The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is preparing to distribute 101,377 hectares of agricultural land to landless farmers in the Bicol region with the aim of achieving a target of zero backlog in terms of land distribution balance from of this year.
The 101,377 hectares of agricultural land represents 77.11% of the 442,895 hectares of the region’s total “CARP perimeter”, leaving a balance of 101,377 hectares, the second largest nationally. At the top of the list are regions 6 and 12.
So far, the DAR has distributed a total of 341,518 hectares of agricultural land in the entire Bicol region over the past 49 years, which includes a land transfer program that dates back to 1972 and the land reform program (CARP) which was implemented from 1988.
Regional Director of DAR Bicol, Rodrigo O. Realubit, reported that approximately 150,083 Emancipation Patents (EPS) and Certificates of Land Ownership Assignment (CLOA) have been issued to 198,917 farmers in Bicolano. He credited the DAR’s persistent efforts to provide tenure security to landless farmers despite the challenges of implementing CARP.
By province, Camarines Sur comes first with 125,654 hectares allocated to 74,125 beneficiaries of the agrarian reform. It was followed by Masbate with 70,652 hectares and 34,146 farmer-beneficiaries; Albay with 56,381 hectares and 39,367 farmer-beneficiaries; Camarines Norte with 38,198 hectares and 17,844 farmer-beneficiaries; and Sorsogon with 33,421 and 21,265 beneficiary farmers.
Catanduanes has already completed all of its distributable farmland of 14,666 hectares with 10,919 farmer-beneficiaries benefiting from its land distribution program.
Realubit said that since the remaining area available for distribution is mostly private and more contentious, the coming years will continue to be incredibly difficult for the department, adding that more than 47,557 hectares and 17,238 hectares of the total balance are classified as “problematic”. and “untitled properties”, respectively, thus delaying their coverage by CARP.
Private land also includes land covered by the operation’s land transfer program, land holdings and land seized by public financial institutions.
He said “these areas are still under protest or litigation and lack documentation and can only be touched by the DAR upon resolution of the case and/or completion of supporting documentation.”
According to the DAR official, problematic land holdings can raise questions about ownership or legality of coverage.
Realubit said only 504 hectares of government-owned land remained intact. Most of it had been distributed over the past decades. They are located in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Sorsogon.
He said that in 49 years, a total of 351 land reform beneficiary organizations have been organized across the region to enable member farmers to continue to have access to a convergence of support services from various implementing agencies. land reform, donor communities, local government units, and non-governmental organizations. These support services include skills and livelihood training programs, access to credit, health, technology transfer, irrigation, multipurpose buildings, food processing centers with tools and implements, and agricultural machinery.
He said that the DAR, through CARP, has funded a large number of farm-to-market road and bridge construction projects from the Department of Public Works and Highways; Land Bank of the Philippines credit programs; the vocational training of the Department of Commerce and Industry; National Irrigation Administration irrigation projects; and agricultural production training and livestock distribution from the Department of Agriculture.