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Hacienda Luisita farmers confer with Mariano and his officials

news reg 1 pix 1 feb. 15 2017TARLAC CITY (Feb. 15, 2017)—Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano directed the department’s field operations office to conduct validation of farmer-beneficiaries and the [DAR] regional office to give farmers free legal advice and to take the necessary steps in resolving problems in agrarian matters.

Mariano promised to look into all of their concerns on agrarian matters. “The doors of the department are open for you. We will hear your problems on land and farming and provide support services to increase tour productivity,” Mariano said.

In a dialogue conducted by the DAR conducted yesterday, more than 200 farmers in Barangay Balete aired their issues and concerns to the Secretary and his officials on agrarian land problems and to ask for support services in tilling their awarded lands.

Undersecretary for field operations Marcos Risonar Jr. said they will start conducting the validation process of the beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita this March.

“The validation process is our initial step towards resolving the various issues confronting the 10 barangays of Luisita and its beneficiaries. This process would also determine the lands for distribution and the number of potential beneficiaries,” said Risonar.

Risonar said the validation process involves interviews with farmer-beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries. “Upon interviewing, the farmers should present their proof of identity and proof of relationship with the Hacienda Luisita Inc. and the ARB-cooperatives,” Risonar said.news reg 1 pix 2 feb. 15 2017

“However, we would like to stress that the interview is just part of the gathering of information stage. The qualification of the agrarian reform beneficiaries is a long process but we will do our best to speed things up,” said Risonar.

The farmers, who are mostly sugarcane farmers and farmworkers, also asked for fertilizers, farm machines, access to loan, irrigation, farm trainings, modern farm technology, farm tractors, medical support, seeds, and livelihood projects.

Undersecretary for support services Rosalina Bistoyong assured the farmers that the department has lined up projects and programs to help them in their farming needs.

She said under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support (ARCCESS), 10 farm tractors would be given to them to ensure the productivity of their lands.

“Before the month of March ends, 10 farm tractors will be turned over to your agrarian cooperatives. It is important that you are a member of agrarian reform beneficiary organization (ARBOs) to be able to use the tractors,” Bistoyong said. 

“You can also avail of credit assistance through the agrarian production credit program (APCP) of the DAR with the Land Bank,” said Bistoyong.

news reg 1 pix 3 feb. 15 2017She said under the APCP, ARB household members, particularly those who have recently acquired their landholdings through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) will be provided with loans for crop production.  These loans will be coursed through ARB organizations and farmer organizations (other than ARBOs) that shall act as credit conduits for their respective members.

Bistoyong encouraged the farmers to be a member of farmers’ organizations. She stressed the importance of organizing themselves into ARBOs for faster flow of support services.

“The DAR would be able to help more of you if you are organized into bona fide farmers’ cooperatives. Through your cooperative, projects and programs of the Department like access to credit and livelihood programs will be available for you,” Bistoyong said.

Mariano and his officials was in Tarlac to distribute certificates of land ownership awards to 111 farmers of Hacienda Luisita. (pinky roque)

Photo 1:  Secretary Rafael Mariano

Photo 2:  Undersecretary for field operations Marcos Risonar Jr.

Photo 3:  Undersecretary for support services Rosalina Bistoyong

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