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 of illegal and unlawful conversion of agricultural lands.
On this note, Pangulayan directed the legal officers of the department to proceed with the process of prosecution on cases involving illegal conversion of agricultural lands.
This came about during the “2017 Conference for the Third Level Officials” of the DAR where he presented the 2017 Agrarian Legal Service Operational directives.
“Between the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the DAR, it is the latter that executes quasi-judicial power. The DAR builds up agrarian-related cases but ironically, it has no power to prosecute those found guilty of committing illegal and unlawful conversion of agricultural lands,” Pangulayan said.
To recognize the important role of the judiciary in the proper implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Pangulayan said the DAR would conduct a focus-group discussion with selected fiscals at the field levels.
“Later on, we will convene a national conference for all these fiscals to outline and discuss the delineation of functions between the DAR and DOJ in the process of land survey, issuance of clearance and cancellation of land titles specifically referring to the reclassification and conversion of agricultural lands to other uses such as residential, commercial and industrial use,” explained Pangulayan.
“The DAR has exclusive authority to approve and disapprove the conversion of agricultural lands. That’s why we must be very vigilant in preventing the premature conversion of agricultural lands. This may include the DAR being pro-active in the reclassification of lands, which at present is being done by the local government units (LGUs),” Pangulayan said.
He said cases involving illegal and unlawful conversion lands are being built up at the DAR but the department has no jurisdiction to prosecute those found guilty of illegal conversions. (DAR)