Duterte instructs DAR to confer with Davao farmers on AVAs

news national 1 pix 1 march 252017TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (March 25, 2017)—President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) through the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee (PARC Excom) to meet with agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) belonging to three cooperatives and help them resolve their problems arising from the agri-business venture agreements (AVAs) they have entered into with banana business giant Marsman Estate Plantation, Inc. (MEPI).

DAR Undersecretary David Erro, who is also Council Secretary of PARC said the ARBs’ main problem is the revocation of the lease AVA between MEPI and the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (Damarbdevco), Sto. Tomas Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (Starbenco) and the Sto. Tomas Individual Farming Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (Sifarbco).

The lease AVA was approved for revocation by the PARC on September 12, 2016 due to complaints by the ARBs/cooperatives against MEPI for gross violations of several provisions of the contract of lease.

AVAs are contracts entered into by an ARB or group of ARBs, on one hand, and an investor, on the other, which involve the possession of the land; distribution of the produce of the land, and commitment of the owners to produce certain crops.

Erro said the President, who is also the PARC Chairperson, approved the revocation of the lease AVA because of his desire to help the poor farmers. “He [the President] did not renege and stands by his decision in the revocation of the AVA. But because he is fair and considerate, the President instructed us to hear the request of parties who want to continue their AVA with MEPI.”

Dialogue with the cooperatives

As instructed by the President, the DAR led by Erro and Undersecretary for Field Operations Marcos Risonar yesterday conducted a dialogue with ARBs belonging to Damarbdevco, Starbenco and Sifarbco.

Risonar said the President instructed the DAR to allow those ARBs/cooperatives who want to get out of the contract. He stressed that all the parties must be given the right to be heard and to guide the ARBs in coming up with their respective decisions on whether or not they shall opt to continue with the lease AVA with MEPI or enter into growership agreement or any other agreement that they want.news national 1 pix 2 march 25 2017

At the dialogue with the ARBs of the three cooperatives, Risonar said the Damarbdevco wants a “win-win” solution where they shall continue their relationship with MEPI under a separate agreement. They also want a favorable lease or growership agreement subject to a decision by the cooperative via a general assembly.

“The Starbenco group, at present is not the ones cultivating their lands. They wish to take possession of, be installed in and cultivate individually their respective landholdings. Its members expressed capability to cultivate and manage their farms and market their produce,” Risonar said.

He said the Starbenco group prefers individual farming and to enter into a growership arrangement with other corporations and not with MEPI.

Meanwhile Sifarbco also requests for physical possession of their respective property to cultivate and manage their landholdings by themselves.

“Sifarbco’s position is to enter into a growership arrangement, but not with MEPI. They said they are capable of producing, managing and marketing their produce,” Risonar said.

Next steps

news national 1 pix 3 march 25 2017“Now that we know the position of each cooperative with regard to their AVA with MEPI, the DAR and the PARC Excom will now formulate transition plans which would include provision of support services for ARBs among others,” said Erro.

Erro said the result of consultation with the three cooperatives would be presented to the President on the next PARC meeting on March 30, 2017.

Photo 1: DAR Undersecretary and Council Secretary of PARC David Erro assured the farmers of support from the DAR. Also in the panel from left to right: DAR-11 Assistant Regional Director Venchito Mandap, Regional Director Joseph Orilla, Erro, Undersecretary Marcos Risonar and PARC Secretariat Director James Arsenio Ponce.

Photo 2: A farmer-beneficiary showed to Erro where his lot is in the map. Looking on are DAR-11 Assistant Regional Director Venchito Mandap, Regional Director Joseph Orilla, and PARC Secretariat Director James Arsenio Ponce.

Photo 3: The ARBs belonging to the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (Damarbdevco), Sto. Tomas Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (Starbenco) and the Sto. Tomas Individual Farming Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (Sifarbco) pose for a photo with the DAR officials and the PARC Secretariat.

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DAR installs farmers in Negros Occidental

news national 2 pix 1 march 23. 2017The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently installed 114 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the cities of La Carlota and Kabankalan in Negros Occidental.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Lucrecia Taberna said 90 farmers were installed in the 53-hectare area in the landholdings of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in Hda. Santillana in Brgy. Camingawan in Kabankalan City.   “The installation was made possible through the partnership between the DAR and the Social Action Center of the city,” she said.

Meanwhile, 24 ARBs were installed in a 41-hectare land previously owned by BJ Agricultural Corporation in Hda. De Agua, Brgy. Cubay in La Carlota City.

Taberna said the DAR is willing to extend all available supports that may help the farmers for them to become productive and attain sustainable livelihoods.

“All I ask of you is not to engage in the “ariendo” system which is a violation of the existing contract, and a ground for disqualification and eventual ejection from the land,” Taberna said.news national 2 pix 2 march 23 2017

Arriendo system is an informal leasing arrangement that is not authorized by the Agrarian Reform Department. This system puts farmer beneficiaries at a disadvantage as they only receive very cheap rentals from arriendadors. 

Taberna challenged the farmer-beneficiaries to defend and assert their rights as the new owners of the awarded lands and to make their land productive. (Drexel Glen Pajarilla)

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‘The PARC should be a functioning committee’ – Ka Paeng

news national 1 pix 1 march 23 2017MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (March 23, 2017)—Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano said this to the members of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM) who met for a two-day conference to craft solutions and recommendations on challenges that impede in the implementation of agrarian reform here.

Mariano who is the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee (PARC Excom) Chairman said the PARC during the previous administrations did not meet for about 10 years.

“The PARC is the highest policy-making body for agrarian reform in the country. If it is stagnant, the agrarian reform program will not move forward and our farmers will remain poor and unjustly treated,” Mariano said.

“Under my watch, I want the PARC to be a functioning committee. A committee that works hard for the rights and welfare of farmers,” Mariano added. 

Mariano also explained his thrusts and policy direction to the PARCOMM members. He said his administration is geared towards the promotion of farmers’ rights and welfare, ensuring food security in the country and rural development.

Inter-PARCCOM convention

With the theme “Promoting synergism of CARP stakeholders towards a more responsive agrarian reform implementation,” the convention was spearheaded by the PARCCOM members of Bukidnon. 

PARC Secretariat Director James Arsenio Ponce said the convention is a semestral activity of the five PARCCOMs of Region 10. “These five PARCCOMs met to deliberate problems and issues concerning agrarian reform. In the convention, the PARCCOM members formulated necessary legislations and policies for recommendation to the PARC.”news national 1 pix 2 march 23 2017

“Conventions like these are also avenues for PARCCOM members to learn from each other’s best practices in implementing agrarian reform,” Ponce said.

The PARCCOM is the provincial counterpart of the PARC Executive Committee (ExCom) and the partners of the PARC Secretariat. They are tasked with the coordination and monitoring of the programs and activities implemented by the agrarian reform program implementing agencies at the field level.

PARCCOM Members are composed of representatives from sectors of landowners, farmer-beneficiaries, farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations. It is also has as members comprising of one representative each from the Departments of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The Inter-PARCCOM convention was held at Loiza’s Pavilion in Casisang, Malabalay City on March 21-22, 2017. 

Photo 1: Secretary Mariano speaking before the PARCCOMs of Region 10.

Photo 2: PARC Secretariat Director James Arsenio Ponce.

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DAR, LBP to go automated land amortization collection

news national 3 pix 1 march 22 2017GOOD news for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). They will be spared from the tedious process of accomplishing payment slips for annual land amortization as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has gone high-tech, availing itself of the SIM-based wireless point of sale-type mobile automated collection system.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said the device works conveniently for the ARBs as they only need to hand to the field collectors of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) their annual land amortization dues and they will be provided receipts right there and then.

Called the Portable Agrarian Reform Collection System (PARCS), it works like the fare ticketing system being employed by taxi operators, a big departure from the tedious process of accomplishing copies of payment slips.

The use of the automated device for land amortization collection was approved in the 135th meeting of Executive Committee of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) recently. It is awaiting final approval of the PARC, which, in turn, would endorse it to the DAR for funding before it will finally be implemented by the LBP.

LBP representative, lawyer Marife Pascua, describes PARCS as a mobile collection system that is a “full end-to-end solution to the land amortization collection,” with a device attached to the LBP’s Agrarian Reform Receivable System (ARRS) main frame where names of existing farmer beneficiaries are already uploaded for quick processing.

The device is deemed as the key to hasten collection of land amortization payments from farmer-beneficiaries.

A study commissioned by the DAR showed that from 1987 to 2004, estimated collectibles from land amortization payments reached as high as P14.3 billion, of which only P2.5 billion or 18 percent of the said amount had been collected.

Entitled: The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program: Scenarios and Options for Future Development, the study found out that collection of amortization payments has been constrained with high transaction costs. Administrative cost of setting up a system for collecting amortization payments from beneficiaries is said to be higher than the collectible amount.

With the device, Ms. Pascua said LBP field collectors can directly transact business with the farmer-beneficiaries, collect their land amortization payments and immediately issue corresponding receipts.

“The payment is immediately posted on real time to the LBP’s ARRS,” she said .

Aside from the receipt, Ms. Pascua added that a farmer-beneficiary, who made land amortization payment, would also receive a text message on the payment as the short message service (SMS) facility is integrated into the PARCS system.

Besides, she said, the system can also generate automatically a ‘certificate of full payment’ and a ‘release of real estate mortgage’ once the concerned farmer-beneficiary had already made full payment of his land amortization.

Moreover, Ms. Pascua said, the LBP intends to upgrade the PARCS as a micro-loan facility for farmer-beneficiaries and as an instrument for collection of real estate taxes, as well as, for savings and withdrawal transactions.

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Ka Paeng bestowed with Bukidnon emblems

news national 2 pix 1 march 22 2017MALAYBALAY, Bukidnon (March 21, 2017)—Agrarian reform Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano was bestowed with a vest, necklace and hat bearing the emblems of the Bukidnon tribe. 

The vestments were given as a gift by Datu Telesforo Bolivia, a member of the Bukidnon Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM) representing the Indigenous Peoples (IPs). He said the emblems that are beaded and stitched in the garments represent the cultural heritage of his tribe.

“These emblems embody and signify our acceptance, trust and legitimate recognition of Secretary Mariano’s indefatigable leadership to pursue the concerns of the IPs and his commitment to implement agrarian reform in Region 10,” Bolivia said.

Mariano is currently in Bukidnon for the two-day Inter-Provincial Agrarian Reform Council Committee Convention (PARCCOM) here.

Mariano, who chairs the PARC Executive Committee said that this PARCCOM convention aims to formulate solutions to problems that hinders the implementation of agrarian reform in Region 10. (pinky roque)

Photo: Secretary Mariano, assisted by PARCCOM Presiding Officer Aurora Salahag, wears the vestments bearing the emblems of the Bukidnon tribe given by Datu Telesforo Bolivia.

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