MANILA, Philippines—Some 8,410 landholdings comprising 78,303 hectares of land have yet to be covered by the agrarian reform program three days before the law expires, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said on Saturday.
These are the private agricultural landholdings that have not been issued Notices of Coverage (NOC) which would allow the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to acquire and distribute them beyond the June 30 deadline.
But De los Reyes noted that for half of these landholdings, the NOCs had actually been sent out, except that the agency had not received confirmation of their receipt from the owners, or the NOCs had not yet been published.
The DAR publishes NOCs in a general circulation newspaper when the landowners refuse to receive the NOCs personally delivered to them; when the NOC was received by persons other than the landowners; or if the address is unknown or vague.
The agency has prepared NOCs to be sent out for most of the 78,303 hectares of land, except for 32,360 hectares that are still in the process of preparation.
Most of these are small landholdings 10 hectares and less because “we want the field to concentrate on the larger landholdings,” De los Reyes said. “For the rest, NOCs have been prepared and are awaiting delivery or publication or confirmation of delivery,” he added.
Excluding the figures for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, only 7,828 landholdings spread out over 70,094 hectares had not been issued NOCs as of June 25, De los Reyes said.
The official dismissed fears the government would be unable to cover and distribute agricultural lands beyond the June 30 deadline.
He said Congress could still pass the bill extending the period the DAR is authorized to serve NOCs to distributable landholdings, allowing the agency to continue acquiring and distributing them.
“There’s no law saying that the period for the issuance of NOCs could no longer be extended after June 30. Congress can still pass the bill once it resumes sessions,” De los Reyes said.
The official said that some quarters were trying to alarm the public by claiming the DAR would be toothless after the deadline.