The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is eyeing to distribute 400,000 hectares of land to 379,236 agrarian reform beneficiaries by 2019 or less than three years from now.Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano announced the target during the recent presentation of DAR’s P10-billion proposed budget for 2017 before the House appropriations panel.
If DAR met the self-imposed deadline, Mariano said, there would only be 72,450 hectares left for distribution in the remaining three years of the Duterte administration.
There are 148,636 hectares more to be handed over to the agrarian reform beneficiaries on top of the 472,450 hectares that should be distributed by 2022, according to him.
The DAR chief was referring to the 148,636 hectares of problematic landholdings or privately owned agricultural lands that are yet to be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Law.
Mariano said the total area to be distributed within six years is over 621,000 hectares.
“We want to take this opportunity for Congress to also help the department in passing a new agrarian reform law that will expand the mandate of the DAR and facilitate the coverage of more agricultural lands not yet covered by our agrarian reform program. We recommend that the proposed legislation consider coverage of lands previously exempted or excluded from agrarian reform coverage at the least cost, if not free, to farmers,” he told the House Committee on Appropriations.
The CARP law covers alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture; lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits as determined by Congress; lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture; and private lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can be raised there.
The CARP Law bans reclassifying forest or mineral lands as agricultural lands unless Congress determines it by law.
From 1987 to 2016, DAR records would show that of the 4.8 million hectares covered under the CARP Law, 4.7 million hectares had Emancipation Patents and Certificate of Land Ownership Award (EP/CLOA) and were distributed to 2.8 million agrarian reform beneficiaries nationwide.
Of the 4.7 million hectares, 2.6 million or 55 percent are Private Agricultural Lands (PAL) and the remaining 2.1 million hectares are non-PAL.
In addition, 1.8 million hectares of the 4.7 million hectares that have been awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries are compensable by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
The remaining 2.9 million hectares are non-LBP compensable.LLANESCA T. PANTI