MARAMAG, Bukidnon (MindaNews/04 December) – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of South Bukidnon believes it can meet its target to distribute the lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) before the year ends.
But Task Force Mapalad (TFM), a national federation of farmers, farm workers and individuals working for agrarian reform, doubts the agency can meet its target given the current pace of the implementation of the program.
Norberto Paquingan, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) of South Bukidnon, claimed that they can meet the 2,126-hectare target before December 31.
He said that 252 hectares have been awarded to the farmers as of December 2, and these were already registered with the Register of Deeds.
The figure represents roughly 12 percent of the total number of hectares for distribution.
“We are on track to award the remaining CARP-covered lands to the farmers at the end of the year,” he said, adding this will be done through compulsory acquisition.
But TFM-Bukidnon coordinator Joseph Coles said the target is unrealistic since there are only 19 workdays left this month.
He was hopeful however that more lands will be awarded [to the farmers in the province] before the year ends.
“But we are happy with this small victories like the reinstallation of the farmer-beneficiaries in Ocaya Ranch,” he said.
Two hundred thirty-seven farmer-beneficiaries were reinstalled on December 2 at Ocaya ranch, nine months after they were evicted due to alleged harassments perpetrated by farm guards.
Coles said the recent Supreme Court ruling ordering the distribution of the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita to its workers should bode well for agrarian reform.
“By next year, with the development in the Hacienda Luisita case, we are hoping that the land acquisition and distribution of the government would be efficient,” he said.
In its website, the DAR said that this year it aims to distribute 200,000 hectares, 68,000 hectares of which will be handed out through compulsory acquisition.
Meanwhile, Paquingan assured that support services such as credit access and post-harvest facilities will be given to the beneficiaries.
He added that the portion of the Ocaya ranch covered by CARP will form part of the expansion of the Agrarian Reform Community. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)