Monday, January 28, 2013



Mindanao State University –Marawi
Marawi City,Philippines
[Paper prepared for the ICOPHIL9 ,Michigan State University East Lansing,Michigan. Oct.28-30,2012]
            Economic Development Corps(EDCOR) settlements in Mindanao was conceived and planned to answer  the growing insurgency in post WorldWar II Philippines. It  was intended to counter the `land to the landless’ slogan of the Communists that had  drawn landless tenants of Central Luzon to the Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan (HMB)of the Communists. This resettlement project puts into canvas a picture of the Philippines as a volatile predominantly agricultural  country  and second, a country that is divided politically and ideologically. As the so-called `showcase of democracy in Asia’ by the United States, the urgency of stemming the `Huk tide’ in  the country was palpably clear .
         In a country that suffered the ravages of War, tenants of Central Luzon who temporarily enjoyed freedom from their landlords ( who escaped to Manila) ,experienced solidarity with the Huks, who promised them `lands to the tillers.’ Huk supporters have increased to 100,000 in Central Luzon alone. Their popularity was undiminished until a systematic counter-insurgency program was developed by Ramon Magsaysay,the Quirino Administration’s Secretary of Defense and Edward Lansdale of the Joint US-Phil. Military Group(JUSMAG). The birth of Economic Development Corps Mindanao, in conjunction with a revitalized military spelled doom for the Communists HMB. By 1957, the threat of Communism became a thing of the past, albeit temporarily.
            The Mindanao location of the EDCOR settlements  would create a new meaning in resettlement. Although historically considered as the Philippines’ frontier, its Land of Promise, to put into it former rebels of different background seemingly is a no-brainer, not well-thought out in terms of nation-building. For Mindanao during the 1950’s  was already saturated with settlers; and its natives, specially the Muslims, were already sounding their alarm. There were the Tawan-tawan uprisings in Kapatagan, the Kamlon uprising in Sulu and the Sandab brothers in Cotabato which were land-related disputes. EDCOR settlers would therefore be another prey for the already volatile situation.
            I pointed out in my doctoral dissertation[1] that the EDCOR resettlement program was merely intended as counter-insurgency propaganda, no more no less.
            This paper would aim to go beyond EDCOR’s counter-insurgency formula and, deriving from current issues on peace process in Mindanao would examine how resettlement has historically been  a tool for nation-building. For this purpose I am going to re-interpret resettlement, its implications on nation-building base on present conditions obtaining in selected areas  of Mindanao, primarily former EDCOR settlement in Kapatagan, Lanao  (now Sapad,Lanao del Norte)  and a NARRA  settlement in Wao,Lanao del Sur. NARRA or National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Administration was an offshoot of the EDCOR experience under Ramon Magsaysay, President of the Philippine Republic (1954-57).

            Spanish `reduccion’ and American `agricultural colonization projects’ were similarly aimed to transform the natives into willing and able subjects working towards their particular colonial goals and purposes. Spanish ecclesiastical objective of converting the native to become devout Catholics transferred the natives into planned settlements `bajo la campana’ or under the bells for  their close watch. American homestead farms or agricultural colonies were designed like military camps under close watch by their soldiers.
            In Mindanao, the Spanish  Jesuits `Tamontaka Experiment’  resonated in the `American agricultural colonies project’ where the goals of economic productivity was made in the service of creating a nation of willing and able subjects/citizens[2].
             For instance at Tamontaka, Cotabato Jesuit missionaries developed a farm settlement where former Tiruray slaves  whom they manumitted from their Moro masters were given religious instructions and training for agricultural livelihood as well as carpentry and masonry for the men ; and for  the women,  housekeeping, embroidery  and other cottage industries. Women and men lived in separate dormitories and were expected to later marry and have families of their own. They eventually established their own dwellings and formed clusters of communities. These communities resembled the laid-out plans in a reduccion. Thus a kind of a model town was what the Tamontaka experiement was expected to yield. Support for this project was taken through the Obras Pias and contributions from pious citizens in Manila.
            As can be gleaned from the Reports of Jesuit missionaries in the Jesuit Letters,[3] their  plans were carried out and were initially successful. Moro datus became curious and were amazed at the changes made among their former slaves, now skilful craftsmen. They would even ask them to help in building their torogans, or in doing some masonry. This pleased the missionaries because in coming to their missions the moros also became curious of their religious practices and asked questions. Eventually some of the moro chiefs became friends with the missionaries until one datu named Ali, who had been suspicious of the missionaries took offense of an act done by the Jesuits who built their church on a location which was supposedly a burial  ground for Ali’s ancestors. It caused a military intervention on the part of the Spanish government were Ali and his men were defeated. But the damage was already done. The dormitories were reduced into ashes, their barns looted and their livestocks and fowls perished. The Mission was unable to restore itself after this debacle.
            This Tamontaka experiment (1873-97)  initiated by the Jesuit missionaries in Mindanao which aimed nonetheless for proselytization suggests a method for nation-building towards a self-sufficient,homogenous citizenry similar to the `ideal citizen’ concept of the Americans in their agricultural colony project in Northern Cotabato. Before the end of Spanish Rule actually Governor Blanco , already had in mind the resettlement of Mindanao with people from Luzon and Visayas that was supposedly to follow after the Lanao pacification campaign. This idea could have been inspired by the Jesuit’s Tamontaka experiment as Blanco’s Lanao campaign was almost contemporaneous to the this Jesuit’s resettlement project in Cotabato.
Moreover, while aiming at agricultural self-sufficiency, the Americans believe in resettling farmers from Luzon and Visayas to assume their role as model citizens of the natives in the course of interacting with them. Conceived as part of the Filipinization policy of Governor General Harrison to make a `Filipino out of the Moro’, the agricultural colonies were created at the end of the pacification campaign of Pershing. It is to be noted that Pershing’s pacification campaigns were characterized by bloody massacres, such as the Bud Dajo incident, when it imposed its disarmament policy.
The agricultural colonies project in 1913 thus coincided with the creation of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu ending the military rule in Mindanao[4].
            A lesson in colonialism tells us that a centralized bureaucracy  makes for a more efficient control of the subject nation. A  stronger Filipino nation was inadvertently created by a  weakening Spanish power that was challenged by American military subjugation. Through its first civil  governor, William Howard  Taft’s legalistic economic policies, resettlement was enhanced, paving the way for a systematic inclusion of Mindanao’s untapped resources into the newly colonized nation. The Treaty of Paris of 1898, ostensibly, gave the United States every right to occupy even Mindanao and Sulu’s Muslim territories considered not yet fully pacified by the Spaniards. Though by 1913, these were militarily brought under American sovereignty, civilian rule under John Carpenter, appointed by Governor Harrison. This was the  Department of Mindanao and Sulu which effected the first agricultural colonies in Cotabato that  resettled farmers from Luzon and Visayas to Cotabato in order to solve inadequate production of rice and corn  . Corollary to this mission was for these farmers from the North  to  gradually `Filipinize’ the natives in this far-flung Philippine territory. Thus, a culturally homogenized agricultural state would be an asset that  would best serve American interest in consolidating its rule on Mindanao.
            Six  agricultural colonies were established in Northern Cotabato  from 1913-1919. Although considerably successful for having increased the production of rice and corn and making headway in initiating a harmonized inter-ethnic relations in Cotabato, the succeeding Wood’s administration considered these inconsequential compared with what it considered exorbitant government expenditures. The resettlement projects, however, were revived during Quezon’s Commonwealth Regime  following the same objectives instituted by the Americans. Furthermore, Quezon thought this to help ameliorate the tenants who were already restive in Luzon. Thus, the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA) was born on October 22,1938 with the promulgation of the Commonwealth Act no.441.
 Compared with the agricultural colonies of the Americans, this was a huge project  funded by the National Development Corporation(NDC) . Quezon borrowed from this corporation P200,000.00 to finance the settlement project.[5]He envisioned a Mindanao that would not only serve the government’s need for increased revenue but also a well-integrated citizenry , peaceful and law-abiding. Through his Social Justice program,  landless peasants from Luzon were given lands in famously fertile  Allah and Koronadal Valleys of southern Cotabato.
Alongside the NLSA resettlement project was a comprehensive development  plan of  tapping  the hydro-electric resources  of Lanao’s Maria Cristina Falls for industrial purposes. We know of this today as the National Power Corporation. 
With the end of the Commonwealth Period and the inauguration of the independent Philippine Republic, resettlement as a panacea for social and economic ills, would, among others, engender complex socio-political and economic problems. One of which was the resettlement of the Huk rebel surrenderees from Luzon and Visayas to Mindanao.  The Quirino Administrations’ LASEDECO (Land Settlement Development Corporation), the successor of NLSA proved to be less effective compared with the military’s Economic Development Corps or EDCOR. Although created under his administration, the EDCOR was a military outfit which was autonomously administered and funded by the Philippine Army. Ramon Magsaysay together with Edward Lansdale, conceived of an integrated approach to insurgency where weaning supporters of Communism could be successful should their attraction to it will cease. The primary attraction which was  the communists  `land to the tillers’ was transformed into `land for the landless’; and Mindanao was pictured as that land of promise for the surrendered Huks.  In time, this EDCOR  idea proved to be successful.[6]
The Setting of the EDCOR settlements : Kapatagan, Lanao and Buldon,Cotabato
            As the name aptly describes it, the Kapatagan Valley is flat at the center, sloping softly towards the south and east across the hilly Mt. Iniaon. Barrio Buriasan, where the EDCOR farm was situated, was a vast vacant public land of 1,690 hectares which was later expanded to 3,400 hectares in 1954. Seven hundred hectares of this land were allotted to registered owners and the rest to registered settlers. It was opened through Proclamation no.375and became a settlement for 484 settler-families, which included sixty-four former Huks (who remained from the original one hundred rebel families in 1951), twenty-seven retired soldiers and nine civilian[7]The land was partially cleared and developed by the Army and civilian volunteers in early 1951. Later, houses were built and roads were graded. A schoolhouse, administration building, dispensary and medical service facilities were added to the settlement[8] By the time the settlement became a municipality, the total area developed was 799.4965 hectares. Named Sapad municipality later, it comprised the barangays of Pili,Baning, Karibang, Patebon, Karkum, Taraka and Dansalan. [9]
            The settlement procedure for EDCOR farms in Kapatagan, Buldon and later, Alamada followed almost the same pattern:
             The townsites were designated to function as modern agglomerated
                communities in that house lots were laid side by side in clustered village
                pattern. For instance, at (Kapatagan) the site was originally situated into
                126 farm lots from the townsite, which had orderly rows of thatched cot-
                tages  and numerous Army and community facilities. The dispersed
                settler-houses (were) well-constructed on wooden pilings, on palm leaf
                sides and thatched roofs. Homelots (were) supposedly to have place for
                vegetables, flowers, fruits, shade trees, toilet, garbage pit, poultry project
                And pig sty. Electricity was also provided including a radio center for outside communication.[10]
            Buldon is a hilly area with an elevation of 1,500 feet above sea level. Located along the boundary of Cotabato and Lanao provinces where Simuay River cuts through, the Buldon (also called EDCOR) farm is situated on the rolling foothills at the base of the sharp-peaked mountains . The climate is not as hot and humid as in Kapatagan and the area is conducive to upland crops. Alamada EDCOR has been carved out of Libungan municipality, 18 miles north of Midsayap town proper. It has an undulating terrain surrounded by hills and mountains. At the same time of settlement kaingin trees abound. This was the third EDCOR settlement to be opened in Mindanao and it received its first batch of settlers in 1956.

            Within the purview of the Spanish reduccion and American agricultural colonies, resettlement had always been considered as integral to the consolidation of colonial power. Proceeding from a military conquest, the population is made to serve the colonizers’ vested interests with a combination of ameliorative , one of which is resettlement, and militarists, programs . This pattern continued even after the supposed national liberation of the conquered nation. This time it is called `internal colonialism’, i.e. domestic elites’ vested interests, at the expense of the majority, continue to dominate national economic policies.
            The newly established post-war Philippine Republic answer to a nation fragmented by Communist insurgency was, among others, resettlement through the EDCOR in Mindanao.
            At this juncture I am going to attempt at answering the following questions: How was it administered? And what was its status according to its beneficiaries? And what were the results of its monitoring and evaluation if there were any? What happened to the settlers?
            Administratively, EDCOR was under the direct supervision of the Civilian Affairs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which was in charge of the Huk surrenderees. It was formally established on December 15,1950. Funding was provided for through the Army Appropriations Act of 1951 intended for rebel rehabilitation.  By February 22,1951, the first EDCOR project at Kapatagan in Lanao was established. Edward Lansdale, who was with the group,recounted:
                                Magsaysay, Mirasol, a detachment of troops, surveyors and I
                went to Mindanao and looked over the area.  It was  lush, virgin jungle
                several kilometres inland from the sea, reached by an abominable
                muddy track of a road. A few small farms lay along this road, with rich-
                looking soil and reportedly abundant crops...A corps of engineers who
                executed the settlement lay-out plan of Magsaysay and Mirasol were
                with us[11].

            Three EDCOR projects were established: in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte; in Buldon, Cotabato; and in Isabela Province in February 1951,November 1951 and April 21,1953,respectively. Although no data are available as to the total number of Huks who were resettled in all the areas. Alvin Scaff during his field work in Kapatagan(September 1953), mentioned that there were one hundred settlers but did not specify how many of these were Huks. Shalom recorded that “when the project was completed, fewer than 1,000 families had been resettled... and only 246 of these were ex-Huks.”[12]
            The project was opened to two groups:1) captured or surrendered Huks, called former rebels; and 2)former officers, rank and file soldiers and trainees and some private citizens called the  `stabilizers’. It aimed to rehabilitate, train for gainful occupation and re-educate the first group; while the latter would serve as “stabilizing influence in the re-education and reformation of the former”.[13]
            EDCOR farming proceeded in four stages: During the first year, each family was to plant rice seedlings on a two-hectare land. The family was expected to eventually become self-supporting and would have surplus with which to pay their debts. During the second year, they would be given two more hectares of land to plant with either ramie or abaca for additional repayment of loan; in the third year, they would be given two more hectares for the same purpose; and in the fourth year they would be given two or more hectares for the same reason. In short,the system of hectare increases was to enable repayment of loans more rapidly.[14]
             EDCOR’S State of Productivity in 1955- from a Military Survey
            A survey[15] was made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assess the productivity of the EDCOR farms during the first three years in 1955. The study interviewed 92 settlers out of 110 in Kapatagan and 163 settlers out of 170 in Buldon. Not included in the interview were those settlers who were out of town, in hospital, newly accepted, or not available for other reasons. Its finding were the following: 1)Self-sufficiency was not yet attained by the settlers. 2) The program of rehabilitation still had to progress; and 3) Its grandiose objective of social amelioration should be made more realistic.

 The settlers’ failure to achieve self-sufficiency
According to the Military Survey:
                                Of the 92 setlers samples in I Arevalo(Kapatagan)EDCOR
Farm, 27 or 29.4 percent (were) in the upper or more successful
groups;43 percent average and 22 or 24 percent failures. Of the
163 settler sample in the (Buldon) farm,36 or 22 percent belong
to the more successful group; 84 or 1.6 percent belong to the
               more successful groups; 84 or 51.6 percent average, and 43 or
26.4 percent failures [16]
            Note that the index of success or failure were the following:  successful groups are those with income[note: this was probably yearly income, although this was not indicated] between P1,600 to P5,600; middle or average group from P800.00 to P1,600.00 and the failures from none to P800[17].
            Thus, the survey concluded that the expectations of the government were not met. These were: that the greater majority should have produced income between P1,650 to P5,600.00 and the percentage of failures should have been smaller. This also suggested that the EDCOR settler was not yet self-sufficient, and therefore, still needed government subsidy.
            However, according to the report,”(A)lthough the per capita income of the settlers in both farms, Kapatagan and Buldon which was P469.02 and P317.85 respectively, was short of their target goal,it was still high compared to non-settlers even as the rice farmers whose income was P217.69 and the corn farmers with only P112.09 income.[18]
Huk rehabilitation was yet to continue
            An important goal of the project was to restructure the mold of the Huk mentality to one of a self-sufficient owner-cultivator type of farmer who is at the same time a model law-abiding citizen. It was hoped that more Huks would be  convinced to surrender and lead peaceful ordinary lives.
            The survey, however, found out that after three years of settler farming there were still former Huks considered unfit for farm work. Expectedly, those who were considered of `doubtful loyalty’ or the so-called `red’ were the least productive. Conversely, those of the `stabilizer group’ or `retired soldiers became more successful. To wit:
                                Of the 58 ex-Huks interviewed in the Kapatagan EDCOR farm,
                12 or 13.04% were more successful,26 or 28.36 average and 20 or
                21.74 below average. These 58 ex-Huks interviewed,27 or 16.5 were
                more successful, 73 or 44.73% average and 42 or 25.76 below average.
                in this farm,therefore, of the 163 settlers interviewed ¼ who were failures
                were ex-Huks.[19]

            Thus, according to the survey, “most of the (former or retired soldiers) were more successful than 1/5 to ¼ of the total number of ex-Huks.”[20]
            Magsaysay attributed such failures to the settlers’ shortcomings themselves since “in all settlements...the supervision and administration have consistently been the same...(It had thus become incumbent for his administration) to correct his (the failed settler) faults and deficiencies with the end in view of making him productive and self-sustaining.”[21]
            Another study was done by Alvin Scaff, an American sociologist. He visited the EDCOR Kapatagan and Buldon during its earlier period (September and November 1953) and was impressed by these farms’ accomplishments. He considered it (EDCOR) as the “Philippines’ answer to communism” (which was the title of his book) in weaning the rebels from this radical ideology. From his interviews, he found out that, indeed, despite the settlers’ problems of adjustment, the government was doing well at least at its earlier phase. The responses he received were fairly representative of all the Huk settlers of varying backgrounds.
            Furthermore, in Scaff’s study of 1953,Kapatagan EDCOR, only nineteen cases or six percent of the total number of settlers at the end of 1953 (year of his study) left the project or were dismissed. According to Scaff,  “Six of those who (who abandoned the settlement) were convicted of theft; five refused to work and develop their farms; three deserted; two were found in illegal possession of firearms; two resigned because of poor health; one tried to incite trouble against the government.”[22]
            From Scaff’s interviews, the following were the enumerated problems during the first three years of EDCOR settlement: illness, inability to pay one’s loan, lack of supplies when these were cut off; road problems and favouritism. It was also recalled it was in 1953 when an ex-convict named only as Rivera, caused trouble in the farm community[23]. Lack of funds, further exacerbated the problem. Its tight budget of P320,000 for its six month operation could no longer sustain a drainage project and other farm needs such as carabaos and plows.[24] Despite all these, Alvin Scaff considered EDCOR as a success.
            On the whole, Jesus Vargas, Magsaysay’s chief of staff said:
                                The EDCOR exist not merely to rehabilitate. It (also) exist...for
               the purpose of helping the nation find new means to bring about a
                faster and more scientific rural development. We believe that in the
                effort to solve the country’s tenancy problems, the EDCOR’s experience
                could be a sound basis for new legislations. [25]
According to Magsaysay, a former Secretary of Defense , now President by  1954, “The success of the EDCOR experiment in resettling ex-dissidents had added a new concept in the mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-that it cannot wage a war successfully by armed struggle alone, but had also to pursue further the greater task of rehabilitating physically and morally those involved in the armed struggle.”[26]

            The economic prosperity of the EDCOR settlements, as shown by the increase of production and population, was implicit in the peace and order prevailing in the areas. The security provided by military presence in the farm settlement ostensibly assured the settlers that they would go on living their farm life undisturbed.
            The land issue, however, became the prominent bone of contention between the EDCOR and the Muslims. There were reports of Muslims contesting recognized public land at the EDCOR farms.[27] For instance, upon investigation, the Philippine Constabulary learned that a certain Umpa who was suspected to be the  “landgrabber” was actually an employee of the Lanao Provincial government. He(Umpa) reported that when EDCOR was established in Kapatagan, land for his men behind the EDCOR area was assured; but when his men developed their parcels of land, they were forced to evacuate because EDCOR settlers came to occupy their attached farmlands. The same report alleged that the Maranaos harassed the settlers. Apparently, it was the  military presence that averted open violence in this area.
            Nonetheless, after the surrender of Tawan-tawan and Kamlon in 1951 and 1954, respectively, there was relative calm all over Mindanao and Sulu.
President Magsaysay and EDCOR
            Magsaysay’s sudden death in 1957 [28] brought a sense of insecurity among the Kapatagan EDCOR settlers. Since the termination of their subsidy coincided with the demise of the president, they thought that the succeeding Garcia administration was not sympathetic to their plight. It was apparent due to their unpaid loans they faced imminent foreclosure of their mortgaged land. They sought an audience with President Garcia, but to no avail. It was a policy of his administration to impose austerity and fiscal discipline. Thus, for the Kapatagan EDCOR  settlers it seemed that the death of Magsaysay likewise ended the EDCOR project.
THE EDCOR  and NARRA During the Magsaysay Administration
            When Ramon Magsaysay was the elected president, his image as the “man of the masses” and his `land to the landless’ program gained prominence with the EDCOR  and the NARRA.
            At the outset of his administration, Magsaysay directed Secretary Balao of the EDCOR to advise the settlers to obtain a P750.00 per hectare loan for coffee plantation from the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation. The purpose of this loan program, according to Magsaysay was to “enhance the settlers`capability to contribute to production of cash crops and improve the financial condition of the planters.”[29] As gathered from this author’s interview, the settlers in Buldon benefitted from this program, specially at the time when rat infestation and forest fires plagued the place in the late sixties.
            NARRA Mindanao projects on the other hand, just like EDCOR has to reckon with land problems. It was reported that settlers were shipped without assurance of the lands in the settlement where they were assigned.[30] Beloso, the NARRA manager was ordered to correct the situation.
            A more serious problem encountered was the land dispute between settlers and natives in the area. A land conflict between the moro claimants and the NARRA settlers almost developed into a bloody encounter. In August 1956, a certain Datu Sangke insisted on a claim consisting of 650 hectares located at Kauran, Datu Piang where a NARRA reservation was located. According to Datu Sangke, Kauran was one of the few remaining places where they, as natives, could settle. Most of the Koronadal and Allah Valley had been occupied by Christians.[31] Two hundred and sixty-four Muslim families and one hundred and three Christian families fought over the controversial land. According to the Christian settlers, they occupied the land in 1952 with the permission of another Muslim claimant.
            The land conflict was settled through a division of farm lots, in which greater portion was allotted to Datu Sangke’s men. An agreement called the `Pledge of Brotherhood’ was signed between the Muslim and Christian groups. This temporarily forestalled the conflict.
            At Wao, (a town of Lanao del Sur) NARRA reports of anomalies committed by Busran Kalaw reached Malacanang in June 1898. Kalaw, according to these reports,cheated the settlers of their supplies, sold their rice supplies at exorbitant prices, and censored their letters and radiograms to government authorities. The settlers: Gregorio Abasta, Anita Reyes,Mariano Reyes, Amado Reyes and Arturo Angeles, presented to the President invoices showing they were given only  a few gantas  of rice a week, out of their weekly rations of fifteen gantas each.[32]
            Meantime, in Maramag (Bukidnon) NARRA, Jose Crisol (who conducted investigation there) reported that there were “administrative operational deficiencies”  in the settlement and recommended the improvement of the road from Maramag to Wao. Moreover, it was also noted that some settlers from Wao wanted to transfer to Maramag.[33]
            At Davao, a NARRA project was abolished when it was found out that this government agency was actually the landgrabber.
            Following Magsaysay’s death, the settlers in EDCOR Kapatagan, recalled seven  significant developments: Muslim conflict, selling of land and animals, settlers returning to their original places, end of EDCOR’s days of glory[34],decrease in agricultural production, local government’s takeover and the building of more houses. Major changes were: 1)most of Kapatagan settlers’ support stopped; 2)vigorous campaign to collectsettlers’ debts to the government; 3)EDCOR’s turnover to Land Authority in 1957; and  4) its eventual phase-out and incorporation into the newly formed Sapad municipality in 1969.
            In 1959, serious management problems beset the Gallego EDCOR in Buldon. Army Chief of Staff Alejo Santos ordered a military investigation of the Gallego Farms regarding the reported abuses of military personanel against settlers in the form of usurious credit, charging settlers for use of military vehicles at exorbitant rates, confiscation of work animals, farm lots and other property of the settlers who failed to pay borrowed money, and sale of drugs and medicines which were originally issued free to the settlers.[35]
            Furthermore, Senator Genaro Magsaysay, who visited Libungan (Genio EDCOR farm or Alamada) in late 1962, confirmed landgrabbing cases there. Allotted lots for settlers were said to have been withdrawn and finally,fell into the hands of moneyed people and certain government officials. These landgrabbing cases were denied by the then Acting Bureau of Lands Director.[36] Apparently, the latter was implicated in the anomaly. Related to this report was the charge of illegal logging at the EDCOR farm in Buldon.
            A case was filed in 1963 against a lumber company on an EDCOR reservation of 134,041 hectares in Buldon, Cotabato. The company had been logging in Buldon since 1958, in an area reserved by Ramon Magsaysay under Proclamation No.6(March 2,1954). The permission was given through an official who was unauthorized to act on behalf of EDCOR, according to Defense Secretary Macario Peralta. Forestry Director Bernal said that through a series of amendments, the company increased its logging areas from 49,000 hectares to 107,400 hectares in a matter of two months, and not without the official consent of the Defense Secretary.[37]
Natives Anxiety Over the Creation of the EDCOR settlement in their area
            A concrete instance of a Maguindanaoan’s complaint over the loss of what they believe to be their land to the EDCOR project was reflected in the following:
                                We are poor...The government brought in ex-rebel from
                the other end of the country, people who are alien to us, settled
                them down on our land, gave them everything they need to farm,
                and (laid) out towns for them. We ask(ed) for the same consideration.
                We (were) told we do not quality...We do not know how to compete
                with these people...Soon we shall be landless people on our own
                home country.[38]
In such a situation, according to Melvin Mednick, an anthropologist who studied the Muslims in Mindanao, “the effect of the EDCOR project was...a good example of a situation in which a solution of the problems (in Luzon) turn(ed) into the breeding ground for another.”[39]In an effort to prevent such occurrence, the government allowed a segment on the settlement reserved for the Maguindanaoans. By April 4,1956 the government authorized 227 Moro families to occupy and settle lands at Genio EDCOR project which, according to Ciriaco Mirasol, EDCOR chief, “accomplished two things: 1)it filled the project up t To capacity and 2)obviated possible Muslim charges that the government provid(ed) more privileges to Christians than (the) native(s) of the area.”[40]
            In 1959 at the Genio (Alamada) EDCOR farm , many Muslims were granted land . This was corroborated by a report which stated that: “At Genio Alamada EDCOR, 105 enlisted men and eighteen Muslim farmers were admitted as settlers in newly-cleared Balatawan-Dado Area of Genio Farm, Libungan Midsayap, Cotabato.”[41]
            In 1959, the government created another resettlement program Socio-Economic Military Program (SEMP).[42]
            SEMP was intended to “help retired enlisted men and ex-trainees to acquire their own land which they (would) work as homestead until they (could) have a title to it”. The program was under the supervision of the Philippine Army which acquired public land not reserved for NARRA nor the EDCOR.  Under the same program, the Army helped the settlers by opening roads, particularly for transporting the settlers’ machinery and equipment, cleaning the forest, planning the community, sending tools and advancing supplies.[43]
            Evidently, the creation of SEMP as an exclusive military resettlement project formalized the alienation of the former insurgents-the Huks, from the rest of the settlers. The government considered the `Huk menace’ as solved and as a precautionary measue, they had to be isolated from the Maguindanaoans who were also potential rebels. The land issue remained a sensitive matter, specially for the latter. In fact, in Alamada EDCOR which was the biggest settlement of`673 settlers, only seven were former Huks while 97 were militarymen .
            Moreover, it would be this SEMP-EDCOR in the Alamada settlement (also called Barrira-Genio), in comparison with the other EDCOR settlements, which would be the last to be turned over to civilian administration under the Ministry of Agrarian Reform in 1972.[44] This fact suggests that EDCOR Alamada retained its military nature for almost two decades. When the author visited the area in 1994, she was impressed that much of its military settlement lay-out remained. According to Maynard Dow, an American military officer,
                                (T)he EDCOR ha(d) made significant strides...When it
                was apparent that there were insufficient ex-Huks and other
                settlers for filling the original quota, the government took
                definite steps to include indigenous moro.  Moro
                settler heads of families were incorporated into the EDCOR
                (Alamada) in 1956[45].

            Problems  inherent in newly-formed settlements were also apparent in the EDCOR settlements and these can be best delineated into: 1)economic  b)social and c) political:
Economic Problems
            While contributions to agricultural production of rice and corn were clearly seen in the Kapatagan area, when in 1953, it was considered as the `rice bowl’ of the entire Lanao Province, disease and drought brought such glory to an end in 1959. As for EDCOR, government expectations on settlers’ productivity remained unfulfilled. Magsaysay attributed this to the characteristics of the settlers themselves. That is, the settler-dissidents were mostly, not farmers.
Social Problems
            Since the EDCOR was intended to rehabilitate and re-orient ex-Huks into becoming loyal and peace-loving citizens of the Republic, it was expected that the opportunities afforded to them as owner-cultivators in the farms, side by side with military men, would turn them into one. The EDCOR `experiment’ proved that loyal settlers were the most productive. Thus, the high rate of failures suggested that there were still a number of former Huks who were impervious to `rehabilitation’. Impliedly, this meant that the project would have to continue.
Political Problems
            It is obvious that a certain weakness on Magsaysay’s land resettlement structures was manifested as soon as he died. Apparently, the project’s (EDCOR and NARRA) continuation depended greatly upon the government’t tight supervision and fiscal policies. During the second half decade of EDCOR’s life, Magsaysay’s death in 1957 was a major disaster for the settlers. Gradually, the project was terminated; from the austere management of the Garcia administration up to its final abolition in 1968 by the Land Authority.
            Compounding lack of support for the project were landgrabbing complaints of the native Maguindanaoans; graft and corrupt practices of government officials e.g. grant of permit to a logging company, and the insecurity of the Kapatagan settlers in living in a strange environment without government support. It was thus inevitable that EDCOR settlers would want to settle elsewhere and look for the proverbial greener pastures.
            Moreover, part of the motivations behind the `land to the landless’ project, as discussed in this chapter, was mainly the desire to picture Ramon Magsaysay as the man of the `masses’. It was a time when the people lost their faith in the integrity of the established government. But true enough, Magsaysay’s peasant amelioration projects, combined with military determination to quell armed rebellion, not only diminished peasant support for the Huks and paved the way for its eventual downfall, but also catapulted him to the presidency. All these were possible with the tremendous support given to him by the United States which saw him as the defender of their so-called `showcase of democracy  in Asia’- the Philippines.
            No cultural conflict was yet discernible during this period since interaction between settlers and the natives was still minimal. The culture-gap would be noticeable when the settler would have to deal with the opposing land concept of the natives. They would be forced to face the natives as the EDCOR administration would give way to the Land Authority in 1967.
            On the whole, the most tangible proof of EDCOR’s success, however, was in the realm of counter-insurgency. As an AFP project under its psy-war operations, the EDCOR as the government’s `land for the landless’ project appeared as an effective argument against continuing the Huk rebellion. With the AFP appropriating this Huk slogan, the movement’s raison d’etre  vanished. Moreover, with the former soldiers and former rebels having to live together in one community, the former Huk settlers developed a certain degree of respect for the military, represented by Ramon Magsaysay as Secretary of Defense, in his effort to provide their necessities. Consequently, by the year 1952, the year before the presidential election, it was considered that Huk following had diminished and its influence over the peasants had gone.
            On Mindanao, the EDCOR project served as a model for the succeeding resettlement such as the NARRA  upon the election of Magsaysay to the presidency. NARRA became the successor of the abolished LASEDECO and opened settlement projects in Davao,Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon.  NARRA also opened settlements projects in Sulu and on Palawan and was considered the first serious effort of the government at resettlement. Unlike EDCOR, however, the project gave priority to landless farmers in congested areas of the country and to military retirees and trainees.
            An extension of the EDCOR project in Alamada was the Socio-Economic Military Project (SEMP) established in 1959. Unlike Kapatagan and Buldon, EDCOR-SEMP in Alamada was intended for soldiers, and later on, even Muslims were accommodated in the settlements. Apparently, the accommodation of Muslims was intended to silence the growing criticism of the Muslim natives that they were slowly being eased out in favour of the settlers from Luzon, by Huk rebels.
            The founding of SEMP in 1959 coincided with serious management problems in the Gallego farm in Buldon. Report of abuses reached in military, such as usurious credit, charging settlers for use of military vehicles at exorbitant rates, confiscation of work animals, farm lots and other property of the settlers. Added to these were landgrabbing cases of moneyed people and illegal loggers. Genaro Magsaysay, then a Senator, also reported that there were illegal land usurpation cases done by some rich people from Luzon in Alamada.
            Finally, resettlement as the government’s attempt to address its political, social and economic problems could be seen, with the EDCOR Mindanao as a case in point, follows the colonialists practice of incorporating northerners with southerners to subdue latent recalcitrance of rebels from both geographical regions.    



Abueva,Jose V. RAMON MAGSAYSAY: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY. Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House,1971.
Arcilla,S.J., Jose S. JESUIT MISSIONARY LETTERS FROM MINDANAO vol1. Q.C.:University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies,National Historical Institute and the UP Press,2000.
Armed Forces of the Phillippines. SURVEY OF PRODUCTIVITY n.p.,n.d.
Gowing,Peter Gordon. MANDATE IN MOROLAND. THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT OF MUSLIM FILIPINOS,1899-1920.Q.C. Philippine Center for Advanced Studies,1977.
Hayami,Yujiro, Quisumbing,Ma.Agnes R. And Adriano,Lourdes S. TOWARD AN ALTERNATIVE LAND REFORM PARADIGM. Q.C.: Ateneo de Manila 1990.
Keith,Agnes Newton. BARE FEET IN THE PALACE. Boston: An Atlantic Monthly Press Book,1953.
Lansdale,Edward Geary. IN THE MIDST OF WARS: AN AMERICAN MISSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. New York: Harper and Row Publishers,1972.
Muslim, Macapado. THE MORO ARMED STRUGGLE IN THE PHILIPPINES. Marawi: Office of the President and College of Public Affairs,MSU.1994.
Quirino,Carlos. MAGSAYSAY OF THE PHILIPPINES. Manila: RM Memorial Society,1964.
Scaff, Alvin H. THE PHILIPPINES ANSWER TO COMMUNISM. Calif.: Stanford University Press,1955.
Abaya-Ulindang,Faina C. “Slaves and Migrants in Mindanao During the late 18th toEarly 19th Centuries” MSU GRADUATE FORUM. Vol.5 nos 1&2 (2007)pp.187-225
Anonymous. “Magsaysay’s Claim to Edcor Authorship Exposed”(Pamphlet)
Armed Forces of the Philippines, “Survey of Productivity” n.p. n.d.
DAILY MIRROR 1956 clippings
MANILA TIMES 1949-63 clippings
MANILA CHRONICLE 1954 clippings
OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.51 no.6 June 1955
OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.5 May 1957
OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.6 June 1,1958
OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.12 September 30,1958
Porte,Catherine. “Ambitious Plans for Mindanao Announced.” FAR EASTERN SURVEY vol.vii (November 1938) pp.213-274.
Abaya-Ulindang,Faina C. “EDCOR and Counter-Insurgency: A Study of Economic Development Corps Settlements in Mindanao (1950-70)” Thesis Ph.D History. University of the Philippines.1996
Dow,Maynard Weston. “Counter-Insurgency and Nation-Building. A Comparative Study of Post-World War II Anti-Guerilla Settlement in Malaya,Philippines and South Vietnam.” Thesis. Ph.D Geography,Syracuse University. January 1965.


[1] Abaya-Ulindang,Faina.  “EDCOR and  Counter-Insurgency: A Study of the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR) Settlements in Mindanao (1950-70)”. Ph.D History Thesis. University of the Philippines-Diliman. 1996
[2] Abaya-Ulindang,Faina “Slaves and Migrants in Mindanao During the early 19th to late 20th Centuries: A Comparative Social History”. MSU GRADUATE FORUM .vol.5 nos.1&2(2007) pp. 187-205
[3] JESUIT MISSIONARY LETTERS FROM MINDANAO vol.1. Arcilla, Jose S. S.J. ed.,trans.,annotators. (Q.C.: University of the Philippines Center for Integrative & Development Studies, National Historical Institute and the UP Press,2000)
[4] See for example Gowing, Peter Gordon. MANDATE IN MOROLAND:THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT OF MUSLIM FILIPINOS,1899-1920. (Q.C.: Phil. Center for Advanced Studies,1977
[5] NDC was created in 1937. “It was allowed to contract lease agreements with foreign and domestic investors for exploitation of public agricultural and mineral lands over and above the 1,024 hectare limit stipulated by the 1935 Constitution. B.F.Goodrich and Goodyear Tires pioneered in establishing 1,000 ha. rubber plantation in 1919. It facilitated the development of large-scale plantations and the policy of encouraging small settlers in the “Land of Promise” which created contradictions in land-use policy in later years.” Hayami,Yujiro et al. TOWARD AN ALTERNATIVE LAND REFORM PARADIGM.(Q.C.: Ateneo de Manila Press,1990)p.43
[6] See for example, Abueva, Jose V. RAMON MAGSAYSAY: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY (Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House,1971)]

[7] Manila Times,January 19,1954. Cf. DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY OF THE PHILIPPINES. HUMAN SETTLEMENT PHILIPPINE FRONTIER SETTLEMENT MODELS:INVENTORY AND SUMMARY PROFILES. Prepared by the Frontier and Rural Settlement Research Team of the Rural Transformation Project.n.d. On p.506-`that there were 139 families as original settlers. There were a total of 352 residential lots of 600 square meters each, 140 farm lots of six hectares each by 1954,total area developed was 799,495 hectares.
[8] Scaff,Alvin H. THE PHILIPPINE ANSWER TO COMMUNISM.(California: Stanford University Press,1955)p.108
[9] From “Lanao Resettlement Project no.2.n.d.,n.p.photocopy fron Sapad Municipality Deparment of Agricultural Reforms(DAR) Records.
[10] Dow,Maynard  Winston , “Counter-insurgency and Nation-building: A Comparative Study of Post World War II Anti-Guerilla Settlement in Malaya, The Philippines and South Vietnam”.Thesis. Ph.D Geography .  Syracuse University.January 1965. P.121

[11] Lansdale,Edward ,IN THE MIDST OF WARS: AN AMERICAN MISSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA(New York: Harper and Row Publishers,1972)p.53

[12] Shalom,Stephen Rosskam, THE UNITED STATES AND THE PHILIPPINES: A STUDY ON NEOCOLONIALISM.(Q.C.:New Day Publishers,1986)pp.79-80

[13]  Scaff, op cit p.45
[14]  According to a military pamphlet: “The government promises an eight hectare farm, with a small nipa house in the middle of a 600 sq.meter lot, service and food rations and other forms of assistance in the first year of operation. A number of former Huks  have obtained homestead patents to their farm.”

[15] Armed Forces of the Philippines, SURVEY OF PRODUCTIVITY.n.p.(1957?)
[16] ibid.p.6
[17] Ibid.
[18] ibid.p.17
[19] ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] ibid.
[22] Scaff,op cit p.77
[23] ibid p.66
[24] ibid.
[25] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.51 no.6(June1955)p.ccl.
[26] ibid.

[27] Daily Mirror,April 5,1956
[28] Ramon Magsaysay died in a plane crach on March 17,1957 together with Secretary of Education Gregorio Hernancez,former Senator Tomas Cabili, Gen. Benito Ebuen (Chief of the Philippine Air Force),Congressmen Pedro Lopez,Manuel Zosa, and William Chiongbian, Jean Paredes, a lawyer, and other passengers totalling twenty-seven persons, excluding the crew. Only one person survived the disaster. The plane  Mount Pinatubo, hit the side of Mount Manunggal due to `metal fatigue breakage’.Quirino,Carlos .MAGSAYSAY OF THE PHILIPPINES (Manila: Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Society,1964) p.232
[29] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.51 no.6 (June 1955) p.cc1
[30] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol. 52 no.5 (May  7,1956) p.ccvii
[31] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.6(June 9,1956) p.dxiviii
[32] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.12 (September 30,1956)p.ccccivi-vii
[33] OFFICIAL GAZETTE vol.52 no.6 (June 9,1956)p.dxiviii]

[34] A film was made of Kapatagan EDCOR, the “Huk sa Bagong Pamumuhay” which starred popular actress Nida Blanco and Luis Gonzales(?) showing how miraculously the people and the place was transformed through the EDCOR project. From a brief written by Mr. Peredo,a former EDCOR settler, for this author’s research
[35] MANILA TIMES November 5,1959

[36] DAILY MIRROR December 22,1962
[37] MANILA TIMES ,October 30,1963

[38] Quoted by Mednick,Melvin  from a Maguindanaoan Informant in “Development Programs and the Moslems”p.38 cited in Dow,Maynard  op cit. p.127

[39] ibid
[40] ibid.p.128
[41] MANILA TIMES  January 23,1962. Also an informant during the author’s visit to the area, pointed to the places occupied by the Muslims in the settlement. These were located mainly on the peripheral mountainous area of the settlement.
[42] Dow op.cit  p.110
[43] ibid.p.113
[44] Paderanga,Jr.,C ayetano W. “A Review of Land Settlements in the Philippines” MINDANAO STUDIES REPORT no. 2  (UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies)p.18
[45] Dow, op cit.p.138


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thanks for the info. i have also a copy of book published in 1955...

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