997 Zambo farmers thank Duterte for release of land titles, provision of infra projects

DAPITAN CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – “This is a dream come true! The farm is finally mine! I am thankful for President Duterte for making this happen,” said Saturnina Oquiz who was teary-eyed after receiving her certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) from Department of agrarian reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones.

Oquiz was one of the 997 exultant agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who received their CLOAs in a ceremony held at the Dapitan City Cultural and Sports Center, Dapitan City on Friday, March 9.

The distributed lands covered some 1,595 hectares located in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Sur.

Oquiz is a wood tree farmer whose lifelong dream is to own the land she and her husband has been tilling for decades.

"With this land and the other projects turned over today, I am confident that my family’s future is secured. Am looking forward to earning more this coming years,” she said. 

Together with his top officials, Castriciones led the distribution of CLOAs and turned over various rural infrastructure and livelihood projects worth P404 million.

“The CLOAs are just the first step towards more support from the government. We will follow President Duterte’s national goal of improving the economic lives of our farmers by pouring various support services to farm communities,” said Castriciones.

“My marching order from our President is to help our poor farmers and to fight for their rights,” added Castriciones.

Another farmer, 40-year old Romulo Sambio of Zamboanga del Norte jumped for joy upon receiving his CLOA.

“No more worrying about paying rent for the use of the land. Most of all, no more fear of getting ejected as tenants. Pasalamat talaga kami kay Presidente Duterte,” said Sambio.

He added that as a farmworker, he was restricted from planting anything else without an order from the landowner. He follows whatever the landowner tells him to plant.

“Now I can plant whatever I want on my own farm. I will earn extra income for my family from planting corn and cassava while earning from coconuts,” explains Sambio.

During the CLOA distribution, Secretary Castriciones also turned-over infrastructure projects for the ARBs worth P404 million.

“These projects will benefit more than 10,000 ARBs. But not only our farmers, these [projects] would also directly benefit residents, around 23,000 households in Zamboanga peninsula,” said Castriciones.

In a short ceremony, the DAR chief also turned over 13 farm-to-market roads, two communal irrigation systems, and one 28.8 linear meter bridge.

“These infrastructure projects would greatly help our farmers, especially the roads and bridge which would ease farmers’ travel from farm to the market centers. The two irrigation systems would boost their farm yield,” he said.

Castriciones also handed over farm tools and various livelihood projects which will be distributed to agrarian cooperatives in Zamboanga Peninsula.

DAR Regional Director Julita Ragandang said that under the DAR Partnership Development Projects, the department will construct processing centers for handicrafts like abaca mat-weaving centers and community-managed potable water supply, sanitation and hygiene (CPWASH).

“These processing centers is where the farmers who are mostly women, conduct their livelihood projects of mat-weaving and make handicrafts out of abaca to sell for additional family income,” Ragandang said.

“The CPWASH will be constructed to provide potable water to remote farming communities,” she added.

Other top DAR officials present during the CLOA distribution and turn-over of projects include DAR Undersecretaries Luis Pangulayan of legal affairs office, Karlo Bello of field operations office, Rosalina Bistoyong of Support Services, David Erro of policy & planning office, Bernie Cruz of Special Concerns Office and Public Assistance & Media Relations Service Director Leomides R. Villareal.

Land Registration Authority (LRA) Administrator Renato Bermejo was also present during the distribution ceremony.

The local officials present during the event include Dapitan City Mayor Rosalina Jalosjos and representatives from the departments of interior & local government (DILG), agriculture (DA), irrigation (NIA) and environment and natural resources (DENR).

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