DAR allots P1.26 billion for 2014 land acquisition, distribution

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business mirrorA TOTAL of P1.26 billion was allotted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the acquisition and distribution (LAD) of private agricultural lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) this year.
Of the total, P852 million was allotted for some 240,707 hectares of land to be acquired and subsequently distributed to qualified farmer-beneficiaries, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said.

Also within the year, the DAR is pipelining around 60,706 hectares for distribution in 2015 and for which the agency has allotted P412 million

On top of the 2014 budgeted LAD target, the DAR is also set to distribute approximately 24,000 hectares, representing 15 percent of the 160,000 budgeted LAD target last year which the agency failed to accomplish.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes promised that 2014 will be a better year in implementing the CARP, saying most of the DAR’s targeted land had been issued notices of coverage before the end of 2013.

The notices of coverage issued by the DAR include the 358 hectares owned by the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), a company of President Aquino’s family.

As of January 2014, the DAR has accomplished 88.8 percent of the 5.4 million hectares of its CARP scope, leaving its LAD balance at approximately 734,355 hectares.

Even with the successful distribution of the DAR’s budgeted LAD target for 2014, the DAR is still faced with the challenge of distributing the remaining balance of 493,648 hectares.

Also, the DAR is set to release within the month a new guideline for LAD to step up the process.

Under the proposed guideline, the number of documents required by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) in the conduct of joint field investigation with the DAR of the property being covered, as well as in land valuation, will be reduced.

The conduct of joint field investigation with the DAR and the land valuation of the property being covered by the CARP take at least eight-and-a-half months.

Also, the new guideline being drafted by the DAR will further streamline the LAD process so as to shorten the time spent for the process.

Parungao said they plan to put in place one joint DAR-LandBank review of claim folders to ensure completeness and appropriateness of documents prior to submission to LandBank for valuation.

Also, a new Web-based computerized LAD database will be put in place next month to simplify the work at the field level and make it easier for the DAR Central Office to monitor the progress of work at all levels.

The DAR has been the subject of criticisms by agrarian-reform advocates and leaders of militant farmers’ organizations for its snail-paced dismal performance, citing the case of Hacienda Luisita, the distribution of which was only completed late last year. The distribution was ordered by the Supreme Court in its final and executory ruling on April 24, 2012, after almost a decade of legal battle put up by the Cojuangco-Aquino family in an attempt to avert a 2004 Presidential Agrarian Reform Council decision that canceled the stock-distribution scheme, which was implemented for Hacienda Luisita since 1989.

The CLOA distribution, covering a total of 4,009 hectares portion of the vast sugar estate formerly owned by the family of President Aquino, benefitted 6,212 qualified farmer-beneficiaries, who got approximately 6,000 square meters each.

Hacienda Luisita was the biggest landholding ever to be distributed by the DAR in the history of the CARP, which was started in 1987 during the presidency of President Corazon Aquino, the President’s mother.

However, despite the CLOAs having been distributed by the DAR, the farmer-beneficiaries are still waiting to be installed in their assigned farm lots.

The DAR has yet to complete the land survey for purpose of monumenting or putting up markings, called mojons, in preparation for the installation of the farmer-beneficiaries.

The land survey cannot be done until the sugar canes planted in some areas have been harvested. The harvest period of sugarcane is between November and February. (by Jonathan L. Maguya, 7 Jan 2014)

Source: http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/25523-dar-allots-p1-26-billion-for-2014-land-acquisition-distribution