Land reform on multinational corporate plantations in the Philippines : case studies of the application of the comprehensive agrarian reform programme (1988) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies, Massey University
This thesis examines the implications of a recent agrarian reform programme in the Philippines for multinational corporate (MNC) plantations. Its central purpose is to assess and explain the land tenure consequences of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme as it applied to MNC plantations. This entails an examination of the economic and political factors underlying both the passing of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme in 1988 and its subsequent implementation on plantations.
Though there is no coherent theory of land reform as it applies to MNC plantations two bodies of literature are very relevant: the political economy of land reform and the political economy of MNC expropriation in developing countries. These were drawn upon to provide general hypotheses that are tested in this study. These are that the relationship between the political and landowning elites of developing countries and the relationship between the political elites and the transnational economy are critical determinants of the political economy of land reform on MNC plantations.
More specifically, in the context of the Philippine political economy, it is hypothesized that the close ties between the political and landowning elites, and their shared interests with, and ties to, MNCs, coupled with the economy's dependence on the corporations, has resulted in the agrarian reform programme
bringing about no substantial change in MNC land tenure relations.
In order to test these hypotheses, four multinational plantations in the Philippines that had been subject to land transfer under the agrarian reform programme were used as case studies. These were two pineapple plantations operated by subsidiaries of American-owned MNCs, Del Monte International and Castle and Cook International, and two oil palm plantations, one owned by an Indonesian corporation, Raja Garuda Mas, and the other by a Singaporean company, Keck Seng Private Ltd.
It is found that the agrarian reform programme has not brought about any substantial change in MNC land tenure or production relations. This is in part attributed to the predominance of landed and agribusiness interests in the Philippines political economy, coupled with their shared interests with, and ties to, the MNCs. But it is also found that the MNCs, through their indirect lobby efforts, were able to influence decisively the consequences of the programme for their plantations. Finally, the MNCs' control over technology and markets, coupled with the substantial contribution of their plantations to employment and export earnings, ultimately constrained the degree of government intervention in their land tenure arrangements.