Land distribution to landless farmers can go beyond the CARP extension- DAR Sec.

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BAGUIO CITY, June 23 (PIA) - - Distribution of agricultural lands to landless farmers can go beyond the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s (CARP) extension deadline by 2016.

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio de Los Reyes  announced this during a press conference at the Eurotel Hotel here, which topics include the Anniversary of CARP and the UN declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming.

De Los Reyes pointed-out that the government’s duty to distribute lands to landless farmers is not bound by any deadline since  it is a constitutional mandate.

He also  expressed  that CARP will not expire  even with Republic Act 9700 - the law that extended the program until 2016, because there are still agricultural lands in the country that are not yet covered by the program.

“There is a database in 2009 (for landholdings to be distributed under CARP) but the problem is there in no existing database in the country that shows us which land is CARP covered or not”, de Los Reyes said.  

He explained  that subtracting the 6,964,119 hectares of CARP distributed lands from the 14,194,675 total hectares of Alienable and Disposable (A&D) land in the country, there are still 6,323,904 hectares of A&D lands in the country  where some can be un-identified agricultural lands that can also be distributed to farmers under CARP.

“The problem here is in the issued land titles, it is not identified if a land is agricultural or not. We cannot also rely on tax declaration or to zoning ordinances (in identifying agricultural lands)”, de Los Reyes stressed.

Meantime, as both House of Congress went into recess without passing the CARP - “Notice of Coverage” extension bill, de Los Reyes affirmed that the Department still has  one and a half year of work as far as distribution of lands is concerned.

De Los Reyes reported as of January 1, 2014, DAR still has land acquisition and distribution (LAD) balance of 771,795 hectares, which include 220,520 hectares that were tagged as problematic landholdings.

The Secretary remains optimistic that President Benigno Aquino III will mention again the NOC Extension bill (as a priority bill) in his July State of the Nation Address, so that Congress can immediately pass it into a law.

He also assured DAR employees that there will be no re-organization for the department yet as there are still no law enacted or an Executive Order signed for such purpose. (JDP/CCD – PIA CAR)