Western Visayas

Land distribution gap in Negros sparks doubts over CARP deadline

Erwin Delilan

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Land distribution gap in Negros sparks doubts over CARP deadline

WAVE. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. waves to a crowd in Negros Occidental following the distribution of land titles in Bago City on Monday, April 8, 2024.

Negros Occidental PIO

With a deficit of nearly 200,000 hectares in Negros alone, a farmers' group says the promise to complete the land distribution before 2028 may be unrealistic

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) still faces a huge gap in terms of land distribution in Negros Occidental, even with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the distribution of 4,724 land titles to 2,797 Negros farmers at the Ramon Y. Torres Coliseum in Bago City this week.

Marcos was in Bago, 35.6 kilometers south of the provincial capital, Bacolod, on Monday, April 8, 2024, to distribute certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) and e-titles to Negros farmers.

The titles cover a land area of 2,550.3952 hectares, which was previously under collective CLOAs but has recently been segregated into individual titles. The recipients include 1,893 farmers – 951 from the northern part and 942 from the southern part of Negros Occidental.

Marcos, during his visit, said the land distributions under CARP nationwide must be completed before his term ends in 2028.

He directed Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III to coordinate with other government agencies to identify the rightful ARBs entitled to avail of land under CARP.

Shiela Enciso, regional director of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Western Visayas, told Rappler on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, that they still have to process and distribute e-titles covering more than 100,000 hectares, with around 15,000 hectares designated for identified CLOA beneficiaries, and another 15,000 hectares covering new parcels of land.

The e-titles are a result of Republic Act 11953, which condoned all pawned CLOAs to various government lending institutions. After the government’s buy-out of loans, the collective CLOAs were converted into individual titles, allowing each agrarian reform beneficiary (ARB) within a certain group of ARBs to own their own piece of land.

Once the certificate of condonation is given to each ARB possessing an e-title, it means their land is already debt-free, Enciso said.

The “new lands,” Enciso explained, are those which were part of landholdings recently acquired by the government and were also subjected to CARP.

Enciso said, despite many challenges, they were optimistic that they can beat Marcos’s deadline on CARP. She admitted though that protests against CARP land coverage in Negros remain their toughest concern.

Lawyer Armando Jarilla, the national coordinator of Task Force Mapalad (TFM), the largest group of ARBs in the country, expressed doubts about DAR’s ability to fulfill its promises before 2028.

With a deficit of nearly 200,000 hectares in land distribution in Negros alone, Jarilla said the government’s promise may be unrealistic.

He also criticized DAR-Western Visayas for its poor performance, citing an average distribution of only 3,000 hectares per year in Negros. – Rappler.com

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