SIXTY-SEVEN agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Hinigaran are now cultivating their own lands after they were installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Negros Occidental-South.

In Barangay Pilar, 44 ARBs were installed by the DAR on the 14-hectare landholding formerly owned by Ramon Silverio.

Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Emma Annabelle Delmoro, who led the installation rites on December 9, told the farmer-beneficiaries to diligently perform their obligations under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

"Be a good taxpayer by religiously paying your land taxes and as well as your land amortization to the Land Bank of the Philippines," she urged the ARBs.

Also present during the installation were the personnel of Hinigaran Municipal Police Station, who helped ensure peace and order during the activity.

In Barangay Palayog, 23 farmer-beneficiaries were also installed on the 17.0271-hectare agricultural land previously owned by Juan Ysassi on the following day.

Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Concepcion Cabaluna lauded the farmers and encouraged them to be productive and empowered Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) beneficiaries.

"I am encouraging you to form your own cooperative so that you can avail bundles of support services from the government," Cabaluna told the ARBs.

He also warned the new landowners not to engage in "ariendo system," which is strictly prohibited under the law.

Meanwhile, DAR-Negros Occidental distributed Christmas gifts to some 120 senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Barangay Nagasi in La Carlota City on December 11.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer I Enrique Paderes, Mayor Rex Jalandoon, Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officers and Nagasi barangay officials led the distribution of Noche Buena packages to the recipients.

Paderes said the gift-giving, dubbed as "Daigon sang Gugma," is an annual activity initiated by the agency through its Gender And Development (GAD) Program.

"It has been the yearly tradition of our personnel to personally share their own blessings, out of their own pockets, with our ARBs and with the needy and marginalized sector," he said.

Paderes added that the conduct of the activity is not only to comply with the mandates under the laws governing the GAD activities, but also to share the Christmas cheer to Negrenses who are in need.

"We wanted to uplift the spirit of our grandparents and PWDs, considering that they are the most vulnerable sectors during this coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak," the official said.

He said DAR-Negros Occidental II wanted to be the Santa Claus of these sectors and make them feel the essence of Christmas.

Jalandoon expressed gratitude to the agency for selecting the city to become the recipient of the program.

The mayor vowed to help residents of Barangay Nagasi speed up the coverage of the portion of the University of the Philippines-College of Agriculture and Food Science until the land will be awarded to qualified beneficiaries of the Carp.

Aside from senior citizens and PWDs, the personnel of DAR-Negros Occidental II also made a surprise visit to some of the houses at the barangay proper, where they sang Christmas carols and given gifts to some recipient-families.

For Nagasi Punong Barangay Marive Montoya, the agency has painted smiles and laughter to residents even just for a day.

"Christmas is the season of sharing and loving, and DAR-Negros Occidental II has embodied the spirit by sharing their blessings to our residents," Montoya said, adding that "it feels good to share, but it's even better when you see the smiles on the people's faces as they receive the little gifts."

To ensure the safety of the participants, DAR-Negros Occidental II ensured that the personnel adhered to health protocols such as wearing face masks, social distancing and proper sanitation.