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PNoy fully committed to agrarian reform

PIA Press Release
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MANILA, Oct. 25 (PIA)-- Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes disputed claims regarding President Aquino's alleged lack of clear signal that demonstrates the determination to complete and implement agrarian reform. " The clearest signal of the President's determination to complete agrarian reform is in the 2011 budget and the proposed 2012 budget. The 2011 budget fully funds the land acquisition and distribution target of the DAR; this is also true for 2012. The fund for landowners' compensation had also been fully replenished and will be enough for 2011 and 2012."

Secretary de los Reyes explained that the DAR has set indicative annual targets up to 2014 to substantially fulfill the mandate of RA 9700 (CARPER) of accomplishing the distribution of the remaining land acquisition and distribution balance of 1.093 million hectares. He, however, acknowledged that huge challenges face the government in completing the distribution of these 1.093 hectares. Almost all of these lands ( 94%) are private agricultural lands, one- third of which are landholdings 24 hectares and above. Around 84% are compensable by Land Bank. Around 25 % are considered problematic (because of landowner resistance, disputes among farmer-beneficiaries, illegal transfer by the landowner, technical problems with land boundaries, etc.)

De los Reyes further acknowledged that 2009 and 2010 accomplishments are low. This is due to the delayed issuance of the the Implementing Rules of RA 9700 (CARPER) and additional CARPER requirement that tend to add to the time involved in distributing private agricultural lands. He, however, assured the agrarian reform advocates that the department has taken steps to speed up the acquisition process and make it more efficient. The AO on the acquisition of private agricultural land had been amended. Provincial targets are now by specific landholdings and are subject to a performance contract. An AO to facilitate the acquisition of problematic landholdings had been promulgated. Field offices had been instructed to frontload preliminary land acquisition and distribution activities. " We expect a spike in the department's land distribution accomplishment in 2012 up to 2014 because all systems will be put in place during the third quarter 0f 2011," said Undersecretary for Field Operations Narciso Nieto. Nieto furhter stated that notices of coverage for all remaining CARPable lands will be issued on the first half of 2012.

De los Reyes agreed with Congresswoman Bag-ao that agrarian reform is a continuing mandate even beyond 2014. " The DAR is coordinating with the Office of the President and the DBCC to work out the post- 2014 scenario that will define how support services will be delivered to agrarian reform beneficiaries beyond 2014; how the adjudication of agrarian cases will proceed after 2014 and how the process of acquisition of lands that have been issued notices of coverage will be completed even beyond 2014.

As regards the welfare of DAR personnel, Secretary de los Reyes stated that a Transition Plan will be prepared in consultation with the DAR Employees Association. He further noted that the special provision in the 2012 budget appropriation assures sufficient personnel for the department to fulfill the mandate of RA 9700.

De los Reyes reiterated that the government is indeed serious in ensuring the substantial completion of agrarian reform within the timeframe mandated in RA 9700.

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