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Aquino Signs Decree Ordering Redistribution of Farm Land

July 22, 1987|Associated Press

MANILA — President Corazon Aquino today signed a decree ordering redistribution of all agricultural land in the Philippines. But the watered-down executive order left it to the Philippine Congress to decide how much land estate owners can keep and how much money they will get for what they surrender.

The program would compensate landlords for property redistributed to millions of landless peasants.

Presidential spokesman Teodoro Benigno said the decree covers all public and private agricultural lands except those held by "cultural minorities." He said Aquino told members of her Cabinet to support the program or resign.

The decree represented a compromise between those who pressed for a detailed presidential decree limiting private holdings and those who maintained Congress should implement such a program. Congress convenes Monday.

Landlord associations throughout the country have opposed the plan as confiscatory and some have threatened to organize armed groups to prevent takeover of estates.

The leftist Movement of Philippine Farmers denounced the decree as "pro-landlord and anti-farmer" and criticized Aquino for allowing Congress to set landholding limits.

"There is nothing to prevent Congress from excluding huge landed estates and vast tracts of land controlled by multinational companies from land reform coverage," the farmer's movement said in a statement.

Land reform traditionally has been among the most controversial issues in the Philippines, where 70% of the population lives in rural areas. More than a dozen land reform programs enacted this century have failed.

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