Tuesday, January 20, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]
THE Department of Agrarian Reform on Monday said it distributed a total of 143,374 hectares of agricultural lands to 90,556 farmer-beneficiaries in 2008, breaking its 130,000-hectare target for the year.
Besides breaching the target for 2008, the DAR has also broken its 140,000-hectare barrier for the first time in a decade, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said during the 2008 year-end assessment and 2009 planning and direction setting conference at the Oxford Hotel in Clark Special Economic Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga.
However, Pangandaman said the latest accomplishment was overshadowed by the delay in the passage by Congress of a law extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for at least five more years.
He said there are some 1.08 million hectares of farmlands that are still up for distribution to at least a million farmer-beneficiaries.
In his report, Pangandaman said the three regions in the Visayas, where anti-CARP sentiments used to be very strong, were among the top five contributors, with the DAR-Eastern Visayas distributing 21,427 hectares, followed by Central Mindanao, 20,462; Bicol region, 15,546; Central Visayas, 10,022 and Western Visayas, 9,478.
He said the achievement only shows that many landowners have began to realize the real worth of the land reform program in rural development and they wanted to become a part of this noble undertaking.
“The key here is to convince the landowners and explain to them properly everything about CARP, its objectives and its role in rural development,” he said.
The DAR has twice breached the 130,000-hectare mark, first in 2005 with 131,069 hectares of farmlands distributed and the second in 2007 with 134,041 hectares. In 2006, the DAR distributed 125,177 hectares.
Before going on recess for the Christmas break, members of the House of Representatives adopted the complete Senate version of Joint Resolution 19, which extends the effective date of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program until June 2009.
However, the extension of CARP until June 2009 is without the compulsory acquisition of new lands for redistribution to landless farmers.--Ira Karen Apanay