Around 232,000 hectares of arable, state-owned lands will be distributed to farmer beneficiaries around the country after the issuance of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Executive Order 75 aimed at giving the landless lands to till, the country’s agrarian reform secretary has said.
In his report to President Duterte on Monday, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said among the lands intended for distribution are located in Boracay, Davao National Agricultural School, Cagayan State University, Pampanga State Agricultural University, and Yulo King Ranch in Busuanga, Palawan.
“Sa kasalukuyan ay sinusukat na ang mga lupain na ito at pipirmahan na ang Deed of Transfer ng mga government-owned lands, at sa darating na Oktubre ay puwede nang ipamigay ang nasabing mga lupain,” Castriciones said.
“Lahat ng government-owned lands na ipapamahagi ay ibibigay sa mga magsasaka nang walang bayad. Sa pagpapatupad ng EO 75 ng ating Pangulo, naipamahagi na ang higit sa 2,500 ektarya ng lupang pag-aari ng pamahalaan sa mahigit 2,000 magsasaka.”
Through the assistance of the Department of National Defense (DND), DAR has reached an agreement with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) this year for land distribution in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.
In Marawi City, 1,300 hectares of land will be distributed while 780 hectares will be awarded to beneficiaries in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur, 1,324 hectares in Piagapo, and 1,396 hectares in Marantao.
The DAR chief said land survey is ongoing and the government-owned lands could be handed over to the farmers by October.
To widen the government program, the President issued Administrative Order No. 3, Series of 2020, aimed at enticing young people to venture in agriculture.
Under the President’s administrative order, not only agriculture graduates can get lands but also former rebels returning to the fold of the law.
As a result, Castriciones reported that more than 2,000 former rebels and their sympathizers received lands in Nueva Vizcaya, Leyte, Bohol, Masbate, Arakan Valley, Negros, and other areas.
In Mindanao, 146 decommissioned combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were given lands in the Bangsamoro Region after DAR worked with BARMM’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform.
To uplift the living condition of farmer-beneficiaries, the President issued a directive mandating DAR to come up with programs creating sustainable and resilient agrarian reform community.
There are 2.486 million agrarian reform beneficiaries from 1972 to 2020. Castriciones said 1.3 million or 53 percent of the ARBs are in 2,234 agrarian reform communities.
In strengthening these communities, the government has extended training and loan to 1,626,097 ARBs. Some 897,882 agrarian reform beneficiaries availed government loans, with the administration releasing a total of P18.7 billion for the initiative.
“Simula sa termino ni Pangulong Duterte, lumago ang bilang ng agrarian reform communities sa 2,234 at nakabuo ng 178 na agrarian reform community clusters. Mayroon na rin po tayong nagawang 1,869 ARBOs o kooperatiba na may 377,250 members upang maging conduit sa mga tulong na maibibigay sa mga magsasaka,” the DAR head said. “Sa kabuuan, mayroon na tayong 6,369 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations.”
Under the government’s Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty, 240 cooperatives were given an opportunity to sell their produce to different government agencies and private organizations.
At the same time, the Duterte government launched ARBOLD Project, with DAR allocating P300 million to support farmers and organizations to weather the effects of the pandemic.
“Ang programang ito ay nakatulong sa 1,632 ARBOs sa marketing programs ng kanilang mga ani at produkto. Bukod rito, ang Kagawaran ay nakapagkaloob ng 256 farm equipment, implements sa 219 municipalities and cities,” Castriciones said.
DAR also worked with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and LGUs to provide ARBs with decent shelter through the housing program Balay Para Sa Magsasaka.
Currently, there are 100 housing units being constructed in Umingan, Pangasinan, which will be turned over to the beneficiaries before the end of October this year. A total of 184 shelters are ready for occupancy by December. PND