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DAR-7: Agrarian reform to go on


CEBU, Philippines - An official of the Department of Agrarian Reform-7 has assured farmer beneficiaries that the government’s agrarian reform program will continue even if the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reforms (CARPer) law has already expired.

DAR-7 director Stephen Leonidas said the agrarian reform program is a constitutional provision that will continue to exist unless the Constitution is amended.

Leonidas said that Section 30 of the Republic Act 9700 or the CARPer law states that cases or proceedings that are pending upon the expiration of the law shall be allowed to proceed.

“It is very clear, even after June 30, CARP will continue. Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes even told us that the program will be tackled at the Congress particularly the extension of the issuance of notice of coverage,” Leonidas told reporters.

Central Visayas logged a 91 percent accomplishment in terms of land distribution as of   December 2013.

Siquijor is the lone province that has finished distributing all the lands to its farmer beneficiaries while Bohol is 96 percent done, followed by Cebu with 93 percent, and Negros Oriental with 89 percent.

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“Our target is that Bohol will be LAD-free this year, Cebu next year. Siquijor is already LAD-free. Aside from completion of LAD, we are also focusing on support services for Cebu and Bohol,” Leonidas said.

LAD refers to Land Acquisition and Distribution, one of  the prime programs of  the DAR along with delivery of support services to beneficiaries, and agrarian justice to those with pending cases.

There are 50,458 farmers in Central Visayas who have availed of LAD and support services, the DAR regional chief said.

Leonidas said the region is fortunate to have lesser resistance from private land owners, adding that those who initially did not cooperate were later on convince to submit to the comprehensive agrarian reform program.

Among the challenges that DAR is facing in implementing CARP and even CARPer are resistance from land owners, lost or erroneous land titles which delays logistical and documentary requirements, and pending cases in court.

Leonidas added that rallies, like the one held the other day in front of one of their offices in Cebu, are normal and that they intend to conduct a dialogue with these groups to make them understand and hopefully address the concerns of these people.

“Most of the members of these groups are farmer beneficiaries. We understand that it is part of their right to air out their grievances and dissatisfaction. And we hope to fix them by making them understand,” the DAR official said.

Leonidas claimed that there were farmers group leaders who initially rallied against them but ended up the agrarian reform agency after they receive the land title under their names.— (FREEMAN)

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