Secretary in the News

February 09, 2017 48

Unite vs oligarchs, farmers exhorted

AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano urged farmers of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to unite against the landlord oligarchy of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. Read More..
Feb 01, 2017 43

Mariano probes farmer’s shooting in Negros

AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano ordered on Tuesday an investigation and fast resolution of a land dispute in Negros Occidental, the bastion of vast tracts of haciendas. Read More..
Jan 17, 2017 91

DAR to run after those guilty of illegal and unlawful…

BANILAD, CEBU CITY, Jan. 12 — Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano approved and supported the proposal of Undersecretary for Legal Operations Office Luis Meinrado Pangulayan’s to file cases and prosecute those found guilty… Read More..
Jan 12, 2017 80

“Let us uphold farmers’ rights and welfare”—Sec. Ka Paeng

BANILAD, CEBU CITY, Jan. 11—Agrarian Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano stated this at the ongoing conference for its third level officials to craft the department’s strategic plans and directions for 2017 to 2022. Read More..

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Draft order on land conversion moratorium ready -- DAR

businessworldThe Deparment of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has drafted an executive order (EO) seeking a two-year moratorium on land use conversion covering agricultural areas.

The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the highest decision-making body on agrarian reform issues chaired by the President, has approved in a meeting on Monday the said move to halt for two years the processing and approval of applications for conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael V. Mariano said in a news conference at Malacañang on Tuesday his agency has drafted of an order pending President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature, adding that DAR will then “promulgate... rules and regulationspara po sa implementasyon ng nasabing kautusan(for the implmentation of the said order).”

Under the draft EO, the moratorium shall apply to all awarded lands under Republic Act No. 6657 as amended, Presidential Decree or PD No. 27 and other agrarian reform laws, as well as agricultural lands with Notices of Coverage issued by the DAR, irrigated and irrigable lands, prime agricultural lands, retention areas of the land owners which are tenanted, and agricultural lands with presence of agricultural activities or being cultivated by the farmers individually or collectively.

Mr. Mariano said agricultural lands are of utmost priority under this order, in line with state policy “to preserve prime agricultural lands to ensure food security.”

Administrative Order 363 or the “Prescribing Guidelines For The Protection Of Areas Non-Negotiable For Conversion And Monitoring Compliance With Section 20 Of The Local Government Code” mandates the State to “protect prime agricultural lands for food production activities,” among others.

The Philippines has an estimated total land area of 29.82 million hectares, of which 9.67 million hectares are classified as agricultural.

Some 4.7 million agricultural lands have been distributed or awarded to more than 2.7 million agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), according to Mr. Mariano.

The draft order also calls for the creation of a task force that will assess the status of land use conversion in the country and seek the necessary support of other implementing agencies.

In another development, Mr. Mariano said he has ordered the formation of a policy review and formulation committee that would reevaluate omnibus rules issued previously by the agency, citing in particular Administrative Order (AO) No. 04 which provides rules on Agri-business Venture Arrangements or contracts entered into by an ARB or group of ARBs and an investor.

Kasi po doon saAOna iyon, ang nagiging papel lang po ngDARdoon ay... optionalpa doon sa mga partido sa kontrata kung iimbitahan o ire-requestnila na magingobserverangDARsanegotiation.At iyon pongDAR,ang papel lang ay toissue notice to proceedsanegotiation (With regards to that AO, DAR’s role is optional for the contract parties, if they will invite or request DAR as observer in the negotiation. DAR’s only role [so far] is to issue a notice to proceed).” Mr. Mariano said.

Sought for comment, George T. Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry (PCCI), said the executive order, once issued, will benefit farmers, but added that more details on the move should be presented so business can weigh its pros and cons.

“After clearing this matter, the agri sector, the farmers should benefit,” Mr. Barcelon said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “On the business side, there’s been talk that if this issue on issuing land title[s] to the farmers is clearer in the rule of engagement, then companies can go into corporate farming. [For now], it’s not clear as far as the ownership of the land [is concerned].”

For his part, PCCI honorary Chairman Sergio R.Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said DAR should exempt applications that are currently undergoing the conversion process as such change weighs down confidence among certain investors.

He cautioned against making “rules midstream.”

“Sana (I wish) if they want a moratorium, if they are those in the process i-exempt nila ’yun (they should be exempted) because it’s unfair,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis said in a phone interview.

This was not the first time the DAR has endeavored such a moratorium. In April 2008, the regulator issued Memorandum No. 88, temporarily suspending the processing and approval of all land use conversion applications.

The Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Associations, Inc., a private non-stock, nonprofit corporation made up of some 3,500 infrastructure-related corporations, then questioned the memorandum before the Supreme Court, saying this has led to a slowdown of housing projects which negatively impact on employment.

In 2010, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition, ruling that Memorandum No. 88 “was made in order to ensure that there are enough agricultural lands in which rice cultivation and production may be carried into,” and was thus crafted “pursuant to the general welfare of the public.”