ANGELES CITY, Pampanga—In its effort to help more farmers get agrarian justice, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) yesterday, June 21, signed an agreement with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
The initiative, dubbed as “Abogado para sa mga Magsasaka ng Central Luzon,” is a program of the DAR that aims to provide free legal consultation, and counseling to indigent agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).
DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz said the department, in its mandate to distribute lands to the landless farmers, is also required to look after their welfare.
“Legal problems are stressful and could affect our ARBs’ productivity, the best thing we could do is help, be with them and support them in facing their challenges. The farmers, especially those deprived of the means to help themselves will greatly benefit from this program,” Cruz said.
DAR Regional Director James Arsenio Ponce said that Central Luzon has an overwhelming number of agrarian legal cases for farmers.
“Resolving cases, mediation and legal representation are among the legal services we give our ARBs for free. This agreement with the IBP will intensify our drive to provide legal help to ARBs of Central Luzon,” Ponce said.
Under the agreement, the ARBs will be provided early representation in cases involving agrarian disputes as well as civil and criminal proceedings.
“The great thing about this agreement with the IBP is, the provision of legal service is not limited to agrarian cases only, we will also help the farmers if they are confronted with civil and criminal charges,” Ponce said.
Atty. Peter Paul Maglalang, the governor for IBP-Central Luzon and co-signee of the agreement said the legal help that will be provided to ARBs also extends to their spouses and children.
“With this program, we want to help not only the ARB but also their immediate family. We want to provide hope and let the farmers know that the DAR and we in the IBP are with them in their fight for justice,” Maglalang said.