On this third part, we shall dwell into the Realtors Motto and concept about land ownership of “wide distribution”.
The concept of Land Ownership is as old as humanity. We can read in historical accounts about how people, civilizations, and nations have always entered into different kinds of disputes regarding land ownership.
If I may, let us read and reflect, from the New Testament the following;
Acts 2:44-45 “All the believers were together and had everything in common and would sell their possession and goods and distribute them all according as anyone had need”.
Acts 4:32-33 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…”
How can we make these compatible with modern practices in land ownership?
Although we believe in absolute ownership for the land, as embedded in the constitution in relation to the bundle of right theory, we however realize that there is a need to review our mind set about “absolute ownership”.
A Land Ownership theory, that needs special attention and consideration, is that of land “Stewardship” as against absolute ownership.
Property Rights and Property ownership is very complex, particularly in the light of Social- Political thought. Yes, there are several confusing and sometimes contradictory ideas and theories. The “bundle of rights theory” for example, is not absolute, even if it be protected by the Constitution of the Philippines, we are faced with the reality, that land ownership has its limitations and conditions. Particularly in dealing with Squatters, Informal Dwellers, and Government powers.
To explain further, patterned to the term “a bundle of sticks” wherein each stick represents an individual right, which any property owner possesses and directly related to land.
Bundles of Rights Table
Stewardship in general, is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. The concepts of stewardship can be applied to the environment, economics, health, property, information and even in theology.
Stewardship theory is a theory that managers, when left on their own, will act as “responsible” stewards of the assets (e.g. land), that they control. This theory is an alternative view of agency theory, in which managers are assumed to act in their own self interests at the expense of shareholders.
Environmental stewardship refers to responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. Such concept is intended to address what has been described as the next big environmental issue – how to maximize the efficient use of the same land by competing stakeholders, and how to minimize the degradation of natural capital and damage to ‘ecosystem services’.
Stewardship, is also a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world, and should take care of it. Jewish and Christian traditions stewardship also refers to the way time, talents, material possessions, or wealth are used or given for the service of God.
A biblical world view of stewardship can be consciously defined as: “Utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation. “The central essence of biblical world view stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believers’ life in a manner that honors God and impacts eternity.
In context, Absolute ownership is the actual right a person is having on a property. A property in actual ownership can be freely transferable and inheritable. Absolute ownership is a state where an individual becomes the actual owner.
Let’s face it, in reality there is no absolute ownership, since ownership in general is “condition” and limited. The conditions on land ownership are determined by physical factors, legal aspects socio-political and other economic marketing forces that make land useful or viable.
It is also limited in terms of time, because we can only own something or land in relation to our own life span. In reality we are just stewards.
It is true that land is inherited by our heirs, however, in many instances the taxation issues and burdens makes inheritance very expensive and in the end financial responsibility is borne by the heirs.
In the case of juridical personalities like corporations, legally a corporation has a life span of 50 years. Theoretically this can be extended but the end of the day, the shareholders, managers are stewards.
Capitalism and socialism has been, in a way, opposing schools of thought in economics. The central arguments in the socialism/capitalism debate are about economic equality and the role of government.
In a debate organized by the The Israeli Freedom Movement, the theme was: “Capitalism vs. Social Democracy – A free market or enhanced governmental control?”
Dr. Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, argued in favour of the capitalist economy, while Prof.Yossi Yonah, a member of the department of education in Ben Gurion University in Israel, presented the need for enhanced governmental control, which is said to be the basis of the social democratic ideology in the West.
Dr. Brook argued that what prevents a free market from existing is governmental control, which he describes as invasive. “The individual has the right to live his life as he pleases, as long as he does not harm anyone else. The sole responsibility of the government should be to protect the rights of the individual”.
Prof. Yonah brought forth the approach of the French philosopher Voltaire in his book Candide. “The model of a rational person with abundant access to information and seemingly in equality with others does not exist”.
He explained that citizens do not have equal opportunities, and thus if the government does not act accordingly, the strong shall overcome the weak.
I am a believer of democracy, but absolute capitalism is open to the dangers of abuse of a few who control. Those who are in power, amass wealth, and live with greed among themselves, to the detriment of the poor.
Therefore when it comes to land ownership, the democratic process which is social in nature, must adhere to social responsibility and responsible citizenship.
A REALTOR must be truly interested in protecting land ownership. But, we need to have social consciousness, and with the responsibility, in seeing that land be distributed equitably. It will be good for society, to have land ownership, distributed to groups, corporations, cooperatives and farm groups.
Let us look into what the catholic church teaches, we see in the compendium, about the abuses of large land owners, who like feudal lords, who lorded over the weak, the poor and marginalized.
We may say that “land reform” was a failure. Land was not properly distributed, since large agricultural land holdings that has been fractionalized and divided into smaller parcels has proven to be unproductive. We can prove this on how our rice production has gone down in the past years.
In a recent article by GMA news last 7 May 2013, Agriculture: The decline of the poor man’s sector and they said “Among the three main sectors of the Philippine economy, agriculture is the most neglected in terms of investments and development. Its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) has declined to 11 percent last year from 20 to 30 percent in the 23 years to 1969”. And to think of it, our country was a top exporter of rice. But, now other countries like Thailand and Vietnam have been using, technology, and use less land to produce more rice.
Is there something that we can learn from other Nations and countries about Land ownership and its productivity? For example, Taiwan is not considered as an agricultural country, but they succeed with Agro-Industrial productivity.
Although only about one-quarter of Taiwan’s land area is suitable for farming, virtually all farmland is intensely cultivated, with some areas suitable for two and even three crops a year. They have several industrial parks with high-rise residential buildings. They even have nicely-built houses inside agricultural lands.
South Korea launched the Saemaul Undong to modernize the rural area and Korea as a whole. It is a Korean community development model that started in the 1970’s.
The movement promoted self-help and collaboration among the people, as the central government provided a fixed amount of raw materials to each of the participating villages free of charge and entrusted the locals to build whatever they wished with them.
The New Community Movement did much to improve infrastructure in rural South Korea, bringing modernized facilities such as irrigation systems, bridges and roads in rural communities. Expansion included the urban areas of Korea.
The Saemaul Movement is very successful and has been accepted by the United Nations as one of the efficient rural development models in the world. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has decided to select the Saemaul Movement as a base model for the Sustainable Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) program in 2008. Also, the movement has been exported to more than 70 countries, sharing the rural development experience world-wide.
Israel is another small country, but they are considered as one of the most advanced countries in Southwest Asia in economic and industrial development. It has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world. Despite limited natural resources, intensive development of the agricultural and industrial sectors over the past decades has made Israel largely self-sufficient in food production, apart from grains and beef. They combine solar and geothermal energy and maximize space by converting limited land to cross mixed of agriculture, residential and industrial communities.
There are four major forms of agricultural co-operatives in Israel: kibbutzim, moshavim, communal moshavim, and several secondary service co-operatives. Most of the secondary co-operatives are regional organisations that have specific functions like sorting, storage, transportation and financial services.
The Philippine have its version of land cooperatives. In 2001, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and National Housing Authority forged a partnership aimed at providing the housing requirements of cooperative members of the country.
National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) started operation in the 1970’s and. Currently, it is the biggest federation of co-ops in the Philippines, in terms of geographical reach, membership, financial capacity and array of services.
The government can boasts of successful cooperatives like NATCCO, the First Batangas City Cooperative and projects of the LBP and NHA, however it is just a few. Not much has been done or seen. It is in disarray and not at par compared to single models followed by Korea, Taiwan, Israel and other countries.
In the compendium 23, “if there is among you a poor man, one of your brethrens…, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his needs”.
In the end, we need to give an account to GOD. “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:1)
In rural areas, the possibility of acquiring land through opportunities offered by labor and credit markets is a necessary condition for access to other goods and services. Besides constituting an effective means for safeguarding the environment, this possibility represents a system of social security that can be put in place also in those countries with a weak administrative structure. (An equitable distribution of land remains ever critical, especially in developing countries and in countries that have recently changed from systems based on collectivities or colonization Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church)
National Housing Authority
NTD Television Israel