DAR to relocate central offices to Davao

Pangandaman said the move is based on a directive by President Arroyo in her State of the Nation Address, wherein she revealed her plan of developing Mindanao as a super-region focused on agri-business.


Pangandaman said it could help the department focus on Mindanao, home of around 40 percent of the total land area the DAR intends to acquire and redistribute in 2007.


DAR announced around 1.5 million hectares of land it intends to acquire and redistribute, two years before its extension of 10 years would end in 2008. Pangandaman said he is optimistic the government would extend the program for at least seven years.


The 10-year Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was created by the enactment of RA 6657 in June 1988. When the law expired in 1998, and with the government not even halfway through the program, Congress passed RA 8532, which extended the program for another 10 years.


Pangandaman said the department is pushing for more development projects, including a convergence program with the Department of Agriculture, which aims to develop 10 million hectares of upland areas. They targetted to develop 2 million hectares in 2007.


The move, Pangandaman said, would be a big help for farmers and beneficiaries in Mindanao because it would mean DAR would have a hands on approach in the island.


He said DAR's regional office will be retained as the over-all set up of operations would be kept intact.


Pangandaman said all of DAR's national offices, including the office of the secretary, will transfer "as soon as possible". DAR's office in Elliptical Road in Quezon City will become a satellite office and will house the regional offices of Southern Tagalog.


He projected around 1,000 employees relocating to Davao but said they will first look at volunteers who would be willing to swap jobs and thus minimize relocation.


Pangandaman said they have a problem of looking for a big space for rent to accommodate their offices, but pointed out they are discounting any huge expenses in the transfer.


In the meantime, DAR will occupy a portion of the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) office, he said.


President Arroyo originally intended to transfer the Department of Agriculture to Mindanao, according to Presidential Adviser of New Government Centers Secretary Rodolfo del Rosario.


Del Rosario said, as quoted by the Philippine Information Agency, that instead of DA being relocated to Davao, which was originally planned, it will instead be the DAR.


Pangandaman said the DA would be transferred to Baguio City in Northern Luzon, which is another area pitched by the government to be an agriculture haven.


PIA reported that Mindanao, being the food basket of the country, was the original choice. Del Rosario said, however, that it does not really need the DA here due to its typhoon free condition.