Marcos orders DAR to resolve vintage agrarian reform cases; agency says more lawyers needed

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2023 05:55 PM

Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB
Former lawmaker Conrado Estrella III attends the Commission on Appointments' Committee on Agrarian Reform's deliberation of his ad interim appointment as the new secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB

MANILA — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Tuesday said President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has ordered them to fast-track the resolution of pending vintage agrarian reform cases, but noted the lack of lawyers who could manage this. 

Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said around 240 cases may be considered vintage in his agency, or those cases pending between 3 and 20 years already since he took office last year. 

"Iyan ang marching order ng ating Pangulo – 'Ayusin na ninyo iyan at kung maaari ay wala nang vintage cases because, iyon nga, justice delayed is justice denied.' Iyan ang sabi ng ating Pangulo," Estrella told Palace reporters. 

At present, he said they have 2,400 cases still under the Agrarian Law Implementation division. 

Half of these cases may be resolved soon, he said. 

But the DAR chief said they still lack the number of lawyers who could work on these cases. 

"Kaya hindi kami makaarangkada ay kulang kami sa mga abogado and we can only hire lawyers initially na ang suweldo is only P50,000 and it will be difficult for us to hire credible and capable lawyers with only P50,000 a month," he said. 

"What we did in the Agrarian Reform is that iyong mga positions that are unfilled ‘no, we embarked on a crash—we abolished these positions and we went into a—we merged some of these positions and then we created other positions with higher salaries," he added. 

A total of 64 lawyers were still needed in the agency, 30 of which would be stationed in the Central Office to focus on resolving these pending cases, he said. 

These vacant positions in the legal department, he said, have salaries of at least P84,000. 

DAR still has around 500,000 hectares of land to distribute, and they aim to finish this backlog before the term of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. ends. 

"Gusto rin namin na mai-distribute lahat, ma-parcelize na namin iyong mga collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) kasi nagkakaroon ng tensiyon sa ibang lugar dahil nagtuturuan kung ano iyong kanila, nag-aagawan," he said.