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Decoding the World Bank's SPLIT Project in the Philippines: Resisting Agrarian Injustice
In 2020, the Philippines Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) initiated a World Bank Group (WBG) funded project titled ‘Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling’, abbreviated as ‘SPLIT’. The project subdivides collectively held land titles into individual ones, with the stated aim of improving land tenure security and stabilizing property rights. In reality, however, it is just the latest in a long line of market-led agrarian reforms in the Philippines, which have concentrated land in the hands of powerful economic elites.
This primer on SPLIT gives an overview of key elements of the project and details the risks it poses to peasants’ rights — in both its design and its implementation. Specifically, it shares the findings of research conducted with five local peasant organizations in Negros Occidental province in late August, 2023. Focus group discussions with 70 members of these organizations highlighted a range of concerns about the militarized implementation of SPLIT in their communities and its detrimental impacts on their lives and livelihoods. Negros Occidental offers an illustrative case study of the realities of SPLIT implementation in a context of oligarchy, struggles against landed elites, and state violence.
The primer ends with a call to action to replace SPLIT with genuine agrarian reform, in line with peasants’ right to effective control of land. This right is essential for advancing food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, and collective farming practices. #