TAGBILARAN CITY, March 10 – Free land distribution, at the core of genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform is one of the six sector outcome and legislative agenda backed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP).
This was announced today by the DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano before the 122 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) during the agrarian reform beneficiaries' (ARBs) Summit in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
PDP 2017-2022 is the first concrete step towards the realization of AmBisyon Natin 2040 of President Duterte that aims the country to be a prosperous middle class society where no one is poor, people live long and healthy lives, and are smart and innovative.
President Duterte promised to study the proposal of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) Executive Committee to certify Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 555 as urgent during the PARC Council Meeting last Feb 28.
Free land distribution covers all public and private agricultural lands exceeding five hectares; lands that have been declared and/or reserved for non-agricultural uses but remain unutilized and undeveloped; and lands that have been reclassified or converted for commercial, industrial or residential uses but have remained undeveloped and previously used for agricultural purposes.
Other sector outcomes and legislative agenda mainly pushed by DAR are: security of tenure, condonation of interest in the non-payment of amortization, utilization of coconut levy fund, free irrigation services, and agrarian justice.
Security of tenure aims to ensure that awarded lands are in the hands and control of farmer-beneficiaries.
The DAR pushes that coco levy funds will be solely used by and for the benefit of coconut farmers as it is a money extracted from the fruits of their labor.
Abolition of irrigation and service fees as small farmers cannot afford to pay fees imposed by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on its national irrigation system.
Agrarian Justice on Wheels program concentrates on bringing justice through the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) at the grassroots level for speedy resolution of disputes related to tenurial arrangements and help case decongestion. This is similar to Justice on Wheels by the Supreme Court.
These sector outcomes and legislative agenda are anchored to the DAR's policy thrusts and directions relating to the protection of farmers and ensuring their security of tenure; promotion of farmer's rights and welfare; contribution to rural development; and help in ensuring food security.
Towards the end of the ARB Summit, the agrarian chief said that “the DAR will use its quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers to defend and assert the rights of farmers.”
“May natatanging pwesto ang DAR sa pag-depensa sa karapatan ng magsasaka, pero ang pinagsamang lakas ng mag-uuma, manggagawang bukid, at magsasaka ang siyang tunay na lakas para madepensahan ang karapatan ng magbubukid. Ang pangunahing maaasahan ng mga magsasaka sa pag-depensa ng kanyang lupa ay walang sinuman kundi ang kanyang sarili at pinagsama-samang lakas ng magsasaka at maasahan niyo dito ang tulong ng DAR,” Mariano added.
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