The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary for Field Operations Office Marcos D. Risonar Jr. with Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Project Office Sylvia F. Mallari and local government officials recently convened the 500 farmers from North Cotabato in a consultative dialogue in Davao City.
The dialogue delved on immediate distribution of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST) reservation land in Arakan, North Cotabato, that they have been cultivating pursuant to the provisions of RA 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as amended by RA 9700.
Risonar said the group appealed for the coverage and distribution of a reserved area of 5,018.3697 hectares of University of Southern Mindanao, which have not been actually, directly, and exclusively used to be necessary for the purpose for which the proclamation was issued.
The 2,110 potential farmer beneficiaries are actual occupant of the area from the group of Mailuminado Farmers Association Inc. (MAFAI), Arakan Progressive Peasant Organization (APPO), Tinanan Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa (TIKULPA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Cotabato) and Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC) in Arakan, North Cotabato.
Under Executive Order No. 407, series of 1990, as amended by Executive Order 448, series of 1991, the DAR, in coordination with the government agency or instrumentality concerned in whose favor the reservation was established, is empowered to determine whether such land or portion thereof, which have been reserved by PD. 428, are suitable for agriculture and are no longer actually, directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purposes for which they have been reserved.
The DAR is also mandated to segregate such portion, and the government agency, or instrumentality to transfer the same to the DAR, for distribution to qualified beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Risonar said DAR North Cotabato still stand to its approach to resolve the problem through close coordination and collaboration with involved institutions CFCST, Commission of Higher Education (CHED), Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units (LGUs) as per mandate of E.O 407 as amended by E.O.448 and further amended by E.O. No. 506.
He added that the Deed of Transfer must be executed immediately so that the documentation and processes can be started right away.
Present during the negotiation are CHED Commissioner of Ronald Adamat, Hon. Jesus Sacdalan, 1ST District of Cotabato Representative, Hon. Nancy Cotamco, 2nd District of Cotabato Representative, Thadeus Tularan (representative of Acting Cotabato Governor Sherlyn Macasarte), Vice Mayor of Arakan Hon. Jennifer Anorma Pangilinan, Regional Director Nasser M. Musali, Director III Marion Y. Abella, Office of the DAR Secretary Joebert Pahilga, DAR Assistant Director for BLAD Joey Sumatra and DAR Officials of Region 12.
To settle the issues, a joint board meeting was scheduled on February 9, 2017 with Board of Regents of the USM and Board of Trustees of CFCST where the key officials from the DAR, CFCST, CHED, DENR and LGUs are enjoined to attend to give support to the farmers.
Cecilio Carmelo, 62 years old, Chairman of Mailuminado Farmers Association, Inc. (MAFAI) said that most of the present actual occupants are generation of original tillers who had been in the area even before the creation of CFCST in 1963.
“We are the rightful owners of the land,” Carmelo said.
Photo 1: Before the negotiation, DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Office Marcos D. Risonar Jr. with DAR 12 RD Nasser M. Musali and the group of farmers in front of the DAR Regional Office XI, Davao City.
Photo 2: Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Project Office Sylvia F. Mallari with a group of farmers consisting of at least 500 individuals, who have staged a protest in front of the DAR Regional Office XI, Davao City.
Photo 3: During the negotiation, from the right, CHED Commissioner of Ronald Adamat, Hon. Nancy Cotamco, 2nd District of Cotabato Representative, USEC Risonar, Thadeus Tularan (representative of Acting Cotabato Governor Sherlyn Macasarte), DAR USEC Sylvia Mallari, PARPO Marion Abella and Regional Director Nasser M. Musali.