Close to 2,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Negros Occidental received their Certificates of Land Ownership awards yesterday from the Department of Agrarian Reform.
In time for the birthday of President Rodrigo Duterte today, DAR distributed a total of 1,940 CLOAs to ARBs covering 1,823.55 hectares, the biggest land distribution, so far this year, at the Bacolod Pavillon Hotel in Bacolod City yesterday.
The ARBs came from 11 cities and 12 towns of Neg. Occ. and their newly-acquired lands came from 108 landholdings.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Karlo Bello thanked the ARBs for their patience in waiting for their lands to be distributed, and he urged them to cultivate them.
During an interview yesterday, Bello, who led the distribution of CLOAs, said that these farmers should not sell their acquired lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as it is prohibited by the law.
He said that in Negros Occidental, about 103,000 has. of land are still to be covered and it might take a long time to distribute it as almost all the landholdings in the province are owned by private individuals and entities.
The balance in the province is the biggest in the country and Bello added that, in the Philippines, almost half a million hectares of agricultural land are still to be covered under the CARP program.
Regional director Stephen Leonidas said as to the number of CLOAs distributed, 59 percent is in north Negros, and 41 percent in south Negros.
He added that only 65 percent of the distributed lands are planted with sugarcane, while 15 percent are areas with rice crops, 10 percent with corn, and seven percent with root crops.
Leonidas said 99 percent of the lands needed to be covered are owned by private landholdings. Despite this figure, Bello lauded the local DAR personnel for still achieving their annual targets.
Most of the ARBs waited for years to get their CLOAs, and Leonidas, in his speech, also said that he is grateful for their patience as land coverage goes through a lot of processes.
He said there is an acquisition process that DAR is following, especially when it involves private lands. “Some of the DAR personnel are already facing complaints from them but we continue to distribute land titles amid these challenges,” he added.
Patricia Libo-on, an ARB in Hacienda San Jose-Cena in Victorias City, said they have been waiting for the CLOAs for almost 12 years since they applied for them and it is a blessing for their group of 22 people to benefit from a 192-hectare land.
Another ARB, Maria Juvy Magbanua from Sitio Sibato, Brgy. Guimbala-on in Silay City, said they waited for their land titles to be given for almost 20 years. She said she will plant her newly-acquired land with corn, rice, and other root crops with her kids.
NO TO ‘ARRIENDO’
Leonidas also said that this year, they target to distribute 12,000 has. of land to ARBs in Neg. Occ.
Leonidas said this is only the start of achieving their dreams and DAR will be monitoring them to see if they will make use of these lands to make them productive.
He added that if someone is caught engaging in arriendo, they will get back the land and give it to other deserving organizations.
The arriendo system is an informal leasing arrangement that is not authorized by DAR. Ariendadors pay cheap rentals to cultivate the land covered under CARP.*MLG
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