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July 2013

Agrarian Law and Social Legislation

On Chapter 10 of Landowners Rights (Hernandez et al.): Special Areas of Concern

Presented by:
QUIDIP, Noelen
RET, Kierk

Section 40 of Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Law (CARL), deals with the special areas of concern in the operation of the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program (CARP). It provides that these areas of concern are integral part of the CARP and sets
forth principles to be observed in dealing with matters regarding these special areas.
It must be noted that the authors of the book did not provide any commentaries on Section 40.
As such, so as not to render the paper as a mere codal recital, the writers are constrained to pose
questions or opinions on the matter.
SECTION 40. Special Areas of Concern. As an integral part of the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program, the following principles in these special areas of concern shall be observed:
(1) Subsistence Fishing. Small fisherfolk, including seaweed farmers, shall be assured of
greater access to the utilization of water resources.
(2) Logging and Mining Concessions. Subject to the requirement of a balanced ecology
and conservation of water resources, suitable areas, as determined by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in logging, mining and
pasture areas, shall be opened up for agrarian settlements whose beneficiaries shall
be required to undertake reforestation and conservation production methods. Subject
to existing laws, rules and regulations, settlers and members of tribal communities
shall be allowed to enjoy and exploit the products of the forest other than timber
within the logging concessions.

(3) Sparsely Occupied Public Agricultural Lands. Sparsely occupied agricultural lands of
the public domain shall be surveyed, proclaimed and developed as farm settlements
for qualified landless people based on an organized program to ensure their orderly
and early development.
Agricultural land allocations shall be made for ideal family-size farms as
determined by the PARC. Pioneers and other settlers shall be treated equally in every
Subject to the prior rights of qualified beneficiaries, uncultivated lands of the
public domain shall be made available on a lease basis to interested and qualified
parties. Parties who will engage in the development of capital-intensive, traditional or
pioneering crops shall be given priority.
The lease period, which shall not be more than a total of fifty (50) years, shall
be proportionate to the amount of investment and production goals of the lessee. A
system of evaluation and audit shall be instituted.
Agricultural lands are land(s) devoted to agricultural activity xxx and not classified as mineral, forest,
residential, commercial or industrial land.

A perusal of the first paragraph of Section 40 (3) would readily reveal that the provision is only
applicable to public agricultural lands and not privately owned agricultural lands the latter being the
very focus of the CARP and is thus, not treated as a special area of concern. However, in the same
paragraph, it is stated that public agricultural lands shall be developed into farm settlements for
qualified landless people. The question may be asked: Who are the qualified landless people?
The writers believe that the phrase pertains to those who are entitled to be beneficiaries of the CARP.
While it may be argued that RA 6657 refers to those intended beneficiaries of the CARP as qualified
beneficiaries, and that the lawmaker would have had used the term had he intended the qualified
beneficiaries to also have an entitlement to sparsely occupied public agricultural lands, to hold
otherwise would be more in consonance with the supposed purpose of the law, that is, to distribute
agricultural lands, whether private or public, to farmers and regular farmworkers and to those who
actually till the land. Also, the earlier argument would render the law defective in that it would then
carry with it a provision that is remote from its subject.
The second paragraph of this section seems to recognize the rights of the original settlers of the public
land. The question, however, is whether the recognition is without regard whether the settlers are
authorized by law to occupy the land or not.

Paragraph (c) of Section 3 of RA 6657
The third paragraph contemplates a scenario where there is an excess of public agricultural land vis--
vis the number of CARP beneficiaries. In the event that such situation occurs, the subsection provides
that the lands shall be leased, not distributed, to interested parties (probably those unqualified for CARP
benefits) who shall undertake the development of the land. The purpose of this mandate, the writers
surmise, is to promote the development of the land and avert idleness of such lands.
(4) Idle, Abandoned, Foreclosed and Sequestered Lands. Idle, abandoned, foreclosed
and sequestered lands shall be planned for distribution as home lots and family-size
farmlots to actual occupants. If land area permits, other landless families shall be
accommodated in these lands.
(5) Rural Women. All qualified women members of the agricultural labor force must be
guaranteed and assured equal right to ownership of the land, equal shares of the
farms produce, and representation in advisory or appropriate decision-making
(6) Veterans and Retirees. In accordance with Section 7 of Article XVI of the
Constitution, landless war veterans and veterans of military campaigns, their surviving
spouse and orphans, retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the
Integrated National Police (INP), returnees, surrenderees, and similar beneficiaries
shall be given due consideration in the disposition of agricultural lands of the public
(7) Agriculture Graduates. Graduates of agricultural schools who are landless shall be
assisted by the government, through the DAR, in their desire to own and till
agricultural lands.