MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) met its target of completing land distribution in Hacienda Luisita before the year 2013 ended.
The DAR had successfully distributed Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAS) to farmer-beneficiaries in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Tarlac City – the last of 10 barangays in the sugar estate. Some 663 of 745 farmworker-beneficiaries have received certified true copies of their CLOAs.
“The distribution was done on schedule despite the damage caused by Typhoon Santi to the area, including many of the barangay covered courts where the CLOA distribution activities were previously held,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said.
Data from DAR showed that 5,718 CLOAs have been distributed to farmworker-beneficiaries out of a total of 6,189.
The DAR said the CLOAs are being registered with the Registry of Deeds.
They are also awaiting the signing of farmworker-beneficiaries of the Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking (APFU).
The DAR continues to seek out the farmworker-beneficiaries who have yet to claim their Lot Allocation Certificates (LACs) or file their APFUs.
A good number of farmworker-beneficiaries are either working abroad or living outside of Tarlac.
They were unable to claim their LACs or sign and file their APFUs, which will certify the farmworker-beneficiaries’ commitment to pay monthly amortization to the lands awarded to them.
“These figures are going up as farmworker-beneficiaries who were not able to receive their CLOAs during the scheduled distribution activities in the barangays have actually been going to the DAR provincial office to get their certified true copies,” De los Reyes said.
He said following the distribution of certified true copies of the CLOAs, the DAR is preparing to install the farmworker-beneficiaries in their lots.
“What comes next is the setting of the boundaries for the farm lot of each beneficiary by putting monuments or boundary stones (muhon) as soon as the land has been cleared of standing crop,” he said.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said the setting up of boundaries has started in a number of barangays in the sugar estate since early November.
“We hope to finish this by first quarter of 2014,” he said.
This is ongoing in barangays Pando, Motrico, Parang and Mapalacsiao.
Parungao said under the law, agrarian reform beneficiaries have to pay amortizations for their CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program)-awarded land for a period of 30 years.
“In the meantime, the owner’s duplicate copy of the CLOAs will be held by the Land Bank of the Philippines,” he said.
Parungao said the certified true copies of their CLOAs constitute proof of ownership of their CARP-awarded farmlands, he added.
The awarded land cannot be converted to uses other than agricultural within five years and cannot be sold within 10 years from the time of awarding.
Last Sept. 30, the DAR began the distribution of CLOAs to 600 farmworker-beneficiaries in Barangay Pando, Concepcion, Tarlac. In the subsequent weeks, certified true copies of CLOAs were distributed to farmworker-beneficiaries in Barangay Motrico in La Paz town; Lourdes, Bantog, Cutcut, Asturias, Balete in Tarlac City; and barangays Parang, Pando, and Mabilog in the town of Concepcion.
A total of 6,212 farmworkers have been identified as qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita.
Each beneficiary is allotted 6,600 square meters of farm lot, more or less, out of the 4,099 hectares earmarked for distribution.
Immediately after the identification of farmer-beneficiaries, a DAR-accredited private survey conducted the subdivision survey on a total of 5,149 hectares in Hacienda Luisita.
Of the area surveyed, 500 hectares of the converted area and 80.51 hectares covered by SCTEX were exempted from distribution based on the Supreme Court’s final decision in the Hacienda Luisita case.
An additional 468.49 hectares were used as residential areas, canals, roads, firebreaks, a cemetery, buffer zones, lagoons, fishponds, eroded areas, and legal easements were excluded from distribution to qualified beneficiaries.
Agrarian reform officials said these will still be covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program for common use of qualified beneficiaries
Last July, DAR completed the screening and identification of more than 6,000 beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita, making the cut in the final master list of qualified farmworker-beneficiaries.
In a final resolution on April 22, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the 2006 decision of the DAR to distribute the vast landholding to farm workers who agreed with the Tarlac Development Corp. to own shares of stock in Hacienda Luisita Inc. instead of lands under a stock distribution agreement.
Based on the Supreme Court decision, Hacienda Luisita should be distributed to those farmworkers who are qualified to be beneficiaries under the CARP in 1989 – the time of approval of the Stock Distribution Plan, which the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council eventually revoked.
Despite completion of land distribution, Parungao said a lot still has to be done following the distribution of CLOAs to farmworker-beneficiaries.
“We would also have to make sure they are able to avail of support services that will help them cultivate their farm lots properly.”
The DAR has reported possibly completing distributing the bulk of CARP-covered lands, especially those above 10 hectares, by June 2014 – the legislated deadline of the land acquisition and distribution program of CARP.
However, De los Reyes said some landholdings could be in the pipeline for acquisition but distribution will not be completed by June 30, 2014.
These are the landholdings with cases, and some of the small landholdings whose acquisition cannot proceed yet because of phasing provided under Republic Act 9700 or CARP Extension with Reforms, De los Reyes said.