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close this bookAgricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (UNU, 1988, 305 pages)
close this folder2. Spontaneous and planned settlement in south-east Asia
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentThailand
View the documentClearing and settlement in the highland-lowland transition zone of northern Thailand
View the documentMalaysia
View the documentThe Philippines
View the documentIndonesia
View the documentConclusion: government-sponsored versus spontaneous settlement
View the documentReferences

The Philippines

In the Philippines there is evidently a greater share of spontaneous land settlement. The social differentiation of the settlers ranges from the forest-clearing pioneer with a poor subsistence economy to the better equipped and more experienced farmers and finally to agricultural contractors whose aim is to open up larger agricultural areas with the help of capital, machinery, and specialized types of farming (e.g. sugar-cane, abaca). The pioneers frequently have to leave their clearings to others due to indebtedness and start again at new settlement frontiers.

During 1948-1960 roughly 1.2 million people, mostly spontaneous migrants, came to Mindanao, especially to the provinces of Cotabato and Davao (Krinks 1970). This flow of "non-assisted migrants ' had already begun around 1919 and continued into the 1970s. Krinks (1970) observed a characteristic regional grouping of the colonies according to the settlers' origins (e.g. Ilocos, Cebu, etc.) and the continual following-on of friends and relatives from home, for whom often unofficial "reserves" of uncleared land were kept. On the other hand, this preservation of contact with the home areas by the new colonists is a more general process which has already been mentioned in relation to the spontaneous forest-clearing areas of Thailand and will come up again with Indonesian migrations.

Until the intensified revival of state-directed settlement policy by an ambitious fiveyear plan (1975-1980) inaugurated during the phase of martial law by former President Marcos (aiming to settle 22,000 families), all preceding programmes together (19391975) had moved 38,212 families (about 192,000 people) into state directed and supported resettlement projects. Spontaneous land clearing during the same period must have been considerably stronger. The slow progress of statedirected resettlement up to that time is also demonstrated by a comparison with the statistical figure of 1.5 million people taking part in interregional migrations in the Philippines during 19601970-most of them, however, moving into Luzon's growing urban centres and only some 318,000 to southern and 44,000 to northern Mindanao.

The modern resettlement programmes coincide with some new features. Beginning in 1972 (the start of martial law) land reform was pushed much more intensely and since that time a considerable number of former tenants became the owners of their tilled land. The state is compensating the former large landowners. The new smallholderowners-mainly rice or maize farmers-are contributing to this over longer ranges by gradual repayment of state-guaranteed credits. Second, the resettlement programmes have been designed still more strongly to effect social pacification. This applies to the problems of the heavily over-populated core regions (central Luzon, parts of the Bisayas, especially Cebu, etc.) but still more to the ongoing conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the south, which gained in intensity in the 1960s and early 1970s. The burning and plundering of entire villages (including resettlement projects), and even towns, has set large numbers of refugees-1 million according to official announcements-on the move. To counteract this Marcos proclaimed in 1975 a further 106,912 ha of land for public settlement schemes, designed for returning refugees and also for rebel returnees who declare their willingness to return to peaceful agriculture (Hanisch 1977; Huke 1963).

In his evaluation of land settlement in South-East Asia Bahrin (1973) holds that although the conflicts between Muslims and Christians in the southern Philippines have different causes conflicts over settlement land play an important role. Several hot spots involved in such clashes are situated in the resettlement areas located in the provinces of Lanao and Cotabato, Mindanao. Although the establishment of the settlements was motivated by the explicit aim of national integration, exactly the opposite has happened. From his experiences with the Malaysian resettlement policy he advises all South-East Asian states to take special care when dealing with political problems associated with land development. Besides the Philippino problem and the conflicts between native inhabitants and the (often ethnically and religiously different) transmigrants from Java and Bali in the Indonesian outer islands, he points also to the dangers of analogous resettlement projects of the Thai government in the Muslim minority areas in southern Thailand as well as to those of possible attemtps to include West Malaysian settlers in projects of colonization in East Malaysia. All these examples would demand "more than mere administrative understanding and textbook resolutions if national disasters are to be avoided" (Bahrin 1973, 55).

Hanisch (1977) quotes numerous examples of disturbing delays by bureaucracy, corruption, and slow development of the necessary infrastructural facilites, which hampers the development of the colonies. The allocation of new resettlement areas can usually be set in motion only by pressure from local authorities-they too are under pressure from squatters who spontaneously penetrated cleared areas (timber concession areas) and other open land suitable for cultivation. In 1975/1976, 49 settlement projects comprised of 47,900 settler families were under the control of the DAR (Department of Agriculture) (roughly the equivalent of 1 per cent of the rural population of the Philippines). However, only 29 per cent of these families were enlisted by the government plan from the over-populated regions and brought to the new colonies (on Mindanao, Palawan, etc.). An additional 1.3 per cent entered the project from outside at their own cost, whilst 40.7 per cent were squatters already established at those sites and a further 29 per cent original native inhabitants who had received land and the new settler's status too.

According to this breakdown by Hanisch, only the first two groups, altogether around 14,500 families or 87,000 inhabitants actually received aid from the government. In the period 1960-1970, however, an estimated total of 362,000 people in fact migrated to Mindanao. The agricultural area of the Philippines grew (according to figures from the National Economic Development Agency) from 1950 to 1973 by 3-4 million ha. With an estimate of four to six ha per settler family, only about five to eight per cent of this land has gone to settlers in state directed and supported projects. The majority of new land development is credited to spontaneous clearing, a situation not very different from that in Thailand.

Recently a number of settlement projects have been covered by World Bank loans, mainly to improve the infrastructure, agricultural production, land titling and surveying, health services, and forest development. In 1977 the Philippine Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) administered a total of 44 settlement schemes, with an aggregate area of 734,825 ha and 49,898 settler families.

FIG. 3. Resettlement schemes administered by MAR in 1978 and population density in the Philippines (see table 4 for figures)

TABLE 4. Settlement projects administered by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform

Settlement project Location Area (ha) Year No. of settler families
1. Isabela plus Peredo Edcor Echague-Angadanan-San Guillermo 8,920 1953 1,358
2. Quirino-Nueva Vizcaya Maddela-Dupax 40,000 1975 674
3. Tarlac No. 1 Concepcion 1,112 1956 196
4. Tarlac No. 2 (Bagong Lipunian) Capas & Bamban, Tarlac Botolan, Zambales 11,039 1969 1,542
5. Tarlac No. 3 (Sacobia) Bamban, Tarlac Mabalacat, Pamganga 3,500 1975 464
6. Nueva Ecija No. 1 Pantabangan-Bongabon Maria Aurora-Dupax 9,019 1972 2,490
7. Nueva Ecija No. 2 Llanera 351 1975 96
8. Pampanga Magalang 756 1970 116
9. Rizal Tanay 25,475 1952 1,666
10. Quezon No. 1 (Catanauan Edcor) Catanauan 2,569 1968 385
11.Central Palawan Narra-Aborlan 25,381 1950 4,171
12.Quezon No. 2 Sampaloc 760 1976 96
13.Camarines Sur Tinambac-Siruma 8,500 1950 1,213
14.Mosbate Uson-Milagros 8,800 1956 471
15.Capiz Dumarao-Cuartero-Maayon 25,000 1965 1,725
16. Antique Anini-y 400 - 352
17. Negros Occidental Cauayan-Kabankalan 33,000 1956 2,304
18. Negros Oriental Sta. Catalina 14,117 1958 1,302  
19. Leyte St. Bernard Hununangan-San Juan 13,000 1975 785
  Sab-a Basin, Kauswagan, Palo 1,300 1976 75
20.Tawi-Tawi Balimbing-Bongao 15,340 1955 723
21.Sulu Panamao-Talipao-Patikul 7,146 1976 219
22.Basilan Lamitan-Sumisip-Maluso 15,000 1976 460
23.Zamboanga del Norte Liloy-Salug-Sindangan 35,000 1962 2,343
24. Bukidnon Maramag-Pangantukan Kalilanoan 35,399 1950 4,336
25. Agusan del Sur Talcogon-Esperanza Sindangan 35,000 1962 2,343
26. Davao del Norte No. 1 Sto. Tomas: Tibal-og La Libertad 7,225 1955 970
  Solis-Logon 2,110 1971 618
  Panabo: Dujali 1,313 1971 464
27.Davao del Norte No. 2 Asuncion 8,221 1970 2,926
28.Lanao del Norte No. 1 Tangkal-Magsaysay 13,943 1960 1,019
29. Lanao del Norte No. 2(Arevalo Edcor) Sapad 3,000 1953 139
30. Lanao del Norte No. 3 Nunungan-Karomatan 19,674 1975 337
31. Lanao del Sur No. 1 Wao 18,000 1950 4,002
32. Lanao del Sur No. 2 Lumba-a-Bayabao-Bubong 6,939 1973 246
33. Lanao del Sur No. 3 Bayang-Binidayan Pagayawan-Tuburan (Tatarican) 18,197 1975 770
34. North Cotabato No. 1 Carmen 100,000 1956 2,019
35. North Cotabato No. 2 (Genio Edcor) Alamada 28,380 1953 899
Not mapped:        
Lanao del Sur No. 4 Kapai 5,500 1978 -
South Cotabate Sorollah 22,000 1978 -
Maguindanao No. 1 (Callego Edcor) Buldon 5,464 1953 241
Maguindanao No. 2(Barira Edcor) Barira 33,000 1967 375
Maguindanao No. 3 Upi-Dinaig 4,268 1975 130
Sultan Kudarat No. 1 Columbio-Tulunan 52,468 1956 2,378
Sultan Kudarat No. 2 Isulan-Bagumbayan 30,000 1968 1,497
Total   737,656   49,796

Source: Ministry of Agriculture 1978

During the early 1980s the situation of rebellion and civil warfare grew to new dimensions. It is interfering with settlement expansion in a very dramatic way. The Muslim resistance-although still aiming for autonomy for the three to four million Islamic population in the south-seems at present to be the relatively smaller problem. It has caused tragic losses. Some sources put it up to about 60,000 casualties and around a million refugees driven from their destroyed homes.

Social and political unrest have led to a revival of the New People's Army and, moreover, a revival of the relocation of scattered squatter homesteads into new militarycontrolled "strategic hamlets." This occurred not only during the Vietnam War but also with the "emergency settlements" during the guerrilla warfare in former Malaya. Whereas this example of large-scale enforced resettlement of (originally illegal or "semi-legal") colonists in scattered holdings has become well documented and thoroughly researched history, the formation of recent Filipino "strategic hamlets" is in constant flux and besides press reports no exact figures are yet available. For the moment this new element in the processes of planned and spontaneous settlement in the Philippines can only be noted here, a full survey of the figures and structures (and the sufferings and unrest amongst the settlers too!) remains a task for the future.

One final source of clearing and new agricultural land remains and that is the rapid spread of international agro-business. Despite the ongoing civil war in certain parts of Mindanao, it is just this large island, rich in natural resources and landreserves, that has attracted a number of American, Japanese, and Filipino agrobusiness firms (including some big international concerns), which have cleared and established large areas of pineapple and banana plantations. They add considerably to the amount of newly opened land and to the provision of jobs and export income for the Philippines. On the negative side there have also been some attempts to force out squatter settlers who may happen to disturb the acquisition and organization of a continuous plantation area.

Despite the various problems and shortcomings, the statistical figures for the total growth of all cultivated land in the Philippines from 1948 to 1972 are quite remarkable (Hanisch 1977, table 4, p. 147): 3.8 million ha in 1948, 5.6 million ha in 1960, and 6.5 million ha in 1972. The harvested area rose from 4.7 million ha in 1948 to 9.4 million ha in 1972 and 10.7 million ha in 1975. The figures reveal the rapid growth of doublecropping, partly on rice land, through improved irrigation techniques (the irrigated area rose from 400,000 ha in 1948 to 958,000 ha in 1972, and since that date considerably more). The rice area increased from 2 million ha in 1948 to 3.24 million ha in 1972 and 3.6 million ha in 1979 (Palacpac 1980). There has also been an intensification through improved rotations on dry-field land. The enormous extension in total cultivated area, however, is an indication of the combined effects of planning and of spontaneous clearing of new land.