Lease, sale of awarded lands probed

on . Posted in DAR In The News
abscbn newscomMANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has been monitoring and investigating reports of the illegal lease and sale of lands awarded to farmer-beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
DAR made this clarification following reports that Virginia Torres, former chief of the Land Transportation Office, has been leasing or renting out parcels of agricultural lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the hacienda.

“I ordered our regional and provincial offices to investigate the reported leasing in the hacienda even before Ms. Torres made her public statement,” DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes said.

The leasing of awarded lands is illegal.

“Under the law, the transfer of rights to possess CARP distributed lands, such as leases must be approved by the government before it can be undertaken,” DAR undersecretary for legal affairs Luis Meinrado Pañgulayan said.

Pañgulayan said any leasing out of agricultural lands without the approval of the government is illegal. Erring beneficiaries may face penalties under Republic Act 6657 or the CARP Law.

“The unlawful leasing of land may also be a ground for the cancellation of the titles awarded to the beneficiaries,” he said.

The DAR official said they are looking into possible penalties on the part of the lessees.

Hacienda Luisita was distributed to more than 6,000 farmers beneficiaries from 2013 to 2014, in compliance with a directive of the Supreme Court.

The reports of illegal leasing activities came amid the assistance being provided by the government to the farmer-beneficiaries. The assistance was meant to ensure the viability of the agrarian activities in the area.

Pañgulayan said the support services programs would assist the new landowners not only in Luisita, but also in other parts of the country.

These programs are meant to prevent the beneficiaries from being enticed to sell their rights over lands awarded to them.