For a long period of time, the agrarian system of Philippines was being controlled by the large landlords. The small farmers in Philippines were struggling for their rights to land and other natural resources. It was observed that about 2.9 million small farms occupied about half of the total arable land of Philippines, whereas the medium and large farms occupied about 11.5% of the total farmland. The agrarian system in Philippines followed a feudalistic approach.
The implementation of Agrarian reforms proceeded at a very slow pace. This was due to the lack of political will. The redistribution of land was also very slow. As a consequence, a large amount of agrarian land in Philippines was converted to industrial land.
The Republic Act No. 6657, alternatively called the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was signed by President Corazon C. Aquino on 10th June, 1988. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law is responsible for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Philippines. The law focussed on industrialisation in Philippines together with social justice.
The primary objective of instituting the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform law was to successfully devise land reform in Philippines. It was President Arroyo, who signed the Executive Order No. 456 on 23rd August to rename the Department of Land Reform as Department of Agrarian Reform. This had been done to expand the functional area of the law. Apart from land reform, the Department of Agrarian Reform began to supervise other allied activities to improve the economic and social status of the beneficiaries of land reform in Philippines.