Agrarian-reform exec denies ‘padding’ accomplishment report

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businessworld OLAN official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Sunday belied allegations that the agency is padding figures in its accomplishment report to make it appear that the agency is living up to the people’s expectations.
Jose Grageda, DAR’s undersecretary for Field Operations maintained that the DAR’s accomplishment report in terms of land acquisition and distribution is factual and reflects the true status of agrarian reform as far as land acquisition and distribution (LAD) is concerned.
The DAR issued a statement in response to the allegations made by agrarian reform advocates during a hearing of the agrarian reform committee in the House of Representatives on February 5.
The official was referring to allegations made by the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (Sara) and Task Force Mapalad (TFM) hitting the DAR for including in its 2013 accomplishment report the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita formerly owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.
Covered by CARP in Hacienda Luisita is approximately 4,335 hectares, 4,009 hectares of which were distributed equally to the 6,212 farmer-beneficiaries in the last quarter of 2013, according to the DAR
However, the farmer-beneficiaries have yet to be physically installed in their CARP-awarded land as of February 9.
According to Grageda, the TFM brought up early last year the issue of padding figures by the DAR claiming discrepancy between the DAR’s preliminary report of 2012 accomplishment and those reported by the Land Registration Authority (LRA).
He explained that final validated accomplishment data are not usually available during the first two months of the year.
“However, when there are requests for information on accomplishment from the public or the legislators, the DAR consolidates preliminary data reported by its field offices and releases a preliminary accomplishment report,” Grageda said.
The official cited the Joint DAR-LRA Memorandum Circular 20, Series of 1997, the reckoning date of LAD accomplishment is the date when the certificate of land ownership and awards (CLOAs) are manually recorded in the Primary Entry Book, or as in the case today, when the Registry of Deeds assigns the Electronic Primary Entry Book (EPEB) number to each CLOA.
Furthermore, the joint memorandum circular stated that “those CLOAs entered in the Primary Entry Book as of December 31 shall be signed by the Register of Deeds as soon as possible but not later than end of January of the ensuing calendar year.  Any validation of accomplishment shall be conducted after January 31.” Because of the validation process, the DAR field offices cannot pad their accomplishments; nor can the central office, he said.
The final 2012 accomplishment reported by the DAR after validation by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officers with the Registries of Deeds was consistent LRA records, he said.
“The DAR has always based its data on the EP/CLOAs that they are able to register with the Register of Deeds.  This is why the figures on Hacienda Luisita are now included in the 2013 report,” he said.
Jaime Tadeo, spokesman of Sara recently criticized the DAR for including these figures when they have yet to install the beneficiaries.
Leaders of Sara and TFM have been calling for an overhaul of the DAR leadership, starting with the ouster of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, who they accused of being pro-landlord.
Sources said that Sara is pushing for the appointment by President Aquino of an undersecretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission in lieu of de los Reyes.
In earlier interviews, the embattled de los Reyes said lands which were easier to distribute make up bulk of past distributed lands and that under Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms, what remains to be distributed are mostly private agricultural lands or those considered “problematic” because of missing land titles or conflicting land classification.