Gender and Land Rights Database


Land Legislation

The Agricultural Tenancy Act (Republic Act No. 1199) of 1954 “An Act to Govern the Relations Between Landholders and Tenants of Agricultural Lands (Leasehold and Share Tenancy)” and amended in 1959: 

  • This was the first land reform law which regulated all forms and aspects of tenure relations, except civil lease
  • It gave share tenants the right to shift to leasehold and pay landowners a fixed rental instead of a variable share
  • It provided security of tenure to tenants by prohibiting their expulsion unless the Court of Agrarian Relations found just cause
  • It created the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR)

The Constitution, 1987:

  • Article II, Section 21: "The State shall promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform"
  • It provided a basis for the formulation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)

The Proclamation No. 131 instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), 1987

  • Pursuant to the Constitution, it undertakes an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farm workers, who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farm workers, to receive a just share of the fruits
  • It covers all public and private agricultural lands regardless of the tenurial arrangement and the commodity produced, including other lands of the public domain that are suitable for agriculture
  • It created the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF) to cover the costs of the program until 1992

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. 6657) 1988, last amended by the Republic Act No. 9700 in 2009:

  • This Act was meant to provide a legal basis for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). It must be read together with all subsequent amendments.
  • A Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) is established to guide and orient in the implementation of the Agrarian Program. Together with the Department of Agricultural Reform (DAR), its aim is to plan and program the final acquisition and distribution of all remaining unacquired and undistributed agricultural lands until June 30, 2014.
  • The scope of the Act was extended in 2009 to cover: 

>   All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture;

>   All lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits as determined by Congress in Section 4 (a) of R.A. No. 6657;

>   All other lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture; 

>   All private lands devoted or suitable for agriculture regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can be raised thereon

  • The 2009 amendment introduced a definition of rural women. It refers to “women who are engaged directly or indirectly in farming and/or fishing as their source of livelihood, whether paid or unpaid, regular or seasonal, or in food preparation, managing the household, caring for the children, and other similar activities.”
  • Section 2 states that the Agrarian Reform Program seeks to achieve the welfare of the landless farmers and farm workers, and to establish the owner-cultivatorship of economic-size farms through the redistribution of agricultural lands, subject to the payment of just compensation of dispossessed landowners.
  • Section 4: “The comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands, as provided in Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture.”
  • Section 6 states that no person may own or retain, directly or indirectly, any public or private agricultural land in excess of 5 hectares. Three hectares may be awarded to each child of the landowner. Any disposition of private lands made by landowners in violation of the above limits is automatically null and void.
  • Sections 5-8 specify that the implementation is to be carried out in three phases, in accordance with a given order of priorities established according to kind, size, and nature of the tenurial status of the lands.
  • Section 22 states that beneficiaries must be willing to and capable of cultivating the land and may be subject to penalty in case they forfeit the land.
  • Section 25 (2) provides that farmers who own less than three hectares of agricultural land are eligible for distribution of land according to a given priority order of categories of farmers.
  • Section 27:  Lands acquired by beneficiaries under this Act or other agrarian reform laws shall not be sold, transferred or conveyed except through hereditary succession. 
  • The 2009 amendment introduced a major change to enable women’s economic advancement. Section 37-A provides for equal support services for rural women and lists a number of measures to promote women’s economic empowerment: 

>  The PARC must ensure that support services integrate the specific needs and well-being of women farmer beneficiaries taking into account the specific requirements of female family members of farmer beneficiaries. 

>  It must also ensure that rural women are able to participate in all community activities. 

>  Rural women are entitled to self-organization in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities and to have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities and technology, and other support services, and equal treatment in land reform and resettlement schemes.

>  The DAR is required to establish and maintain a women’s desk, which will be primarily responsible for formulating and  implementing programs and activities related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights, as well as providing an avenue where women can register their complaints and grievances principally related to their rural activities.

  • Section 41: the composition of the PARC should have one member from an indigenous people, one member from a national organization of rural women and 20 percent of the members must be women 
  • Section 44 provides for the establishment of Provincial Agrarian Reform Committees in each province, to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the program (13).
  • Section 40 (5):  Rural women are listed as a special area of concern. As such, “all qualified women members of the agricultural labour force must be guaranteed and assured equal rights to ownership of land, equal share of farm’s produce and representation in advisory or appropriate decision making bodies.” (3)

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, 1997

  • Section 2 (b) recognizes indigenous people’s ancestral rights over land by providing for the application of customary land tenure in the ancestral domain (11).
  • Sections 2 (d), 21 and 26 guarantee gender equality and the human rights of indigenous women and participation of indigenous women in decision-making processes at all levels (11).
  • Section 26: women enjoy equal rights and opportunities with men, as regards the social, economic, political and cultural spheres of life. The participation of indigenous women in the decision-making process in all levels, as well as in the development of society, shall be given due respect and recognition. The State shall provide full access to education, maternal and childcare, health and nutrition and housing services to indigenous women. Vocational, technical, professional and other forms of training shall be provided to enable these women to fully participate in all aspects of social life. As far as possible, the State shall ensure that indigenous women have access to all services in their own languages.
  • Section 28: the Act created a National Commission on Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to carry out the policies set forth in the Act. The Commission is responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to promote and protect the rights and well-being of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as their rights thereto.

The Administrative Order 96-29, 1996, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources declares that State contracts concluded with persons occupying forest lands must be signed by both spouses (11).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography