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DAR steps up land distribution program

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The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is stepping up its land distribution program in support of President Benigno S. Aquino III's "clear, intense and consistent" commitment to pursue land reform in the country.

DAR Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes bared this as he guested at the "Talking Points" radio program over Radyo ng Bayan (DZRB) of the Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) on Tuesday.

The twice-a-week "Talking Points" radio program is a joint project of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Broadcasting Network (NBN), and PBS.

Delos Reyes said the land reform program is achievable through the joint efforts of the DAR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Explaining the mandates of DAR, he said the agency's thrust is, first, "to distribute lands owned by the elite few in our society to farmers," and, second, with these lands, it is hoped that their life would prosper.

"In the second mandate, DAR is in partnership with the DA to help farmers achieve life prosperity," he added.

Delos Reyes clarified that DAR's control covers the private lands while publicly disposable and alienable lands are under the control of the DENR.

He said that the country has 30 million hectares of mountainous, hilly, rocky and arable lands, 10 million of which are arable. From this, 4.3 million hectares have already been distributed to farmer-beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and in the next three years one million more hectares will be handed out.

He clarified that only agricultural lands planted with rice and corn are objects for distribution.

The agrarian chief stressed that their land distribution for the next three years will be equivalent to 20 years of CARP's land distribution.

The agrarian reform program is established under Presidential Decree (PD) 27, amended by Republic Act No. 6657 signed by the late President Corazon C. Aquino and is now refurbished under R.A. 9700.
The DAR chief said they would distribute first those vast tracts of land with 50 hectares and above.

He explained that their big challenge in CARP is the land valuation or on how to determine the values of the land they are going to distribute.

He said they have first to determine the land ownership and its extent with the Registry of Deeds.

The aspect of beneficiaries is determined through the help of the local government units (LGUs) and the barangay councils.

In determining the proper distribution of lands, he said three factors have to be considered: production, market value and comparable sales.

Under the provision of R.A. 9700, the farmer-beneficiary will pay the landowner in 30 years while the government will pay in 10 years.

According to Delos Reyes, the priority programs of DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, who heads the convergence of DA, DENR and DAR, are food security and societal stability for the next five years.

He said that food security should be implemented not only at the expense of the farmers but through the efforts of all government agencies. (M. Antonio G. Ibarra -PNA/PIA9-BaSulTa)




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