September 7-9, 2009
An Integral Component of Freedom: Replication
Seminar on Property Rights
Property continues to be a volatile issue in the Philippines. In
order to understand the reasons behind this and why property rights
are vital to the country’s development, the Friedrich Naumann
Foundation for Liberty (FNF) Alumni
and the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) organized
a seminar on freedom and property for local government officials
and civil society representatives from 07-09 September 2009 in Pasig
Emmanuel de Dios, dean of the University
of the Philippines School of Economics, started the seminar
by laying down the basics. Drawing from western philosophy, he
talked about property rights as intrinsically linked to
the individual’s aim for liberty, well-being and progress.
He explained that a strong state is needed to
protect these rights. However, de Dios acknowledged, there will
always be tension between the state and the individual.
A state strong enough to protect property rights
can also use its power to take and reallocate them.
Unfortunately in the case of the Philippines, problems with property
rights flourish because of a weak state and inadequate,
inefficient structures. Dr.
Arturo Corpuz, vice president for Urban and Regional Planning
of Ayala Land, explained
the difficulties his company encounters as problems with: ownership,
documentation and process, zoning and access.
Of all of those things, it is land ownership that remains the
main problem for the majority of Filipinos. This is exactly why
the government, according to Manuel Gerochi, co-chairman of the
Land Administration and Management
Phase 2, instituted the Land Administration project.
Inspired, to some degree, by the work of the Peruvian economist
Hernando de Soto
, Gerochi described this project
as “a 15 – 20 year commitment of the Philippine Government
to alleviate poverty and to sustain economic growth by improving
the security of land tenure and by fostering efficient land markets
in rural and urban areas.”
In response to the discussions of Corpuz and Gerochi, Christine
Lao, international legal and justice sector specialist of the
Asian Development Bank, reiterated
what de Dios said at the beginning of the seminar: property rights
must be defended by a strong state. However she went further and
stressed the importance of the rule of law and
its role as an instrument of freedom.
A weakening of the rule of law
was indeed one of
cited by Dr.
, FEF chairman, for the financial crisis
He pointed out that corruption in the U.S. financial system and
regulatory failures led to the meltdown. It is not a problem
of the free market
as such and thus is not a liberal
. However, the financial crisis is a crisis
of an oversimplified belief in the inherent stability of
that paid too little attention
to the valid case for basic regulation
. It is an
important indicator of the need for an efficient rule of law to
keep markets free and competitive. The danger is that governments
might overcorrect now and smother markets in badly crafted regulation
Property rights are more than just titles to land. Bienvenido
Oplas Jr., president of Minimal
Government Thinkers, pointed out that these also include an
individual’s intellectual creation and the production of
After the discussions, the participants deepened their understanding
of the subject in several group work sessions. This was in order
to clarify their understanding of property rights and to look
at the moral and economic legitimacy of property. They also reflected
on how to apply what they learned to their own work back home.
“The workshop has given participants a chance to deepen
their understanding of property rights in the context of the Philippines
and to gain insights into the many ways in which government, including
local government can make a difference. They also saw how
crucial sound property rights and their efficient administration
are to the nation’s development,” summarized
Siegfried Herzog, FNF resident representative.
Please click on a speaker’s name to view their presentations.
Presentations available are those of: Dr.
Emmanuel de Dios, Dr.
Arturo Corpuz, Dr.
Felipe Medalla and Bienvenido
Please click here
to watch the video with Hernando de Sotto: Capitalism at the
Crossroads: Unlocking the Power of the Poor