The Asia Land Forum was held on 5 September 2016 in Ortigas Center, Quezon City, Philippines. Divided into two parts, the Forum engaged the Philippine Government on the proposed legislative land agenda of the CSO members of the International Land Coalition (ILC), and provided space for knowledge exchanges on achieving food sovereignty through advancing land rights. Around 85 participants from the Governments of Philippines, Nepal, and Cambodia; intergovernmental organizations (ADB, FAO, IFAD, WB); CSO representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand took part in the discussion.
The morning session on “Shaping the Land Agenda in the Philippines” pressed on the land agenda for the Duterte Adiministration under the framework of land rights as human rights. Philippine CSO members of ILC demanded for the passage of the (i) Completion of Notice of Coverage Bill or the NOC Bill, (ii) Indigenous Community Conservation Area (ICCA) Bill, and (iii) the National Land Use Act (NLUA) Bill, collectively called as the “Triple Land Rights Bills,” to effectively address land rights issues that affects the lives of marginalized sectors such as indigenous peoples, farmers and fisher folks as well as the urban poor communities.
Wilson Requez of the People’s Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network, Inc. (AR Now!) discussed that more than 69,000 hectares (ha) of landholdings are yet to be covered for redistribution (DAR Status Report, 2016) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). With the failure to pass the NOC Bill on completing the land acquisition and distribution provision of the CARP during the 16th Congress, it is hoped that in this 17th Congress, the Bill will be passed as the legislative champions for agrarian reforms both in the Lower and Upper Housed have already filed bills for the Completion of Notice of Coverage and are hoping to sustain the momentum it gained during the 16th Congress.
Dave de Vera of the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID) highlighted the importance of ICCAs in conserving indigenous people (IP)’s lives and source of livelihood leading to biodiversity conservation. Hence, the passage of the ICCA Bill will further strengthen the mandate of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and will highlight the very important role of IPs in the conservation of our remaining resources.
Lastly, Elmer Mercado, EnP of the Campaign for Land Use Policy Now! (CLUP Now!) stressed that a clear land use policy through the NLUA should be passed to rationalize the use of lands and address the current degradation of country’s land resources.
Representative Teddy Baguilat committed to support the passage of these Bills in the current Congress.
During the afternoon session on “Realizing the sustainable development goals: Defending land rights of communities to achieve food sovereignty in the region,” participants discussed the food security priorities of international organizations and selected Asian countries and sustainable development goals in the context of hunger and land rights.
Fifty-two representatives of grassroots organizations, peoples’ movements and CSOs from 10 Asian countries signed the Quezon City Declaration on Food Sovereignty calling upon concerned States, institutions, and corporations to respect and adhere to the 12 principles of the Declaration on protecting and strengthening land rights towards food sovereignty. See Declaration here.
The Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), the International Land Coalition (ILC), the GIZ, and the Philippine Development Forum-Working Group on Sustainable Rural Development Forum (PDF-SRD), in partnership with AFA, AR NOW!, CARRD, PAKISAMA, PAFID, TFM and XSF organized this event.