IDS working papers;244

Making property rights accessible : social movements and legal innovation in the Philippines

Published on 1 January 2005

Today, many rural poor Filipinos are using state law to try to claim land rights. In spite of the availability
of a much heftier set of specialised legal resources than ever before, however, claiming legal land rights
remains extremely difficult. Pro-market scholars cite difficult legal problems as a reason to turn away from
state-led land reform and toward a market-assisted land reform (MALR) model. Yet, as this paper shows,
a closer look at actual dynamics around land reform in the Philippines suggests that political-legal
problems associated with implementation of the 1988 agrarian reform law can be overcome under certain
conditions. It is argued that rural poor claimants must have access to a support structure for political-legal
mobilisation, particularly “rights-advocacy organisation”, and they must adopt an integrated political-legal
strategy, in order to effectively push existing constitutional-juridical openings and institutional reforms in
favour of land redistribution. An integrated political-legal strategy is one that is capable of activating state
agrarian reform law, exploiting independent state actors’ pro-reform initiatives, and resisting the legal and
extra-legal manoeuvres of anti-reform elites.

Publication details

published by
Franco, Jennifer C.


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