‘Arendo’ System Rampant in Negros

If “pakyao” (piece-rate) system is rampant in most sugar farms, “arendo” or leasehold system is becoming rampant in areas covered by the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

BY KARL G. OMBION
Bulatlat

If “pakyao” (piece-rate) system is rampant in most sugar farms, “arendo” or leasehold system is becoming rampant in areas covered by the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

This was the finding of the three-day independent fact finding mission in several agrarian reform areas undertaken by several farmers’ and farmworkers’ organizations led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)-Bago.

KMP Negros spokesperson Rolando David, in a press conference Oct. 15, said that in the areas of Escalante City, Manapla, Victorias City and Bago City, the “arendo” system is increasingly taking over more than 1,000 hectares of lands of the agrarian reform beneficiaries.

In these areas, David said, agrarian reform beneficiaries are being forced, by the lack of support from the government and lack of capital, to lease their lands to the “arendadors��, mostly sugar planters, and some former owners of the lands awarded them through the CARP.

“This did not only affirm the result of the CARP review made earlier by the provincial government, but proved further the retrogression of agrarian reform beneficiaries to being landless; and this could not be blamed entirely on them but on the government’s program, which does not have provisions and the determination to support agrarian reform beneficiaries all the way towards becoming productive and self-reliant,” David said.

In Bago, the problem is more pronounced as it is the agrarian reform office personnel who are facilitating the transaction with “arendadores” (leaseholders); they promise the beneficiaries that they would be given P20,000 per hectare if they agree to offer their lands to the “arendador”, David alleged.

He said the conditions of agrarian reform beneficiaries are much harder now because they no longer have “amos” (bosses) from whom they can ask or beg for advances in cash or in kind or offer their children for work in exchange for small loans. “Right now they are at the mercy of the ‘arendadores’ who give them (only) small amounts as advance payment with the remaining balance being paid at the end of the cropping season,” David said.

Worse, he stressed, Bago – the rice granary of Negros Occidental – has been producing less rice in the past two or three cropping seasons because of rampant leasehold arrangements and land-use conversions. Lands under leasehold are planted with high-value cash crops.

“The effect threatens further the food insecurity in the province and (this results in) its growing dependence on imported rice and other agricultural goods,” he added.

He said CARP in Negros is not only a failure in so far as land distribution and raising the quality of life of the farmers are concerned. It became an opportunity for big landowners, rich peasants and merchants to seize and consolidate more lands.

“’Arendo’” is not a new concept; it is a feature of the old feudal system, which is being resurrected by no less than the government’s CARP, David concluded. (Bulatlat)

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