DAR orders coverage of reservation area

on . Posted in DAR In The News
TheStandardAFTER 27 years, the Department of Agrarian Reform ordered on Friday the coverage of 3,873 hectares of a reservation area inside the University of Southern Mindanao and Cotabao Foundation College of Science and Technology under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The order followed Friday’s dialogue with the farmers from the USM and Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (Marbai) in the town of Arakan, North Cotabato, and Anakpawis Rep.

Ariel Casilao at the Department of Agrarian Reform central office in Quezon City.

Secretary Rafael Mariano assured the farmers the unused portion of agricultural lands previously covered by the USM reservation would be awarded to them.

“DAR stands firm that the thousands of hectares of unused landholding proclaimed for the use of, or titled to the USM of the CFCST, should be awarded to the farmers who are actually and directly cultivating them,” Mariano said.

Farmer-occupants of the property have been engaged in a protracted struggle for land ownership since then President Carlos Garcia allotted some 7,200-hectare land as reservation for the university.

The farmers belonging to Marbai were targets of several attacks by alleged goons of Lapanday Foods Corp. in December 2016.

They were dispossessed of the 145-hectare banana plantation when about 300 security guards forced them out of the landholdings on Dec. 31.

After the dialogue, Mariano signed a memorandum directing agrarian reform officials to cover the disputed reservation area under the agrarian reform program despite the absence of a deed of transfer from the USM and CFCST.

“The lands or some of its portions that are reserved by virtue of presidential proclamation for specific public uses shall be segregated from the reservation and transferred to DAR for distribution under CARP to qualified beneficiaries if the two conditions are present that the lands or portions thereof are suitable for agriculture, and if the same is determined by department, in coordination with concerned government agencies or instrumentalities, as no longer actually, directly and exclusively or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved,” DAR said.

On Feb. 9, DAR legal team, led by Mariano, met with the schools’ board of trustees and board of regents to resolve the issue on the immediate distribution of the reservation land to the 2,110 potential farmer beneficiaries. 

But the schools’ officials could not reach an agreement on who among them had the authority to sign the deeds of transfer, prompting DAR to acquire and distribute the property.

“Since February up to now, we have been waiting for them to give us the deeds of transfer. Since we see no legal impediment to prevent the USM or the CFCST from turning over to DAR portions of its landholdings, I will give the order today (Friday) to commence with covering those lands under CARP for distribution to potential farmer-beneficiaries,” the agrarian reform chief said.

Source: http://thestandard.com.ph/news/national/233258/dar-orders-coverage-of-reservation-area.html