Agrarian department focuses on Negros lands

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Friday, July 20, 2012

“ABOUT 10% of my work is in Negros so that means I have to spend at least 10% of my time here,” said Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes during a meeting with a small group of land owners at Sugarland Hotel, Bacolod City, Thursday.

Twenty-four years after the launching by the late President Corazon Aquino of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp), DAR still has to distribute approximately one million hectares of landholdings before the extension of the program ends by 2014.

More than 100,000 these Carp-covered lands are reportedly in Negros Island.


De los Reyes said DAR is speeding up the land transfer process through the issuance of the Notice of Coverage to land owners.

Upon the receipt by land owners of the notice, DAR will then have the Land Registration Authority annotating the fact of Carp coverage on the titles of the covered lands, as embodied on the DAR-LRA Joint Memorandum Circular No. 17 signed last December 2011.

Land owners in the province, including Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., slammed the DAR-LRA memo as confiscatory and which deprives them of due process.

Last Wednesday, sugar industry leaders met with Senator Serge Osmeña in Manila to bring to his attention what they perceived as the high-handed, fast-tracked implementation of Carp, which they said is unfair to land owners.

BACOLOD. Sugar industry leaders met with Sen. Serge Osmeña (2nd from L) last Wednesday about what they perceive as DAR’s lack of due process in fast-tracking Carp implementation, particularly the issuance of Notice of Coverage to land owners. With the senator are (L-R) NFSP president Enrique Rojas, PSMA’s Francisco Varua, Unifed president Manolet Lamata and retired judge Francisco Rodriguez. (Contributed photo

Among those who met with Osmeña were National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique Rojas, Unifed president Manolet Lamata and Philippine Sugar Millers Association representative Francisco Varua.

“The DAR–LRA Joint Memorandum has caused confusion in the field and has unrealistically raised the expectations of the potential beneficiaries,” the group said in a press statement sent to Sun.Star Bacolod.

They clarified that the sugar industry is not against Carp, as long the due process is observed and implemented according to the guidelines of Republic Act No. 9700.

De los Reyes said land owners will be given due process. He assured them that the notice is just a simple notice, which land owners can contest within 30 days upon receipt thereof.

If they can present valid grounds for the exemption of the subject land from Carp coverage, DAR will heed the land owners’ points.

Moreover, de los Reyes said that DAR will assign a special agrarian reform body in Negros to handle these cases arising from contests on Carp coverage to speed up the resolution of the cases.

He also assured land owners that they will be consulted in determining the rightful beneficiaries of their lands subjected to Carp.

Land owners can give DAR an attestation of their regular farm workers or they can authorize DAR to secure copies of the land owners’ Social Security Systems payments for his workers so that DAR can use the list as basis for the qualified beneficiaries.

VOS Express Lane

DAR is presently fine-tuning the details of the administrative aspects for the establishment of an express lane for land owners who wish to avail themselves of the voluntary offer to sell (VOS).

To debunk claims that DAR is dragging its feet on the VOS, de los Reyes said DAR has already deposited P16 billion at Land Bank of the Philippines for VOS payments.

He said the funds cannot be released because some of the original land owners already died and the heirs have trouble securing the extra-judicial settlement of the property.

“We will make it easier for land owners who wish to avail (themselves) of VOS. We can help them prepare the sketch and reconstitute the title of the land. We will do all that we can, except those which are of very personal function such as executing the extra-judicial settlement, so that the land owners can avoid the hassle of processing their applications,” de los Reyes said.

DAR might launch the VOS Express Lane by August, he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 20, 2012.

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