DESPITE protests, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is set to distribute on Friday in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Tarlac City, the last batch of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) for Hacienda Luisita beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said some 700 farmer-beneficiaries in the said barangay would be awarded their CLOAs, which are considered as “proof of ownership” of the CARP-awarded land.
The distribution will officially conclude the three-week distribution process of the vast sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Tarlac.
A total of 4,099 hectares of the original 5,916 hectare sugar estate was distributed as ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) in April last year.
The distribution process started with the identification of qualified beneficiaries in May last year, or a month after the DAR officially received the SC order.
The distribution of the CLOAs started on September 30.
As of Thursday the DAR has distributed a total of 5,254 CLOAs, including the 665 CLOAs distributed to a total of 449 farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Balete on that day.
Parugao said only 135 CLOAs remain undistributed as of October 16.
He disputed claims made by the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) that farmer-beneficiaries have been boycotting the CLOA distribution.
UMA, along with the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita, is questioning the land-distribution process. The groups also criticized the DAR for threatening to disqualify farmer-beneficiaries who refused to sign a document signifying the farmer-beneficiaries’ willingness to follow the terms imposed by CARP rules.
A farmer-beneficiary of CARP needs to pay for the land based on its land value, in the case of Hacienda Luisita, P70,000 for the entire 6,600 square meters, payable within 30 years.
The beneficiaries are also required to cultivate the CARP-awarded land to make it productive. Land transfer or sale of the land is allowed only after 10 years from the time the land has been fully paid.
Parungao said farmers even braved the rain to get their much-awaited CLOAs during the past week.
“The distribution went on despite the bad weather. Our commitment was to complete the distribution so in spite of the typhoon, we proceeded with the distribution,” he said.
For Hacienda Luisita, the DAR has generated a total of 6,515 CLOAs, 6,506 of which have been registered with the Registry of Deeds. A total of nine more are in the process of registration.
Hacienda Luisita, owned by President Aquino’s family, is the biggest landholding ever to be distributed by the DAR during the 24-year implementation of CARP.
The program started during the term of President Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, and forms the centerpiece of the first Aquino administration’s social justice program after the People Power Revolution in 1986.
Meanwhile, Parungao said a total of 296 lot allocation certificates, or 4.7 percent of the 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries, have yet to be claimed. A total of 339, or 5.45 percent of the total number of farmer-beneficiaries, have not yet signed the application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking (Apfu).
He said the farmers who refuse to sign the Apfu will be disqualified and the land allocated for them will be awarded to other qualified beneficiaries.
After Friday’s distribution in Barangay Mapalacsiao, the DAR will focus on monumenting or putting mojons. He said the remaining CLOAs will still have to be generated for those who recently signed their Apfus. The CLOAs, he said, will also have to be registered before the Registry of Deeds in Tarlac. (Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga)