Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano vowed yesterday to expand agrarian reform to properties previously exempted or converted to other uses to skirt inclusion, and to correct erroneous notices of coverage on thousands of hectares that has delayed land distribution.
Mariano met with 684 farmers in Negros Occidental that has the largest agrarian reform backlog in the country, with a balance of 91,000 hectares still to be distributed.
The total backlog for the Negros Island Region is 101,000 has., with 10,000 has. in Negros Oriental, DAR NIR Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said.
Most of the 101,000 has. has already been issued notices of coverage, Mariano said.
Of the 91,000 has., the issuance of erroneous notices of coverage on 35,650 has., has delayed coverage and the DAR is acting on it, Mariano added.
Mariano said that, of the 35,650 has. with erroneous notices of coverage, 35,000 has. are in Negros Occidental and 650 has. in Negros Oriental.
The DAR is looking at the reissuance or amendments to the erroneous NOCs to address the problem and to prevent legal challenges from landowners, he added.
DAR is also in dialog with the Register of Deeds over complaints of “chop-chop” land titles, where large land areas with a single title are broken up into smaller portions with multiple titles as a means to skirt full CARP coverage.
There is a need for close coordination between the DAR and the Register of Deeds to prevent the issuance of “chop-chop” titles on land already covered by agrarian reform, he said.
The ROD should seek clearance from the DAR before issuing “chop-chop” titles, he said. Mariano said there are ongoing talks, but he does not want to comment on who should be held accountable for the “chop-chop” titles.
Leonidas said the “chop-chop” of land titles in Negros Occidental is rampant.
A DAR report cited the 140.9-hectare Hacienda Tinijaban in Barangay San Jose, EB Magalona in Negros Occidental as an example of an area with “chop-chop” land titles.
Meanwhile, the land still up for agrarian reform distribution nationwide is more than 621,000 has., Mariano said.
He said the 621,000 has. will increase because he has ordered an inventory of conversion orders issued by DAR. If the conversion orders are more than 5 years old and the applicant has not implemented the actual land conversion, that can be a basis of revocation or recall of the conversion order issued by DAR so the land can be covered for distribution, Mariano said.
Properties covered by orders of exemption are also being reviewed for possible land distribution, as well as properties of government financial institutions, state colleges and universities, government corporations among others, he added.
Agrarian reform beneficiaries will be installed on the land awarded to them, Mariano promised.
Also tackled at the meeting were ways to address the problems of snail-paced Land Acquisition and Distribution, dummy agrarian reform beneficiaries, Certificate of Land Ownership options of ARBs, among others.
We need to hasten the LAD process, he added.
Mariano also said they will recommend to the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council that it condones the P4.3 billion arrears and unpaid interest of ARBs.*CPG
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