13 DAR-Cebu officials to face criminal, administrative charges for failing to distribute land titles to ARBs

QUEZON CITY—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is set to file criminal and administrative charges against 13 DAR-Cebu officials and personnel who failed to distribute a total of 2,007 certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

Agrarian Reform Secretary Brother John Castriciones said the decision came after a series of investigation was conducted by Task Force Undistributed Cebu CLOA, which was created by the Secretary to address the issue on the failure to distribute the land titles to Farmer-Beneficiaries.

Castriciones has directed his officials to conduct a ground validation on the landholdings and ARBs to know the real and actual status of the land and the ARBs in Cebu.

“We found out that these CLOAs has been in storage for several years, depriving the ARBs of their opportunity to own a piece of land as mandated by the law,” Brother John said.

Brother John said the DAR provincial office in Cebu has no right to withhold the distribution of titles the moment that it is released to the DAR by the Registry of Deeds, which means that it is all set and ready for distribution to ARBs anytime.

Castriciones said the CLOAs were discovered to have been stored inside the office of the Land Transfer and Implementation Division (LTID) in DAR provincial office in Cebu.

The stored CLOAs consisted of 387 emancipation patents (EPs) and 1,620 CLOAs totaling 2,007 land titles kept undistributed.

All in all, the team had itemized the said EPs/CLOAs ranging from the years 1987 up to the 2020s.

In addition to this, there are another 3,391 undistributed land titles, covering an area of 2,526 hectares, which the Land Bank of the Philippines had turned over to the DAR.

During the inventory, the DAR team also found another 306 collective CLOAs inside four boxes. Some LTID staff claimed that the collective CLOAs are still subject for verification and validation process by the municipal agrarian reform program officers (MARPOs).

As this developed, Castriciones ordered the immediate distribution of a total of 422 individual EPs/CLOAs to 422 ARBs comprising of 315.2704 hectares of land. He said that the 3,391 titles turned over by the LBP, should also be included in the distribution process.

Brother John also directed all the DAR regional directors to submit an inventory of undistributed EPs/CLOAs in their respective region for transparency.

Field Investigation:

On 21-23, April 2021, the Task Force together with officials from the Bureau of Land Tenure and Improvement (BLTI) of the DAR, met in Cebu City and conducted an initial validation to determine the physical and actual authenticity of the titles.

The DAR Field Operations Office and the Bureau of Land Tenure Improvement said the CLOAs were found to be “authentic in nature” based on the security features on the titles and the corresponding serial numbers “as reflected in the record book.”

“The initial validation also helped in knowing the year of registration and the municipalities from where it was documented and generated,” said Undersecretary Elmer Distor, who chairs the Task Force.

Distor said that out of the 2,007 CLOAS, there are 1,585 titles that are still subject for validation, due to reasons like retention cases, double titling, actual occupancy by farmers, overlapping of boundaries, conflict of ownership and other anomalies.

The second phase of the validation will include reports and recommendations from DAR municipal agrarian reform officers on the circumstance of the 2,007 stored CLOAs; survey of the landholdings; and strategic plans from the DAR provincial and municipal offices to hasten the process flow obtaining CLOAs.