DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Jan) – Department of Agrarian Reform-11 Regional Director Joseph H. Orilla said on Monday that a total of 10,000 hectares of privately owned agricultural lands would be distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the Davao Region.
Orilla said in an interview that the distribution for at least 5,000 hectares is “doable” within the next three to five years, but he could not determine when for the remaining half as these properties are steeped in legal disputes between landowners and ARBs.
He assured the ARBs that lawyers of DAR-11 are already studying several cases of land disputes, so that they can facilitate the turnover of the disputed properties from landlords to the beneficiaries.
Orilla added they are working on the documents for the release of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to individual farmer beneficiaries of the 5,000 hectares of land “doable” for distribution, including the verification of “erroneous” documents and identities of the beneficiaries.
He added one of the challenges they are facing in the verification is the identification of the ARBs because they found it difficult to determine the members of the cooperatives that are eligible beneficiaries under the Republic Act 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of 1988.
The law intends to redistribute “public and private agricultural lands to farmers and farmworkers who are landless, irrespective of tenurial arrangement. CARP’s vision is to have an equitable land ownership with empowered agrarian reform beneficiaries who can effectively manage their economic and social development to have a better quality of life.”
Orilla said their pool of lawyers is studying the remaining of the 10,000 hectares as they find it “problematic” due to the legal impediments they encounter with owners of the disputed lands. He added some of the cases have already been brought to the courts.
Each beneficiary can own up to three hectares, Orilla said.
Last year, he said DAR 11 distributed 1,400 hectares and they plan to distribute another 1,000 hectares this year.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Karlo Bello said they would no longer distribute collective land titles but individual land titles to ARBs to prevent issues in the ownership, as mandated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Bello, former councilor of Davao City, said they distributed 34,000 hectares in 2017 and they target to distribute between 46,000 and 48,000 this year nationwide.
He added they have 584,000 hectares up for distribution nationwide. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)