used to enjoy and leaving the farmers on their
The farmers tried to manage the farm by themselves. But when financial support was not
available and their income from the farm just went to the interest on the loans they got, they
finally decided to lease their land to the ariendador.
The arrangement enabled them to have bulk income from the lease as well as daily income
when they work as hired workers. With more free time, they are able to do other work such as
contractual carpentry and tricycle driving.
The farmers recognized that they are still poor and hard up until now but their present situation
is better than when they were still hired workers in the hacienda.
Child labor in the farm still exists. As the parents work under the “pakyaw” system, the parents
tend to bring their children to the farm for extra manpower and do less hazardous work such as
planting and weeding. They do these when there are no classes. There are cases though when
young boys aged 16-17 are engaged in plowing and harvesting because the parents have
become old and sickly.
Generally, the implementation of land reform has improved the situation of the farmers. Due to
additional income, they were able to buy new household appliances, improve their housing,
have better food and send their children to school, even to college. There is therefore indirect
positive impact to the children as these improvements in the family situation also improve the
condition of the children.
Since it is a tradition among the farmers and the parents to bring their children to the farm, then
there has to be a change in the consciousness among them that will discourage their children
from working in the farms. This includes addressing the poverty situation of the families so that
they need not bring their children to the farm. It also means creating a new enabling
environment where the children will be encouraged to do alternative activities that they will
enjoy, other than working in the farm.
For land reform implementation, block farming should be pursued through organized
cooperatives rather than the ariendo system which is managed by an individual.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 59
Murcia is around 16.5 kilometers from
the capital city of Bacolod. It is located at
the foot of Mount Kanlaon and is
bounded by the cities of Talisay, Silay and
San Carlos in the north; Bago and La
Carlota cities in the south has a land area
of 30,666 hectares. As of 2010it has a
population of 75,207 living in its 23
Murcia is considered as a first class
municipality, although its poverty
incidence is 20.9 percent in 2009.
Tourism is a growing industry in the
municipality. One of its top tourist Source: Wikipedia
attractions is Mambukal Resort, which is
famous for its springs, river and different species of bats.
In cooperatives farming, the farmers lease their lands to cooperatives (where they are
members) which in turn consolidate their farm with other Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs)
and small-scale farmers. This larger farm is managed by the cooperatives. The ARBs can opt to
work as hired laborers on this farm for wages. In some cases, this arrangement is the better
option for the ARBs whose landholdings are deemed too small to be productive and tended to
be more capital and labor intensive relative to larger farms. The ARBs also receive dividends
from the profits earned by their cooperatives, including those from consolidated farming, at the
end of the year.
Barangay Profile
Barangay San Miguel has a population of 3,298 individuals in 640 households. It has a land area
of 1,493.25 hectares and is accessible through jeepney and motorcycle. Community facilities
include a health center, one public school and one private school. With regard to religion,
many people in the barangay are Catholics, Baptists, or Adventists.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 60
Land Reform Experience
There were two organizations interviewed for this case study. The first is A&G Esteban Farmers’
Association. This organization is registered with Department of Labor and Employment(DOLE) as
a legitimate workers’ association. It has around 50 members. Members of this people’s
organization are mostly petitioners. A survey of the land has been done and they are now
waiting for the Certificate of Land Ownership Award(CLOA). They reside in a 157-hectare land of
which 48 hectares is covered by their petition. The association has been in the area for at least
40 years. The 48 hectares under petition is still managed by the Esteban family and being rented
out to farmers. The A&G Esteban Farmer’s Association have several programs. They grow
mushrooms, and have a seed bank. They also have flatbed dryer and rice thresher which they
rent out.
The second organization is San Rafael Agrarian Reform Cooperative which has 52 members.
They are focused on organic vegetable farming. They hope to be the pioneer in organic farming
in their purok. They also conduct organic farming education where they campaign for organic
fertilization of soil, healthy, safe, and cheaper production of vegetables. They say organic
farming is not fit with the timeframe of sugarcane farming. They want a crop that they can
harvest multiple times a year. Also they say organic farming is best used in multiple cropping.
They have already harvested and have attended organic farm festival in their municipality. The
cooperative is in the process of establishing an organic demonstration farm at the time of the
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Both boys and girls work in sugarcane farms. Their age ranges from 6 to 15 years old. However,
adults and children alike agree that there are more male child workers than females. Boys are
also more likely than girls to start to work at a young age. While boys often start working in
farms at ages earlier than 8 years old, girls usually start at 10 years old.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
Although there is no official statistical data on the number of child farm workers in Brgy. San
Miguel, engaging children in farm work is an acceptable practice in the community. It has been
said that as soon as children learn how to hold farm tools, they could already work in the farms.
Younger children (6-10 years old) could do weeding, burning of sugarcane, deliver food, and
gather pests like snail (kuhol) in rice farms. Older children (10-17 years old) do cutting and
loading in addition to other lighter tasks.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 61
Engaging in farm work is regarded as an opportunity by parents for the children to learn farming
and help the family. This is true even for families who are beneficiaries of Child Fund
interventions; they too have children who do farm work. However parents also believe that the
schooling of children should not suffer because they are involved in farm work.
Some respondents noted the changes in child labor over the years. One was the decline in the
number of children working in sugarcane farms. Comparing the tasks given to child laborers
across a generation, it could also be noted that it was more acceptable in the previous
generation to engage children in what at present would be considered hazardous work for
them. Specifically these are burning sugarcanes before harvesting and cutting the sugarcanes
using sharp tools. While former child laborers (now adult farmers) readily said they did these
tasks as child workers, present child workers stated that they could not be involved in these
activities without adult supervision.
With regard to payment for child labor, it was understood that children do not receive payment
for their work on family farms. If children are given snacks, it is because they are family not
because they worked. The parents see a need for children to learn ‘the craft of farming’ for two
reasons: first, so that they would know how to run a farm in the future; and second, so that they
would realize how difficult it is to be a farmer. It was believed that the latter would motivate
children to study hard.
Children’s work on other people’s farms and plantations however are paid. Payment received
varies from PhP150 to as high as PhP400 for two days per 1/2 hectare for pre-planting activities
(clearing, weeding, tilling, and preparation of cane points). Duration of pre-planting activities
also varies depending on the thickness of grass and land size and number of people involved in
the same work. They were not able to give an estimate payment for harvest activities. Payment
for children and adults are the same. Children also do other errands such as delivery of food. In
bigger plantations their names are not listed in the payroll but instead their parents receive the
payment for them.
As mentioned earlier, more male children are engaged in farm work than females. Females are
usually engaged in weeding, applying fertilizer, and planting – tasks which are considered as the
lighter tasks. Weeding of a one-hectare land is usually paid PhP1,000 but this could fetch as high
as PhP4,000 if grass is thick. This is ideally done by five persons per one hectare. Another
arrangement is PhP100 to PhP150 per day. Cutting and loading is paid Php150 per day. They do
not notice other types of incentives such as food. Children reported using their income to buy
rice, clothes, food and pay family’s debt. They usually turn over their income to their parents.
Children’s Education
Adults and children alike attribute children’s absences from school to farm work, or more
generally, to poverty which compelled children to engage in paid labor. Even if children do not
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 62
work every day, their work could still fall on a weekday thus their schooling is still affected. They
also serve as substitute workers for their parents. As one respondent said, “Kung may lagnat si
nanay, ako na lang” (When mother is sick, I can work on her behalf). On days when they do not
work, they are sometimes sick or very tired to go to school or pay attention when in school.
Children in non-ARB families related that poor children often drop out of school because they
had to work. They also drop out because they do not have money to pay for their food and
transportation to school. These children work on the farms on weekdays, while resting and
playing on weekends. They receive their weekly wages on Saturdays.
There were also children who work only on weekends and not necessarily in farms. Some
children are engaged in other livelihood activities such as broom making. Parents let them work
for the following reasons: to increase family income; to develop skills their children have; to
instil in the children the value of money; and to prevent their children from becoming ‘tambays’
(unemployed, idle youths).
Some children who dropped out from school returned to finish their studies. Some even
graduated from college with the help of scholarships given by their employers or the municipal
government. However, according to adults who were once child workers, the priority of most
families engaged in sugarcane farming are food, shelter and clothing – not education. Poverty
leads children to farming which makes it hard for them to finish or even attend school.
Children’s Health
The agrarian beneficiaries say that children in their sitio are healthy and there have been no
incidents of sugarcane farm-related accidents and sickness. But the child workers refuted this
when they reported that they and other children they know occasionally get wounded or cut
from weeding and tilling; there have been instances when children fell down from the truck
ladder. Moreover, they work under the heat of the sun and the cold of the night, not stopping
even when they are hungry. As one respondent said, “It is very difficult, It is hot then it is cold,
and you are very hungry.”
This was also the experience of the former child workers. The hazards of working in sugarcane
farms for children still remained unaddressed, and as in their time, the health center could only
do first-aid as response to accidents in the farm. People still resorted to alternative or traditional
treatment for health problems because this was what they could afford. Malnutrition and
growth stunting were also recognized by adults as health issues connected with working in the
sugarcane fields at an early age.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 63
Impact of land reform on child labor
The sentiment of the FGD participants from all sectors are the same. Owning land allows the
ARBs more options to earn. They can rent out the land, they can control production (what to
plant, when to plant what), they can strategize given their resources. They noted though that
some beneficiaries of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program(CARP) no longer own their land.
The beneficiaries have lost their land due to high debt while some chose to sell the land and
pursue other livelihood activities. They attribute this to lack of financial capital, claiming that
they no longer have a landlord now to go to in times of need and the government has failed to
play this role of “provider” their landlord used to play.
In terms of distribution of land, this is appreciated by non-beneficiaries and beneficiaries hope
they could be covered as well. The beneficiaries lament the lack of support services that could
benefit the land distributed to them. Even non-beneficiaries realize this i.e., over time,
beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries do not have significant economic difference. The lack of
support services did not just hinder the beneficiaries from maximizing their land, it also created
a need for them to borrow money which brings them back to their status as hired workers. The
poverty created by this situation affects the children severely. Children are asked to work in the
farm. Children’s work is by default, treated as assistance to their family or training thus, they are
not paid. Involving children in farm work, even with schooling as a priority, could mean saving
on labor wage that could have been paid to hired farm workers. The general sentiment though
is that children are involved in the farm with their schooling in mind as a priority. Children are
said to be more involved during weekends and or after class. But still there are children who
absent from school due to farm work. It may be because they are working at the farm on school
days or they are dead tired working over the weekend they could not go to school anymore.
For the ARBs, only land and titling services were experienced by them. The recommendation
from the community is the full implementation of support services envisioned in CARP. Note
that this may not translate to abolition of child work as some see that children need to work in
the farm to be trained and appreciate the value of hard earned money. For some, farm work is a
craft they should pass on to their children.
An advantage of Brgy. San Miguel is there are several (around nine) milling stations or “central”
accessible to them. Thus, these milling stations compete for their sugarcane by buying them at a
higher price.
Reduction and abolition of child workers may need more than the full implementation of CARP.
It may involve looking at child work from the perspective of culture (i.e., passing on a craft), and
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) perspective. This may mean having a more controlled
environment (i.e., community farm school) solely for teaching children how to farm and its value
to the community and country. It may even mean regulating the milling stations such that
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 64
monopoly is discouraged and fair price is encouraged. This may be done by opening up the area
for more milling stations such that they compete for fair market price of sugarcane.
The feasibility of a conditional cash transfer may also be studied. A conditional cash transfer
may be designed to ensure that children go to school AND refrain from doing farm work. A
modified condition may be that children in farm work should be at all times safe from different
hazards in the farm and go to school. The amount of cash transfer may be based on the current
farm wage in the area or higher.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 65
Kabankalan is a first class city. It has a
land area of 69,935 hectares (2007 data),
with a total population of 167,666 (2010
census). It consists of 32 barangays, nine
of which are found near the city center,
while 23 are in the outlying areas.
Kabankalan became a city in 1997.
Kabankalan City is considered as the most
progressive city in the province next to
Bacolod. It serves as the center of
economic activities in Southern Negros. It
is called the “gateway to Southern
Negros.” It is connected to Dumaguete
City, the capital of Negros Oriental, via
the Kabankalan-Mahinay Highway.
Source: Wikipedia
Its history of armed conflict between the military and insurgents in the 1980s did not deter the
flourishing of trade and commerce in the area, resulting to the establishment of banks,
businesses, schools, hospitals and other infrastructures. In 2011, Kabankalan City was awarded
as the Best Performing City in Region 6 in the Regional Search for Excellence in Local
Agriculture is the backbone of Kabankalan City economy. More than half (55%) of its land area is
devoted to agriculture, with sugarcane as the main product. Other agricultural products include
rice, corn, fruits, vegetables, and rootcrops. There are two sugar mills in the area, as well as a
modern slaughterhouse and corn processing mill and warehouse. The National Economic
Development Authority (NEDA) has identified the city as an emerging regional growth center.
The steady growth of Kabankalan City is noted in its economy, education, industries,
transportation and governance. It is also a popular tourist destination because of the Sinulog
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 66
Two modes of farming are seen among the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in Brgy. Salong.
In cooperatives farming, the farmers lease their lands to cooperatives (where they are
members) which in turn consolidate their farm with other ARBs and small-scale farmers. This
larger farm is managed by the cooperatives. The ARBs can opt to work as hired laborers on this
farm for wages. They also receive dividends from the profits earned by their cooperatives,
including those from consolidated farming, at the end of the year.
In family-based farming, the ARBs and their families manage and directly work on their land,
hiring additional laborers only when needed. Small-scale farming has its challenges, and in some
cases it is not a viable undertaking because cost (capital and labor) outweigh the benefits. If the
ARB has capital, she or he can also lease lands of other small farmers so as to increase their farm
size and make it a more viable source of income.
Barangay Profile
Barangay Salong has a total population of 9,374 comprising 1,912 households. It has three
primary schools, two high schools, health centers, churches, a public market, and a library. The
main livelihood activities are sugarcane production, rice farming and animal raising. During
sugarcane off season (May to July), some people engage in charcoal making and vegetable
production. There are microfinance groups that provide assistance to farmers. Local
cooperatives have also been organized. The Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) or youth council also
provides educational scholarships and skills training to the youths.
Major community problems include unemployment and poverty resulting to food shortage,
health problems and lack of education. Although most of the farmers are ARBs, they said they
lack farming support thus are often forced to lease or sell their land. Poverty and unemployment
have pushed many children to work in sugarcane farms and dropout of school. The people
agreed that the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) needs to be revitalized.
Land Reform Experience
The estimated land coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in
Kabankalan A is 12,000 hectares. Kabankalan A has accomplished 50 percent of its target with
around 2,000 beneficiaries gaining ownership. The remaining 6,000 hectares is yet to be
awarded to identified ARBs.
From 2013 up to the present, DAR has been working on the distribution of the Phase 3 B areas,
haciendas with more than five but less than 10 hectares in size. The beneficiaries working in
Phase 3 A plantations, 10 hectares and above, had already been given notices of coverage.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 67
Modes of Land Acquisition
According to the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer(MARO), their mode of taking possession of
the haciendas in Kabankalan is usually through compulsory acquisition (CA). However, there
were landowners who offered to voluntarily sell their land even after their receipt of the
compulsory acquisition notice from DAR office.
The ARBs’ Actual Experience in Barangay Salong
The ARBs became beneficiaries in 2013. The lands they acquired were from two landowners.
The first parcel was a 17-hectare pasture land which was voluntarily sold to Department of
Agrarian Reform(DAR). Families then came and utilized portions of this property, planting crops
like corn, rice, peanuts and vegetables. Later, DAR came, surveyed and divided the land into
smaller parcels and awarded to the workers the portions that they were actually tilling.
Seventeen beneficiaries were awarded by the program, each receiving lands ranging from 0.50
to 3 hectares in size.
The second land identified for land reform was a neighboring grazing land22 hectares in size,
which was also voluntarily sold to DAR. Thirteen ARBs were given lands from this grazing land
ranging from 1.50 to 2.50 hectares in size.
According to a beneficiary, when they were still farm laborers, the ARBs get an average of
P3,000 per month in one cycle. Thus, the whole family is mobilized to earn a living. However,
with their present status as small farmer, they earn from PhP50,000 to PhP60,000 per hectare
per cycle which is a far cry from what they received previously. However, this is still inadequate
to make both ends meet. Many of them are also involved in other income-generating activities
to augment their earnings. Many of them help other members experiencing difficulties in their
farm operations or getting money to buy farm inputs. For instance, ARBs needing some
equipment or toolscould rent these from other ARBs at reasonable rates. With the support of
this newly formed but informal group, no one among the ARBs has mortgaged (prenda/sangla)
his/her property. The practice of prenda or sangla of awarded lands is against the land reform
Since they are not yet a registered group, there are no organizations assisting them or providing
them with the much needed support services. It is therefore difficult for them to adequately
fund the needs of their farms.
As individual families however, ARBs received support from some non-government
organizations (NGOs). From 1996 to 1999, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
(PRRM) extended livelihood assistance like irrigation facilities, dryer, and farm animals and
support to their day care and feeding program. The Kapatiran NGO catered to the children in
armed conflict by providing teachers for the day care centers. Educational Research
Development Assistance Foundation(ERDA) is serving about 300 child beneficiaries, primarily
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 68
focused on providing sponsorship, educational support and livelihood assistance to the children
of beneficiaries and their families. Moreover, the Barangay Chair also said that he would revive
the free provision of certified palay and vegetable seeds to farmers.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Both female and male children work in sugarcane farms. Their ages range from 10 to 17 years
old. Poverty was the main reason why they work. Their income (or help to parents finish a
pakyaw work) contribute to their family budget and pay for their school needs. Ten out of 15
respondents also said they come from a large family (6 to 10 siblings). They clarified though that
their work on the farm is voluntary (kusang loob) and they had not been forced by their parents
to do so.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
The boys, aged 10 to 17 years old, worked in areas from 0.50 to 1 hectare in size. They work on
weekends and holidays, when extra labor is needed. One participant indicated that his child
worked three days a week, implying that this included school days. Depending on the task given,
the number of hours varied from two to eight hours.
Females, aged 10 to 17 years old, also worker under similar conditions, except that at times they
work longer hours.
The children's experience of hardship on the farms are captured in their statements below:
…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 (a)ng ating mga magulang. (I could feel
the intense heat of the sun on my back. I can feel how hard it is to work and my tiredness. What
a hard life it is when our parents do not have a land of their own to farm.)
…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 work so
that I will have money to buy things for school because, sometimes, my parents cannot afford
… gusto ko nang magpahinga, pero kailangan kong tapusin (ang aking ginagawa). At kusang loob
akong nagtanim para makatulong sa aking mga magulang at para panustos sa pag-aaral. (I
would like to rest but I need to finish the work assigned to me. I volunteered to plant sugarcane to
help my parents and to support my studies.)
…nasusugatan dahil sa dahon ng tubo (I get wounded by the leaves of the sugarcane.)
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 69
Young adult workers who themselves used to be child laborers in sugarcane farms also recalled
how difficult life was as children of poor farmers and having to work at an early age. One said,
"Sobrang hirap! Maiiyak ka talaga" (It was really difficult! you cannot help but cry). For some of
these former child laborer, they not only assumed income-earning responsibilities but they also
had to take care of their younger siblings as both of their parents were working.
The children of non-ARB families also worked in the sugar plantations. As with the children of
ARBs, they work on weekdays and holidays for four hours in the morning and three hours in the
Children’s Education
According to a school representative interviewed, many of their students came from the low
income level and because of the parents’ irregular work and unsteady and inadequate incomes,
their education is 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 not consistent for the same period.
Absenteeism remains an issue with child laborers. There are certain periods in the school year
when child laborers would result to the child dropping out altogether. According to the key
informant interviewed many of the school repeaters come from the first year students.
To address this problem, the school came up with modules designed to help students catch up
with their peers. The child laborer's progress is checked through periodic examinations.
Teachers also try to track and visit their students when they have been absent long enough. The
teachers talk to the students and parents to encourage them to continue the child's education.
In this sense, programs such as the conditional cash transfer of the government can be critical in
decreasing dropout rates in schools. Under the program, the family beneficiaries are given
monetary incentives which help defray the costs of schooling. Parents also attend Family
Development sessions (FDs) where they learn about the children's rights and laws covering child
The non-government organization, ERDA, also supports child laborers through educational
assistance and school supplies. It also partially funded a classroom that can accommodate 45
students in the area.
Children’s Health
The ARB parents claim that their children had never experienced major accident while helping
out. A few of them said that some minor ones which could not be prevented sometimes
happened. The common ailments that they had were colds, fever and flu which they themselves
treated. The barangay health center was a resource that parents usually went to for
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 70
consultation and free medicines. However, more often than not, the supply of medications was
inadequate so they had to buy the prescribed drugs themselves. Parents also claimed to have
availed of the health programs and services for their children like the free vaccination package
and the Operation Timbang.
The children working in the farm said that the work was back-breaking and the condition in the
farm was harsh. The very early schedule of reporting for work 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 being exposed to the sharp edges of the
sugarcane leaves, they also developed skin allergies and asthma. Some of them developed ulcer
from missing out on meals. One had tuberculosis (nagsuka ng dugo), and 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.
The barangay health center has program and services for infants and young children as well as
for females of reproductive age, in accordance to Department of Health (DOH) directions.
However it does not have specific programs for child laborer. The Brgy. Health Center can also
refer them to the City Health Office of local Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) to obtain medical assistance for more complicated injuries or conditions.
This limited range of services and medicines available did not seem to be an issue with the child
laborers as, according to them, they are generally healthy.
Impact of land reform on child labor
To the ABRs, the biggest contribution of the government’s land reform program was their
ownership of a piece of land. However, they found it difficult to meet the requirements of
planting sugarcane without the financial support from the government.
They said that their life as small planters did not improve in comparison to the years they spent
as laborers, since they had been working in an abandoned property, independently managing
the area that they occupied. The only difference was that in 2013, a portion was awarded to
each of them and this gave them a sense of security. According to them, their incomes, which
they derive mainly from sugarcane farming, are their main problem. The amount they received
from their produce did not increase and is still quite inadequate because the prices of farm
inputs and other operating expenses had gone higher. They are currently working hard in
strengthening their farmers’ association, the Bulad, Bonggalon, Bongkolay Agrarian Reform
Beneficiaries Association(BBBARBA) in order to derive more benefits for their members as well
as for their locality.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 71
Even before land reform, the ARBs were already involved in community governance and
barangay affairs serving as officials or leaders of local groups.
The non-ARBs saw evidence of improvement in the lives of recipients of the land reform
program. Owning and managing a farm can definitely increase a family’s income and capacity to
provide for the needs of one’s family. They have seen ARBs who were able to have their homes
constructed, buy farm equipment and venture in other income-earning activities like buying and
renting out their trucks, motorcycles and tricycles.
However, the non-beneficiaries felt so disappointed that they were excluded from the program
even if they had worked for a long time in a hacienda. It was said that people who had labored
for a long time in the farm should be prioritized in the awarding of land. They hoped that their
plight will be recognized by government and assistance will also be given.
The young adults who were former child workers said that it is okay because the individual will
own the land and will have continuous work and income.
Only one child verbalized her own perception of land reform saying: "Napakahirap pala pag
walang lupain na sinasaka [a]ng ating mga magulang."(What a hard life it is when our parents
do not have a land of their own to cultivate.)
A representative of a barangay office saw the improvement of the economic situation of a
number of ARBs. As land owners, the ARBs no longer move from farm to farm to work, have a
steady source of income, and produce and sell their own crops. As a result, they were able to
send their children to college. She said that an estimated 30 percent of those who attended
tertiary level were able to graduate from the course that they took.
Other stakeholders, such as agency representatives also affirm the positive impact of land
reforms. Apart from what the farmers mentioned, they added that the insurgency problem in
Kabankalan has been greatly minimized since the land reform program was implemented (News
reports seem to dispute this observations; seems there are still reported incidents of violence
and militarization in Negros Occidental including in Kabankalan.
However they also noted its problems. The lack of follow through support after land
redistribution resulted to mixed outcomes of the program. While other ARBs were able to
improve their incomes, others got further into debt as they had to borrow at exorbitant rates for
farm inputs. Skills training on farm management and better agricultural practices were also
needed but none were available. As a result, a considerable number of ARBs sold or mortgaged
their newly acquired lands and went back to being farm laborers.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 72
The issue of inequity that results in the poverty of many families in land reform areas is the crux
of the problem. Addressing this main concern will definitely have a discernible impact in the
lives and well-being of the working children, detailed as follows:
Enable the would-be beneficiaries to make representation to DAR for the fast tracking in
the distribution of land.
DAR needs to exert effort to follow the stipulations of the law in order to minimize
violence, militarization, and harassment of laborers.
Replicate and support the organized efforts of successful model communities where
support services are made available. Carry on the building and enhancement of
organizational and farm management skills with linkage with government, nongovernment groups and funding agencies.
With the assistance of business organizations, enable community groups to develop
innovative products from their agricultural produce to generate income for individual
families and the community.
For non-ARBs, there should be a program to assist and uplift their welfare like the
provision of decent wages as well benefits as stipulated by law should be given to them.
Moreover, they can also be involved in community income producing activities to
improve their lives including the provision of their children’s needs.
Basic services should be made available to support and enhance the children’s wellbeing.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 73
According to its 2011 municipal profile,
La Castellana, located at the foot of Mt.
Kanlaon, has a land area of 21,651
hectares. Formerly part of Pontevedra, it
became a town on January 1, 1918 by
virtue of Executive Order 101 decreed by
then Governor General Francis Burton
Harrison. It constitutes 13 barangays,
one of which is Nato.
La Castellana is classified as a first-class
municipality and can be described as an
agricultural town. Its main products are
sugar, rice and bananas. In its 2010
census, it recorded a population of Source: Wikipedia
71,013 people. Household population is at 15,204 in 2007 with 5,495 households categorized as
poor. Its poverty incidence in 2009 was 36.14 percent while its poverty threshold was a little
over PhP5,000 a month.
As far as facilities and services are concerned, the municipality has 31 elementary public and
private schools with an enrolment of 11,781 students and a complement of 327 teachers; five
public and private secondary institutions with 5,104 students enlisted and 114 faculty members,
31 accredited day care centers. The municipality also has 18 health stations with government
personnel consisting of a doctor, a dentist, six nurses, 27 midwives, one medical technologist,
two rural sanitary inspectors, 170 active barangay health workers and 15 barangay nutrition
scholars. There are also 99.43 percent of households with potable water supply, 91.79 percent
with sanitary toilets and 82.01 percent with health insurance. The town can be described as
flourishing due to the presence of the needed communications, transportation and road
infrastructures as well as business establishments.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 74
Case 11: Brgy. Nato, La Castellana (People’s Organization)
In the people’s organization or the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) association mode of
farming, the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) holders organize themselves into
cooperatives. Since the landholdings of ARBs are often small, it was deemed more productive
and profitable for them to lease these to their association which consolidates them under one
management. The members serve as the association’s board of directors and staff which
oversee the operations, while some members opt to work for wages as tenants in the
consolidated farms. Another advantage of this arrangement is the wider access to both
government and non-government credit and capacity-building support which are open only to
groups instead of individuals. Dividends are given out to members at the end of the year.
Land Reform Experience
Land reform in La Castellana started in June 1988. Since then, Department of Agrarian
Reform(DAR) was able to cover more than 10,000 hectares of the expected land reform area.
Ninety percent were owned by planters while 10 percent were foreclosed properties of
government owned and controlled financial institutions.
There were two modes of land acquisition in La Castellana:
Voluntary offer to sell (VOS) - the owners opted to sell their plantation to the government in
support of the land reform program. Five thousand hectares were distributed, allotting one
hectare each to 5,000 ARBs; and
Compulsory acquisition – the owners of these privately owned individual sugarcane farms
were compelled by DAR to surrender their properties as stipulated by the Agrarian Reform
Law. An estimated 2,000 beneficiaries were awarded by more than a thousand hectares.
Protecting Working Children as a Stance of DOLE: the Regional Representative’s Viewpoint
The results of the interview with the DOLE representative revealed that although their programs
and services are generic, ARB families are provided the needed assistance and children’s welfare
are safeguarded, being constituents of the municipality. Among the efforts that she mentioned
a. livelihood assistance given to parents of child laborers through the Kabuhayan sa mga
Magulang ng Manggagawa (KASAMA), a component of the Child Labor Program, in
coordination with the local government unit. The municipalities participating in this project
are Pontevedra, Escalante and Mandalaga. Starter kits are given to selected beneficiaries to
enable them to begin with their endeavor. The other support endeavors initiated for the
youth were: Integrated Livelihood Emergency Employment Program (ILEEP); the Youth
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 75
Entrepreneurship and Employment Management (YEEM) that provided trainings and
materials for livelihood for out of school youth and the Youth Entrepreneurship Support
(YES) that targeted college students with subjects on this topic.
b. formation of Self Reliant Organization (SRO) by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council
(PARC) to create a child worker free hacienda/barangay. To facilitate the selection of areas,
a set of criteria had been conceived. Department of Labor and Employment(DOLE) was
designated to be the implementing agency with Department of Agrarian Reform(DAR) and
Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD) as identified Council members
providing the necessary support. The components of the program included the
organizational development and improvement of the ARB communities, provision of skills in
agribusiness, promotion of compliance of the labor laws protecting children, and
establishment of partnership and alliances to strengthen and sustain what had already been
c. vigilant monitoring of trafficking activities of children as part of La Castellana’s endeavor to
protect children from syndicated efforts to recruit them as workers. The office is on the
alert during harvest and milling season when sacadas (migrant sugarcane workers) usually
arrive from other places to work in the sugarcane farms. The workers are expected to have
undergone a pre-departure orientation where their rights as workers are discussed. Those
who are below 18 years of age are required to present a permit to work by DOLE.
Piers and other entrance and exit areas are guarded to make sure that there are no children
who will be part of the workforce. In their monitoring effort, they are accompanied by the PNP
and DSWD representatives.
The Organization of the Farm Workers in Barangay Nato
In 2002, 43 farm workers became land reform beneficiaries of 38.93 hectares of sugar land
acquired through a voluntary offer to sell (VOS) from their landowner, the Trinco family. They
were awarded a mother title named after all the beneficiaries. Belonging to the first category of
beneficiaries, the 37 farm workers were given 1.003 hectares each, while those in the third
category, the six administrative staff of the former owner, were awarded 0.32 hectare each.
After the conversion of the land into smaller farms, the landowner left its full management to
the new titleholders.
The DAR oriented them about the land reform program and what they needed to know about
their new status. Then, Alter Trade Foundation Inc., a non-stock, non-profit group organized
them into a cooperative, the Hacienda Cahilamunan Trinco Farm Workers Multipurpose
Cooperative (HACATRIFWO-MPC) in 2004 to engage in the farming business. The group was
provided with skills to manage themselves and their finances as a group and become self-reliant.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 76
They were also given the needed loan for the operation of their farm from 2004 to 2013 at an
interest of14 percent. The amount of credit gradually increased yearly through time depending
on the farm plan that they submitted.
The cooperative operated until 2010. When the Cooperative Development Administration
(CDA) required them to renew their registration, they had problems submitting the necessary
reports for renewal because the officer assigned was not able to do his responsibility. They were
fined PhP30,000 for their lapse. Since they could not afford the penalty, they discontinued the
renewal of their registration.
In 2012, having seen the very satisfactory performance of the group, the DOLE selected their
organization to be a beneficiary of their grant to establish the Self Reliant Organizations
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (SRO-CARP). This was an Office-of-the-Presidentassisted program aimed to create a child-worker-free hacienda. When they were required to
present their legal papers as an organization, they could not do so because they were no longer
registered with CDA. As an option, they formed themselves into an association called the
Hacienda Cahilamunan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (HACARBA) to avail of the
program funds. They have maintained the name up to this date. This organization has also been
showcased as one of the success stories of the Land Reform Program in Negros Occidental.
The 38.93 hectare farm is cooperatively managed, with all the members involved in its
management and operations from land preparation to the milling of the sugarcane produce. A
number of agencies and offices helped the group sustain the activities that generated income
for both the association and the individual families and become what they are now--a successful
association of land reform beneficiaries.
The DAR, in addition to the orientation in 2002, helped them initially organize themselves by
building their capacities in leadership and organizational management through trainings and
When Alter Trade Foundation, Inc. came in 2004, the scope of their education widened. It
helped them by initially giving loans for the operation of the collectively managed farm and
providing technical assistance in farm and financial management as well as in diversifying their
produce like organic fertilizer, not for commercial purposes but for their own use. The
Foundation also assisted the farmers in purchasing a truck that they are now using in hauling
their harvest for milling.
With the support of Alter Trade, the cooperative/association was able to come up with policies
and procedures that guided them in the operation of their property, as well as in the division of
labor and benefits that the members got from the fruits of their labor.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 77
As earlier stated, the organization was selected in 2010 by the DOLE in partnership with DAR to
be a beneficiary of the Self Reliant Organizations Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program(SROCARP) assisted by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC) of the Office of the
President. As such, it was able to avail of trainings in entrepreneurship for meat processing,
together with livelihood assistance of PhP150,000 and the equipment needed for the
preparation of products like tocino, corned beef, and chorizo. Another PhP150,000 was given to
the association for seeds, organic fertilizers and other materials needed for farm operations
including the needed seminars on farm management.
Land Reform for the Small Planters in Individually Managed Farms
For those who came to own their land, they narrated their various experiences in acquiring and
managing their property:
Size of land being farmed
Mode of land acquisition
Management of land
1.75 hectares
Half hectare was directly sold
to them at an affordable price
by the owner, Mr. Edgardo
Jalandoni without passing
through the DAR and the 1.25
hectares were through VOS
Half hectare was directly sold
to them at an affordable price
by the owner without passing
through the DAR and the other
half was through VOS
The family managed the farm by
1 hectare
2 hectares
The owner made maximum use
of the land by selling the
sugarcane harvested from the
half hectare as standing crop to
finance the expenses for the
other half hectare
Was acquired through VOS To pay for the operational
from Mr. Jimenez in 2004.
expenses of farming, the owner
was forced to borrow from loan
providers. The amount of
PhP100,000 earned an interest
of PhP30,000 when they paid
their loan.
Although not direct beneficiaries, there were participants who rented and individually managed
these lands acquired by their parents or parents-in-law. They gave similar information as the
family owned and individually managed farms:
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 78
Size of land being farmed
Mode of land acquisition
Management of land
Half hectare
The land was awarded to her
parents by landowner, Mr.
Esteban through VOS in 2000
2 hectares
Parents-in-law acquired the
land through VOS
In order to finance the
expenses in operating the farm,
she was forced to sell one of
her carabaos
Initially, her family was just
working on a half hectare land.
When she and her husband
decided to avail of credit from
loan source, they were able to
rent and utilize the remaining
1.5 hectares.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Despite the strong enforcement of the law against hiring children for farm working by
plantations groups of CLOA holder and other advocates, there were girls and boys who work on
sugarcane farms with their parents or as individuals. Their ages range from 11 to 17 years old.
Parents of child laborers ensure that children’s studies are not adversely affected by their paid
work, and that they have adequate time for rest and recreation.
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
The CLOA holders claimed that they do not employ child laborers because it is against the law.
Their children can help them but only if they are aged 18 and above. When the hacienda was
converted into a land reform area, no child had been 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 land owners in individually managed sugarcane farms are aware of the law that
prohibits the hiring of child workers. According to them, child rights advocates in their
communities also conduct information campaigns on this. Children however can help their
parents in farm work provided that they are still able to go to school and have time for play and
recreation. Parents on their part do not compel their children to work with them. They are also
aware that they are the ones responsible for providing for the needs of the family.
Two Focus Group Discussion(FGD) participants admitted that they have children working in their
sugarcane plantation. One of them revealed that her two daughters, 14 and 11 years old, and
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 79
the other one, a 16-year-old grandson, help out in certain tasks. The girls assist in the halfhectare farm, weeding and peeling sugarcane leaves for two hours during Saturdays. They are
given snacks after finishing their task. Their school needs are always taken care of. To reinforce
her claim that their daughters are not neglecting their studies, one of the parents revealed that
her daughters are honor students. The grandson, on the other hand, lends a hand in a halfhectare sugarcane field weeding for six hours during weekends. For his effort, he is provided
snacks after performing his responsibilities, school supplies and allowance for his education
The Barangay Council members admitted that there are child workers in their area, with ages
ranging from 9 to 17 years old, though small in number. It is in the small farms where children
are seen helping out their parents during weekends and holidays. They may be related to the
planter or they may be the offspring of non-ARBs who are casual or contractual, whose labor is
very much needed under the wholesale (pakyaw) work arrangement. In this type of contract,
the laborers, including children, do not receive any benefit even those legislated by government
like the 13th month pay, social amelioration bonus, Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth.
More often than not, just like the adults, they are not provided with the protective gears
required for the tasks that they perform. It is the parents who give these but because they are
not conscious of the necessity of safeguarding their health while working, they only make
available to their children those that they can afford and usually use.
There are no child workers in big plantations because they are not permitted to work. The
owners are also careful and very particular about this issue because their reputation is at stake.
They are now very much aware of the labor laws covering the children.
The children working in the farm shared that they are working in a sugarcane farm in order to
provide for their needs in school and help defray some of their household expenses. Except for
one whose family owns the land, the rest were hired by relatives or neighbors who became
beneficiaries of the land reform program. They find the work difficult because of the exposure
to the heat of the sun that can make one sick and wounded at times. But no matter how hard
their work is, they persist in their efforts (kinakaya) in order to earn. They enjoy and find
fulfillment in being able to help their families. Except for one male child who only works from
one to three hours on Saturdays in the farm owned by an uncle, the rest of the participants go
to the farm on weekends and do their assigned tasks for a minimum of four hours to a
maximum of eight hours. The males and females working in the 0.25 to 0.50 hectare of land are
involved mainly in weeding and sowing of sugarcane. One male also included as part of his
function the cutting down of sugarcane in addition to weeding. The tasks they performed were
on pakyaw arrangement where family members work together to finish a particular task and are
paid as one group. There were children who knew the collective amount paid for what they did
but the payment for their labor was given to them as school allowance or payment for their
projects and other educational expenses. Only one of them said that her parents insisted that
she get paid what is due her for the efforts she put in "Pinaghirapan mo yan".
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 80
Among the young adults now and who used to be children working in the farm, two of the
participants indicated that their families benefitted from the land reform program. One said that
in 2000 his grandmother became a holder of a small farm while the other one was awarded land
in 2004 through their former owner’s VOS arrangement.
There were child laborers who worked for the landowner of the hacienda. Their ages then
ranged from 12 to 16 years old. There were some who reported for work when they did not
have classes while the others stopped schooling to help the family earn a living. There were
usually 10 to 15 children helping out other family members finish the contracted (pakyaw) tasks
assigned to them.
The six former male child workers helped out in weeding, cultivation, cleaning of canals, sowing
and cutting down of sugarcane, application of fertilizers and manually loading them in carts.
They would go to the farm one or two days a week. They worked from three and a half to eight
hours a day starting from as early as 6:00 a.m. up to 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. and from 1:00 to
4:00 p.m. The day’s toil earned for them from PhP100 to PhP200.
The two girls were tasked to weed, sow sugarcane, apply fertilizers and peel sugarcane leaves.
They spent only half a day doing the job usually from 6:00 to 9:30 a.m. Only one participant
indicated that she spent six days helping out in the hacienda. The amounts of PhP95 per day, or
PhP600 to 900 per month that they indicated they received were either the payment for their
individual labor or that of the family. Two of the participants who worked for an association said
that they were given working incentive and amelioration bonus while those employed by
planters of individually managed farms were only paid their salaries without providing any
benefits. All of them said that the amount they earned was used to buy food and other needs of
the family as well as their school requirements.
Children’s Education
The children are regular students currently enrolled in the grade levels that they should be in.
Some of them belong to the honor roll. Their parents provide for their school needs including
their allowances.
The parents of the child workers claimed that their sons and daughters attend their classes
regularly. They never encouraged absenteeism among their schooling children. They worked
hard to provide for the school needs of their kids in order for them to finish high school at least
because they know how important education is in improving their status and well-being. These
participants verbalized that they want them to have a better life. Two parents shared that their
children are honor students.
The ARBs claimed that their children are generally well cared for and provided their schooling
needs at least up to high school. There were two participants though, a father and a mother,
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 81
who said that they had two sons each who were not able to finish high school. The father
claimed that his sons were not interested to pursue their studies. However, some participants
revealed to the researcher as an aside that this ARB who has 11 children is quite hard up and
could not provide for his children’s educational needs. Out of embarrassment for their inability
to submit the required projects, these bright boys decided to quit school and helped the family
by working fulltime. The widowed mother disclosed that one of her sons does not have the
aptitude for schoolwork ("Di kaya ng utak; laging sumasakit ang ulo pag nag-aaral")while the
younger son stopped studying because he feared his older brother who would wait for him after
class and bully him for money to buy cigarettes.
Some members mentioned that they have children who graduated from vocational courses like
automotive diesel and computer repair courses and are already employed. Those who could
afford it or who had relatives who were willing to help them, sent their interested children to
college. Parents also saw to it that adequate supply of nutritious food is made available to their
Children’s Health
The parents said that their children are healthy and not malnourished since they are able to eat
nutritious foods. Only one parent disclosed that her son was infected by tuberculosis due to the
hard work that he did in the farm. She made sure that he received the proper treatment, so he
was able to recover from the ailment six months after continuous treatment. Even if their health
center did not have programs specifically addressing the needs of child workers or medicines in
case they would be needed, they were able to get by. The common ailments that their children
experienced through the years were colds and cough, fever, minor cuts and bruises from
working in the fields.
The children also claimed that they are generally healthy, with their weights within the normal
range. They sometimes get headache, colds and fever. Their parents bought the needed
medicines for them since they could not rely on their health center to provide these.
The children said that the small planters who had been employing them did not implement
policies that would protect their workers in general including the children. Thus, it is their
parents and not their employers who supply them with the required protective gear.
The children played and bonded with other children, mainly their classmates, when they were in
school or when they were not helping out with their responsibilities in the plantation.
Impact of land reform on child labor
The Barangay Officials acknowledged that the government’s land reform program improved the
economic status of its beneficiaries. The ARBs had children who finished college; they were able
to own a house; and some of them were able to buy tricycles which they use for service, farm
implements and rice mill.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 82
They also acknowledged that an estimated 60 percent of those awarded either sold or
mortgaged the land although it is prohibited by law. There were others who rented them out for
PhP70,000 per half hectare per cropping to raise the needed capital for planting sugarcane. This
was due to the absence of support services which DAR should have provided to get the
beneficiaries started in their farming activities, as stipulated by law.
For individually managed farms, the owners resorted to borrowing money from loan sharks for
their farm inputs and other requirements because the usurers cut the process of having to
prepare a lot or requirements and waiting for quite some time to get their loans. The downside
of this practice though was the big interest rate collected from them which they could have used
for their family’s needs or other purposes. For instance, the workers of ARBs of individually
managed farms claimed that they do not receive any benefit, even those legislated by law, in
addition to their low compensation since they are classified as contractual or casual workers.
With the difficulty that these small planters had been encountering, a barangay captain could
not help but compare the present situation to the past when they were still laborers and most
of their farm needs were given by their landlord.
In group-managed plantations, members could avail of credit and other income-generating
opportunities as well as skills development and upgrade in order to uplift the economic status
and strengthen the organizational management capability of their members.
One of them also mentioned that an estimated 10 percent of small planters were able to buy
the farms of other ARBs thus expanding their ownership to 10 to 20 more hectares because they
were able to raise the needed amount coming from family members working abroad or from
their children who finished college and are already working.
The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer (MSWDO) acknowledged the
improvement in the lives of the beneficiaries now that their status was transformed from being
farm laborers to becoming land owners. The ARBs have become producers and do earn regular
income. With their compliance to the established policies of the non-government organization
(NGO) (Alter Trade) supporting them, the beneficiaries were provided capital assistance (credit)
and trainings such as by the Department of Agriculture (DA), together with other NGOs that
provided them with certified seeds, and strengthened their capacities in farm management.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DOLE gave technical assistance and linked their
group to funding agencies.
The ARBs said that their status did not change; only their working arrangement did. The land
areas of the farms they are now tilling are smaller in sizes. 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
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 83
the conduct of other activities like trainings as well as medical missions to improve their welfare
were provided by the more benevolent ones.
The small planters only give them their basic salaries without any benefit allotted for the
workers even if they have worked for them for a long time. The collected Social Amelioration
Fund (SAF) from government intended for their hired workers are not distributed by many of
these planters. Some of the participants verbalized their feeling of helplessness because they do
not know where to turn to seek for assistance. They also have a lot of questions about their
status but they do not know whom to address them for answers. But since they are not
organized, their concerns have not been heard by appropriate government agencies which can
help them do something about their situation. The non-beneficiaries saw the benefits of land
reform to those who were awarded the land and made maximum use of what were given them.
They became more financially stable. Their small houses improved into bigger and sturdier ones.
There were those who were able to buy vehicles like tricycles, jeeps or pick-up as well as
farming equipment and invest in a rice mill. They were able to support the education of their
children even up to the collegiate level in a private institution.
The young adults who used to be child laborers and whose families became ARBs in 2002 said
that the land reform program benefitted them. In having their land collectively managed, they
received weekly pay. Their incomes increased which enabled them to meet the family’s needs.
Owning the land ensured them of a definite and regular income. This gave them a feeling of
security which they did not feel when they were only laborers tilling the land for a landowner.
For the individually managed farm, they said that they need to work doubly hard so that they
will be able to meet the needs of their families. They said that there are now fewer child
workers in Nato. The tasks of the working children were clearly not as much as those in other
barangays where most of the work done by adults were also carried out by the children. The
presence and the awareness campaign of the children’s rights advocate in the community is
considered a factor in the lessening of the number of working children. HACARBA, the ARBs’
association, for instance, said that it is the policy of their group not to hire children.
According to the ARBs who are members of the association, the land reform program helped a
lot in uplifting the lives of their families as well as keeping peace and order in their community.
Previously, from the landowner, they got a monthly salary of PhP2,160 with all the benefits
provided for by law and additional loans from him/her during emergency situations. During the
lean months (tiempo muerto) of July to September, their income decreases because they only
worked three days a week. By being part owners of a collectively managed sugarcane farm, their
earnings increased to PhP4,800 a month and all the benefits provided for by law are also given.
In addition, supplementary funds are given to the members to help meet the needs of the
family. Termed consumo, each member is allotted credit of PhP5,000 for rice supply in case of
need. If s/he has difficulty paying back on time, the loan will be deducted from the member's
dividend (PhP40,000) coming from the sugar proceeds which is given every year to each of
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 84
them. The SAF of PhP15,000 is divided among the members based on his/her salary while the
patronage refund of PhP40,000 is distributed to them on the number of shares that they have in
the association.
They are a lot happier now unlike before when they were just farm workers since they were
usually afraid (nangingilag) of their landlord. Their confidence in themselves improved, seeing
the growth of their group’s resources. Their feeling of security was enhanced with their
awareness that they can rely on their association when emergencies occur. Furthermore, their
sense of responsibility was boosted by their strict adherence to the policies and procedures
which they came up with and meeting their obligations on time which is each member’s
They claimed that their current income from working in the farm can sustain the daily needs of
the family including the educational expenses of the children even until college for some of
them. This was made possible with the support that they received from both the government
(GOs) and NGOs, whose trust they earned due to their performance. They were able to fulfill
their loan obligations to the credit facility by carrying on farm operations and other incomegenerating endeavors as well as putting to heart what they learned in the values
formation/education sessions. An insight that they got from their long experience was that it is
easier to improve their economic status and well-being when they work as a group rather than
as individuals because agencies, both GOs and NGOs, are willing to trust and help them in their
The first problem in the implementation is the law itself. Unlike the Agrarian Reform Law during
the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos, where only tenanted rice lands are
included, the CARP coverage was too broad. It included all agricultural lands regardless of the
produce, area classification and types of ownership. Changing policies, procedures and practices
may be helpful to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in program implementation. However,
the constant amendments or revisions could unsettle the people working in the field. The DAR
employees had to always be alert to new directives and changes in the implementing rules and
regulations and systems and procedures issued every so often or almost weekly. Members of
the staff had difficulty keeping abreast with these modifications and absorbing them. They were
put in situations where it was hard to answer questions or give needed information to would-be
beneficiaries when they themselves were not sure if what they previously knew was still
applicable or had already been revised.
One example cited was when a new Secretary was assigned to the Department, he directed the
concerned office to come up with a new set of forms for data gathering, replacing the old ones
and orienting them about the contents. After a short period of time, he was replaced by
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 85
another one who had a different perspective on what and how to implement the program. The
new forms which cost the Department a substantial amount for printing were not utilized.
Another problem is the implementers themselves. The Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer
(MARO0 said that there were DAR staff do not know their work but try to perform their job (di
alam ang trabaho, pero gumagawa). Others know their work but remain idle (alam ang trabaho
pero walang ginagawa). Others do not know their work and yet remain idle (di na alam ang
trabaho, di pa gumagawa); and others know their work, perform their job but collect (alam ang
trabaho, gumagawa at nangongolekta).
Although the economic status of the ARBs changed from laborer to farm owner, their outlook
remained as that of a 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
There were landowners who resisted the implementation of the land reform program and used
their resources to prevent its implementation by filing cases in court, instigating violence and
hiring of goons to stop the compulsory acquisition of their hacienda.
There were technical problems in the requirements hampering the processing of CLOAs like the
absence of clear description of the boundaries of the land in the title.
Similarly, the attitude of line agencies’ representatives sometimes hindered the smooth
implementation of the program. The Registry of Deeds could just declare that the title had been
lost so the processing of the papers for that particular case would not proceed. The Land Bank of
the Philippines could upgrade the valuation of low cost farm lands in order to get a commission
from the sale. Other agencies involved in the implementation of the program are the Land
Management Sector and the Land Registration Authority.
There was a case when the assistance of NGOs with a different viewpoint on land reform caused
conflict between the Department and the farmers who were not awarded (non ARBs). According
to the MARO, the reasons for their exclusion from the program were clear to this set of tillers.
He mentioned three types of farm workers: the regulars, the seasonal and the squatters,
workers who are neither regular nor seasonal. The preferred beneficiaries were those awarded
the land as stipulated.
Several information campaigns and community assemblies had been conducted in the areas
covered to explain who the qualified recipients are, the rules and process for registration and
the needed documents. The list of possible awardees as well as other important data were also
posted in strategic locations in the barangay. Those excluded from the list were asked to go to
their office to file an appeal for inclusion.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 86
Provincial Profile
The early inhabitants of the Davao
provinces, particularly the areas now called
the province of Davao del Sur, are the
Bagobo-Guianggas who occupied the places
at the foot of Mt. Apo, the B’laans of
Hagonoy Valley, the Manobos in Malita and
Jose Abad Santos, and other tribes. These
tribes are believed to belong to the second
wave of Indonesians who came to the
island from Southeast Asia between 1,000
and 2,500 years ago.
The province of Davao del Sur was created
by Congress on May 8, 1967 by virtue of
Source: Wikipedia
Republic Act No. 4867. The law was fully
implemented on July 1, 1967. Davao del Sur is comprised of 10 municipalities with Digos City
named as the provincial capital.
The town of Matanao was established in 1957 from barangays which were formerly under the
Municipality of Bansalan. It has a total land area of 22,661 hectares. It has 12,491 hectares of
agricultural land. The municipality has 2,274 hectares planted with sugarcane and the volume of
production is 61.330 metric ton (MT) per year. It is a third-class municipality with 33 barangays
under it.
Matanao has a total population of 51,537 (male – 52.25% and female – 47.75%). It has a total of
10,713 households residing in its 33 barangays. The employment rate is 87.6 percent and the
average monthly income is PhP5,234. Poverty threshold is 65.60 percent. The municipality’s
OTOP (One Town One Product) is mango.
The town has a total number of 85 schools. Its literacy rate is 89.78 percent and the survival rate
in elementary level is 98.47 percent and 90.67 percent in high school. There are no vocational
schools in Matanao.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 87
Government and private institutions implement livelihood programs and services in the
municipality. Livelihood programs include carabao, cattle and goat dispersal projects
implemented with the assistance from Department of Agriculture (DA).
In family-based farming system, the ARBs and their families directly managed their farms i.e.,
worked on the land themselves and hired additional laborers only if necessary. In Brgy. San Jose,
many Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) opted for inter- or multi-cropping to maximize the
productivity of their lands. This is particularly true for those with landholdings ranging from
0.25 to a little over one hectare. Farmers either planted other crops during sugarcane off-season
or shifted altogether to other crops such as bananas, mangoes, coconut or corn.
Barangay Profile
Barangay San Jose was created on August 4, 1958. The total land area of the barangay is 523
hectares covering seven puroks. The agricultural land area is 356 hectares. The area planted
with sugarcane is 350 hectares and the volume of production is 12.9 MT per year. As of May
2014,it has a total population of 1,242 (male- 637; female- 605) from the 270 households.
The main sources of income are farming, employment and business. Among those in farming,
the major crops include sugarcane, banana (lakatan) and mango. Many residents of Brgy. San
Jose are also engaged in livestock farming such as pigs, cow and chicken. At least 50 percent of
the total population has chickens, and 30 to 35 percent of the households raise pigs which they
sell for additional income.
Most of the people also have vegetable gardens or backyard gardens. The vegetables grown are
mainly for the consumption of the family. Some residents, mostly women, have attended
several kinds of trainings for livelihood such as dressmaking and soap making. They are also
involved in micro-finance group and have loans which they use as capital for putting up a
Public infrastructure in the community includes a day care center, elementary school, barangay
hall, and barangay stage. The means of transportation in the barangay include motorcycle and
tricycle. The barangay has 0.065 km. concrete roads, 15.44 km. gravel base roads and 5.60 km.
dirt roads. The main source of water supply in the area is from deep wells and Jetmatic pumps.
The secondary sources of water are springs and rivers. Majority of the residents have their own
Jetmatic pumps.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 88
The barangay has one elementary school building. Enrolment rate for elementary is 87 percent.
It has a record of no dropouts and the National Achievement Test (NAT) result is 82.83 percent.
The barangay literacy rate is 88 percent.
Average monthly crime rate is 0 percent and only petty crimes are reported.
Public infrastructures include one elementary school (Alfredo Eugenio Sr. Elem. School)
composed of six buildings; one Barangay Gym with Basketball Court and stage; one Barangay
Hall; one Barangay Health Center; one Baragany Day Care Center; seven Purok Centers; one
Barangay Tanod Outpost; and seven (7) kilometer all weather barangay roads. The means of
transportation in the barangay include motorcycle (Skylab) and tricycle (motorcab, pedicab). The
main sources of income are farming, employment and business. Among those in farming, the
major crops include sugarcane, banana (lakatan), mango, coconut, rice and vegetables.
The Barangay Daycare Center has one Daycare worker and the elementary school is manned by
eight teachers including the principal. Enrolment rate for elementary is 87 percent. It has a
record of no dropouts and the National Achievement Test (NAT) result is 82.83 percent. The
barangay literacy rate is 88 percent.
The main source of water supply in the area is from deep wells and Jetmatic pumps. The
secondary sources of water are springs and rivers. Majority of the residents have their own
Jetmatic pumps.
Land Reform Experience
According to the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO), the implementation of land reform
in Matanao has been smooth. Most of the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of Brgy. San
Jose, Matanao are into small-scale family farming. Farm sizes distributed to ARBs range from
0.25 or one-fourth hectare to a little more than one hectare. These lands used to be part of
private agricultural lands owned by individuals with small to medium landholdings which were
voluntarily offered for agrarian reform due to unpaid loans, the owner’s inability to till the land
or simply compliance to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) retention limit of
five hectares for landowners. Many of the lands distributed were obtained by the government
from banks where they have been mortgaged by its owners. Defaulted payments resulted to
these lands being foreclosed by the banks, which in turn sold these lands to the government
under the voluntary offer to sell mode of land reform. There was one case however, where the
son of the original landowner convinced the ARBs to give him a special power of attorney to
manage their newly-granted lands. This in effect gave the son control over the management of
the farms while the ARBs became tenants in their own lands.
In accordance with the law, the land title will be transferred to the ARBs after the full payment
of the land acquired. The payment scheme – how much to pay and when, payment channels –
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 89
depends whether the land is compensable by the state bank, the Land Bank of the Philippines
(LBP), or not. For the former, the processing of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards(CLOAs)
and issuance of real property title is facilitated by Department of Agrarian Reform(DAR) and
payment is posted through the LBP. The beneficiaries are expected to pay LBP in 30 annual
amortizations at six percent interest per annum. According to the ARBs, they have already paid
20 years, so only ten more years to go. For 0.50 hectares the payment rate is PhP6,000 per
year; it is PhP50,000 per year for one hectare of land. At the time of the research, the titles of
the land acquired by the ARBs are still with the LBP because they have not yet fully paid the
In the case of non-compensable lands, the ARBs pay directly to the original owner of the land.
The ARBs and former landowners also set the other payment details.
The small size of the farms enable the ARB farmers to manage their lands by themselves. Their
workforce is often composed of family members and relatives; some hire workers. The
participation of children in farm work is generally regarded as part of the children’s training on
managing farms as they are expected to own and operate their own farms in the future. The
land was planted solely with sugarcane when it was covered by CARP in 1986; now it is also
planted with mango trees, corn, coconut and bananas which are inter-cropped with sugarcane.
In this way, land use is maximized and farmers have income all-year round, not just during
sugarcane harvest season. This intercropping is important because sugarcane is dependent on
rainfall thus vulnerable to erratic weather, or to droughts induced by the cyclical occurrence of
the El Niño.
Problems Encountered
For the ARBs, the problem they usually encountered is the lack of capital for farm inputs. They
resort to borrowing money from loan sharks or selling their livestock to meet the farm expenses.
The cost of sugarcane production on a 0.25 hectare farm was estimated at PhP7,000 per year.
Expenses include land preparation, planting, weeding, fertilizer, pesticides, trucking or hauling of
sugar cane from farm to the milling station. The average yield is 17 tons of sugarcane which is
approximately valued at PhP19,000, depending on the price of the sugar. The gross income is
shared by the owner and miller or Central Azucarera at 40/60 in favour of the miller. The gross
income of the ARBs is approximately PhP12,000 per year.
Related to this, many ARBs said they are unable to pay their annual amortizations because of
financial constraints and also lack of knowledge on the processes of amortization payment. This
was also the observation of the PARO who recognizes this is partly a gap in their operations. The
information campaign according to him has been poor. A number of ARBs have not yet paid
their real property taxes, because they have not visited the assessor’s office to register their
CLOA. Thus, the land is still registered to the old land owner.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 90
It has been assumed that the transfer of ownership and provisions of secured rights to the
farmers would lead to higher production. On the contrary, the price of the sugar is dictated by
the miller. The schedule for hauling the harvest is beyond their control. If the farmers are not
prioritized, then the delay in milling the sugarcane reduces the production output.
Though land reform was verified to be a necessary condition to improve production efficiency, it
is not a sufficient assurance to attain higher production. Further, the 60/40 sharing of sugar in
favor of the miller leaves the farmer on a losing scale of returns. They feel that they are being
short-changed because they do not have control in any of the milling processes from weighing
to the packing of the refined sugar. They are only given the final picul sugar per ton cane (PSTC)
without any means of verifying if the information was accurate or was manipulated.
Given the state of their production, the ARBs expressed that they are not organized to raise
their standard of living as a sector and as a community in Matanao. “Kanya-kanyang kayod
lang” (We work individually).Many of them resorted to intercropping. The farmer who lost in
the sugarcane production shifted to mango farming where the sharing of income is 70/30 in
favour of the owner. The 30 percent goes to the partner (tagapag-alaga) who does the
spraying, harvesting and selling of the mango.
Support from the government
As stated in Chapter IX, Section 35 of RA 6657, the Office of Support Services was created to
provide general support and coordinative services in the implementation of the program. These
include infrastructure development, public works projects, credit facilities, assistance in the
identification of ready markets for agricultural produce, development of cooperative
management skills through training, among others.
However, the focus group discussion (FGD) participants expressed that the government has not
provided them any assistance. They access credit from individuals who charge them with
interest. They do not know of any organization which can provide support for their farm
This was confirmed by the PARO, that indeed, DAR had not really improved the condition of the
beneficiaries with regard their economic situation. The support services component of the
program tended to be weak, and that only around 35 percent of the ARBs benefitted. Some
foreign assisted initiatives like solar power projects were not sustainable. Poor sustainability of
the projects were aggravated by bureaucratic processes in terms of who proposes the project,
funding source, budget allocation, implementation by the line agencies and monitoring by the
Local Government Units (LGUs).
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 91
Support from NGOs/Cooperatives
The United Sugarcane Planters of Davao (USPD) was organized by sugarcane planters in 1980.
They organized themselves because of the unfair practices in Davao Sugar Central, Inc. where
planters always ended up short-changed from their sugarcane deliveries to the mill. In order to
protect the interest of its members inside the mill, they installed personnel in key stages of the
milling process. The purpose was to ensure that information from the initial mill process at the
weighing scale to the final stage of packing the refined sugar product was accurate. From being
a non-stock, non-profit association, it evolved into a marketing cooperative, then into a multipurpose cooperative. It provided a wide array of services to its members such as sugarcane
financing, marketing, trucking and tractor services, among others. Ninety percent of its
members are small sugarcane planters owning farm areas of three hectares or below.
Unfortunately, no ARBs from Brgy. San Jose avail of this support from the USPD, simply because
they are not members of the cooperatives.
Current Child Labor Situation
General Profile of Child Laborers
Both ARBs and non-ARB farmers stated that they have children who had (or still are) worked in
sugarcane farms, regardless of gender. The ages of children who work in the sugarcane farms
range from 12 to 17 years old. All of them are in school. They work in the farm during vacation
or weekends. The reasons for working in the farms include their desire to contribute for the
family’s expenses, to meet their school expenses and “pambaon,” (allowance) and to be with
friends who are also working in the sugarcane farm. One of the children also said, “gusto nako
makabatid ang kalisod sa panginabuhi sa ginikanan” (I wanted to experience the hardships of
my parents in making a living).
Children’s Work in Sugarcane Farms
The children are usually involved in the following activities in the sugarcane farm: cleaning the
area, weeding, preparing planting materials, sowing sugar cane, applying fertilizer, cutting down
sugarcane, peeling sugarcane leaves, and piling cane points. Occasionally, they do errands for
their parents.
In terms of compensation, the children get the same rate as that of adults for the same tasks
performed. The payment ranges from PhP120 to 130 per day with meals. If no food is provided,
they are paid PhP130-150. Their favorite task is piling up sugarcane because they are paid based
on the number of piles they are able to do. A pile of 30 canes is paid PhP2.50 and a child worker
could get as much as P300 per day. Some of these children were able to use portions of their
income to acquire their own mobile phones or play video games in internet shops.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 92
The working condition in the field was described by the children as very hot due to intense heat
from the sun and suffocating condition under the sugarcane plants. This is aggravated by the
clothing they wear to protect themselves while working such as long-sleeved shirts, caps or
bonnets and masks. They often felt feverish and very dizzy at the end of their working day.
Despite the hardships, the children said that they enjoy their work because they do it with
friends and other people their age. They added that it is also better than staying at home doing
nothing particularly during school vacations.
Children’s Education
There is a high level of awareness on the existing policies for the protection of the rights of
children among the parents, schools, LGU officials and the children themselves. Regarding child
labor, the community constituents are aware that children should be in school and not in the
farm. They attribute this awareness to ERDA’s presence in the community.
However, children who have dropped out of school were also found working in the sugarcane
farms. According to some study participants, these are often children who have no interest in
going to school. One factor identified to de-motivate children from studying was their lack of
school materials, including uniforms and pambaon (allowance)– and in many cases, this was due
to the constrained family budget to meet educational expenses of the children
Children’s Health
The usual illnesses suffered by child workers are cough and colds, ulcer, minor wounds and skin
rashes due to allergic reactions or scratches from the leaves of sugarcane plants.
According to the provincial health nurse, one of the key informants interviewed for the case
study, there were no cases of child illnesses, injuries or accidents related to farm work from
January to December 2014. Data available show that in this period, children 10-17 years old
from San Jose consulted the health center for abdominal pain, punctured wound, respiratory
ailment, dental check-up – all not related t their work. There was also one child who came to the
health center to request a medical certificate which was required for his transfer to a private
Other information
Child workers reported that they have time for play and recreation even if they are engaged in
paid work. Some of them said they get together with their friends to play basketball and
computer after they finish their tasks in the fields.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 93
All the children interviewed and who participated in the focus group discussion want to finish
their studies and help their families. They aspire to become teachers, flight attendants, police
officers and engineers.
Impact of land reform on child labor
The welfare of children is closely tied to that of their families, and whatever benefits their
households could gain from being ARBs would also benefit children in the long run. The
experience of land reform in Matanao was mixed: while some were able to manage their lands
to productivity, many others were constrained by their lack of financial, knowledge and skill
capital to maximize the lands awarded to them. Some of the positive changes in the situation of
ARBs since they were awarded their land included more control of what to plant in the fields
(intercropping instead of monoculture of sugarcane) and increase in incomes. Not only were
they able to build stronger houses for their families and acquire household and livelihood
materials, but they have money to support their children’s education so that child labor is no
longer a necessity for the household. On the other hand, family-based farming did not work very
well with the latter group. They mortgaged or leased the lands awarded to them back to the
original landowners or to the more successful ARBs, while they worked for wages as tenants.
What could have helped, according to all stakeholders interviewed, were support programs on
credit and capacity building, among others, but this remained a largely unfulfilled provision of
the CARP in Matanao. In this case, the economic situation of the ARBs did not improve
substantially enough to change the conditions that encouraged child labor in the first place.
If there was more awareness on children’s rights, especially their right to education in contrast
to their engagement in paid labor, it was mostly due to the efforts of non-government
organizations operating in the area. The child-focused non-government organization Educational
Research Development Assistance Foundation (ERDA) in particular was cited to have
contributed significantly to this.
Relationship of ARBs to the Owner
The ARBs have no contact with the former landowner. They gathered that the land was already
transferred to the children heir who did not settle the mortgage obligations of their parents in
the bank. Thus, the property was foreclosed and the bank sold it to the government through the
VOS program. It was the bank who identified the possible ARBs for the land it acquired. This
made the ARBs happy to the dismay of the heirs of the lot.
Farm Operations
Before the land was distributed, the ARBs were regular laborers in the sugarcane farms. They
earned PhP6.00 per day for whatever tasks they performed in the farm. At present, the payment
ranges from PhP130 to PhP150 per day, depending on the task they do. For non-beneficiaries,
payment depends on the generosity of the landowner or the ARB.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 94
The tasks include weeding, planting, applying fertilizers, harvesting, piling cane points and
Their daily wages are collected weekly.
ARBs in Matanao generally, have not benefited from the land reform program of the
government. The quality of life is still below the poverty line. Being a small barangay, having a
total households of 270 with a total population of 1,242, one could easily pinpoint who among
the ARBs have improved their quality of life and those who did not somehow rise above their
poor family condition.
Despite the very small farm size (0.25 to 1.2 has) they were able to acquire, some ARBs were
able to maximize the production of their land by inter- or multi-cropping, tapped possible source
of capital despite the exorbitant interest, and engaged other members of the family in the
production including their children.
However, the ARBs whose quality of life is still poor are those who mortgaged their land to other
ARBs or individuals who are capable of maximizing the use of the land. This could be attributed
to their unawareness or the refusal to go into the rigor of farm production or the lack of
knowledge as to who can help them in providing farm inputs.
The small scale family farming mode of land reform is merely a dip to the perpetration of child
labor in sugarcane industry in San Jose, Matanao. This is attributed to the very small size of land
given to ARBs and their practice of multiple cropping. Moreover, the prominence of ERDA in
monitoring the school attendance of children made them very difficult to engage in labor
activities in the community. Thus, children were able to work in the sugarcane farm during
summer vacation or weekends only. Further, with DAR PARO’s admission of their limitation in
terms of the CARP implementation, this type of land reform mode is not usually monitored or
tracked in terms of their support services to be provided.
Based on the FGD and key informants interview, the research team recommends the following:
Formal organization of the beneficiaries. The ARBs of San Jose, Matanao hope that a
community organizer will be fielded in the community in order to formally organize the
farmers. This will enable them to assist each other, collectively come up with solutions to
the problems they encounter, and will have the legal personality to network with other line
agencies and civic organizations who can provide them technical and financial support.
Construction of irrigation system. Sugarcane farming in Matanao is dependent on rainfall.
Thus, they are able to start planting during the rainy season which is only once a year. This
renders them idle for the other months of the year. Much as they wanted to diversify the
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 95
use of their land by planting other crops, only sugarcane can stand the dry season. They
hope that DAR will extend their support in terms of providing irrigation in the area.
Coordination of government organizations (GOs) and non-government organizations
(NGOs) in the area. DAR hopes that NGOs, i.e. ERDA and others, coordinate with them, so
that they can complement the interventions they provide in the community.
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 96
ABKs In-depth Baseline Study Report Series (2012, December). Quezon City UP, Diliman: UP Social Action
Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (UPSARDF).
Agrarian violence claiming farmers’ lives in Negros. PCIJ: Governance. (2006, May 19). Retrieved from
Barangay Dulao Profile
Carcamo, Dennis. (2013, June 27). DAR distributes 500 hectares of land in Negros Occidental.
Phil star.Retrieved from www.philstar.com/nation/2013/06/27/958900/dar...land- negrosoccidental
Catandaan Barangay Profile, prepared by barangay council of Catandaan
Chapter IX, Section 35 of RA 6657
Child Fund, n.d., ABK3 LEAP Updates
City of Bago Socio-Economic Profile
DAR Region 4A Regional Profile retrieved fromhttp://www.dar.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_
Documentation of Product Development Processes in Selected MFIs: United Sugarcane Planters Of
Davao Savings And Creditcooperative (Uspd-Scc) A Case Study. Prepared for theMicrofinance
Council of the Philippines, Inc. With funding from theInterchurch Organization for Development
Co-operation (ICCO)
Domingo, Jimmy A. (2007, February 9). Philippines: Extra-judicial killings: Violence against the
activists. Retrieved from www.landaction.org/spip.php?article26
Japa, Lj Q. (2007, July 29). The sad plight of many an agrarian reform beneficiary. Phil Star.
Retrieved from www.philstar.com/agriculture/8989/sad-plight-many-agrarian-reform...
Lian Barangay Profile, prepared by barangay council of Lian
Masculino, Glazyl Jane Marie Y. (2013, June 20). DAR gives out P72.9M to farmers. Watchmen Daily
Journal. Retrieved from www.watchmendaily.com/news/dar-gives-out-p72-9m-to-farmers
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 97
Mayuga, Jonathan L. (2014). CARP blamed for escalating violence
in Pampanga, Negros Occidental.Nation.
Nasugbu Profile retrieved fromhttp://www.batangas.gov.ph/index.php/about-us/1st-district/nasugbu
Sunstar.(2014, June 13). . Premature sale of land under agrarian reform prohibited. Retrieved from:
Ombion, Karl G. and Azue, Ranie S. (2005, October 16-22). After Luisita, now it’s Sugarlandia: Negros
farmers groups demand similar SDO cancellation. Bulatlat Alipato Publications.Retrieved from
bulatlat.com/news/5-36/5-36-sugar.htm Cached
Ombion, Karl G. (n.d). Negros execs make CARP a hopeless case. Bulatlat.com / Cobra-Ans. Retrieved
from www.bulatlat.com/news/3-9/3-9-carp.html
Ombion, Karl G. (2004, December 5-11). Danding lords over 11 haciendas in Negros.
Bulatlat.Retrieved from bulatlat.com/news/4-44/4-44-danding.html
Ombion, Karl G. (2004, September 12-18). Violence Mars land reform implementation
in Negros. Bulatlat. Retrieved from www.bulatlat.com/ne ws/4-32/4-32-negros.html
Provincial Profile of Negros Occidental. (2012). Official website of the province of Negros Occidental.
Retrieved from http://www.negros-occ.gov.ph/
Regional CARP situationer retrieved from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/Z3UojNN3SrDdtcKae
Sabangan, Annie Ruth. (2008, June 10). CARP fails to end farmers' woes in rural RP. GMANews.TV.
Retrieved from www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/100310/news/specialreports/carp...
Talisay City Socio-Economic Profile
UP Social Action Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (UPSARDF) (2014).Occupational Safety and
Health (OSH) and Hazardous Work of Children in Sugarcane Farms. Quezon City UP, Diliman:
Yap, DJ. (2013, June 27). 1,000 Negros farmers given land and credit. Philippine Daily
Inquirer.Retrieved from: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/434247/1000-negros-farmers-given-landand-credit#ixzz333VJi05M
Yap, DJ. (2013, February 21). ‘Hayaan mo, Nay’: Dorita Vargas’ dream of owning land still a dream.
Philippine DailyInquirer.Retrieved from opinion.inquirer.net/47383/hayaan-mo-nay
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 98
http://www.microfinancecouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Documentation-of-Product-DevtUSPD.pdf - Documentation of Product Development Processes in Selected MFIs - UNITED
http://www.emb.gov.ph/portal/Portals/17/anthony/Padada%20River%20-%20DASUCECO.pdf- DAVAO
Land Reform Implementation in Selected Sugarcane Farms and Its Implications on Child Labor
Page 99

Similar documents

1.79MB - ABK3 LEAP


More information