The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Provincial Office of South Cotabato is currently conducting a census of farmers and farm workers to stabilize their rights as agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) on the land previously owned by the National Development Corporation (NDC) awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Tupi and Polomok in South Cotabato.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Felix C. Frias said the farmers and farm workers are beneficiaries of two collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) distributed in 1988 by then President Corazon C. Aquino.
Due to the increasing number of cases, issues and petitions regarding lands formerly owned by the NDC, DAR Secretary Virgilio R. delos Reyes, signed an Interlocutory Order giving authority to conduct a census to finally stabilize the farmers’ rights to lands distributed to them under CARP.
“The Census is being conducted at the Municipal Agrarian Reform Offices in Tupi and Polomolok by interviewing ARBs, farmers and farm workers who were employees of Dole Philippines Inc. when the CARP was enacted in 1988, during which the two CLOAs were distributed,” explained Frias.
In 1988, the NDC turned over to DAR a total of 8,937 hectares of land to be covered under CARP. Two collective CLOAs were then distributed to cover these lands and named 7,535 farm workers as beneficiaries included in the master list.
These beneficiaries formed an organization named the Dolefil Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative Inc. (DARBCI), to oversee and manage the lands covered by the CLOAs.
In that same year, DARBCI and Dole signed a Land Use Partnership Agreement (LUPA) in which stated that DARBCI turns over to Dole its right to manage its awarded lands in exchange for rental fees and a portion of the income Dole earns from farming its land.
Since then, issues have arisen which made way to cases and petitions filed by groups against the DARBCI.
“These issues include identification and validation of beneficiaries based on the processes and guidelines when the CLOAs were distributed, as well as identification of beneficiaries who are now deceased, naming their family as heirs,” Frias said.
Frias added that petitions by some members and indigenous peoples’ group to segregate the land that according to them is theirs is also another issue that needs resolving.
“The census aims to gather pertinent information and data that will help resolve said issues,” Frias said.
The census started last September 7, 2015 and will last until November 27 when the consolidated data will be delivered to the DAR Central Office to hasten resolution of cases, issues and petitions in the court as well as in the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB). (Kathleen D. Sespeñe)
Photo 1: Agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) registering during the census conducted by DAR.
Photo 2: An ARB poses for a photo for attachment in their documents.
Photo 3: A farmer being interviewed at the census conducted by DAR.