Gov't to prohibit conversion of agricultural lands for 2 years
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano said the government is set to impose an order that will prohibit the conversion of agricultural lands for two years.
"The PARC (Presidential Agrarian Reform Council) has adopted the two-year moratorium on the conversion of agricultural lands. We are now drafting an executive order for President (Rodrigo Duterte) to review and sign," Mariano told reporters during a briefing at Malacañang on Tuesday, September 13.
He said that the order will cover the following:
- all awarded lands under Republic Act 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program), Presidential Decree 27, and other agrarian reform laws
- agricultural lands with notices of coverage issued by DAR
- irrigated and irrigable lands
- prime agricultural lands
- privately-owned lands with farmer tenants
- agricultural lands being cultivated by farmers, individually or collectively
Mariano said this will immediately protect more than 4.7 million hectares of agricultural land that have already been awarded to farmer-beneficiaries.
The moratorium was among the resolutions taken up during the PARC's meeting on Monday. Led by Duterte, the meeting was the first time the PARC was convened in 10 years.
The PARC is the highest policy-making body for agrarian reform in the country.
Mariano said Duterte expressed his support for the distribution of lands to farmer beneficiaries.
"The President fully supports [the] agrarian reform program, wants land distributed directly to land beneficiaries. [He wants] PARC to be more responsive to the issues by imposing timelines," the DAR chief added.
More than 621,080 hectares of land still have to be distributed to farmers.
During DAR's budget hearing at the House of Representatives last Tuesday, September 6, Mariano said his agency aims to distribute a total of 400,000 hectares of land to 379,236 beneficiaries by 2019.
He also urged lawmakers to pass a new agrarian reform law since CARP expired in 2014. (READ: DAR chief pushes bill on free land distribution to CARP beneficiaries) – Rappler.com
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