DAR chief: Freeze land conversion for 2 years

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DAR chief: Freeze land conversion for 2 years

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For food security and farmers protection, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano reinforced the stand of his department for two-year freeze of land conversion in the country.

He said he hopes President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) signs the proposed Executive Order declaring moratorium of land conversion in the country despite some opposition mostly from land developers.

This concern is one of the highlights of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Summit 2017 held here where he was the guest speaker along with PARPO II Grace Fua, DAR regional director Alejandro Otacan and agrarian reform communities in the province attending.

“Pakigbisog Alang Sa Kalamboan ug Tinooray nga Repormang Agraryo” (Struggle towards Development and Genuine Agrarian Reform Program) was this year’s theme.

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He told media he and the agency he is leading is waiting for PRRD to ink the said EO suspending for two years the processing and approval of all applications for land-use conversions of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.”

The former Anak Pawis representative to the House said the freeze “will be applied to all awarded lands under Republic Act 6657 as amended, Presidential Decree No. 27 and other agrarian reform laws.”

“Also, agricultural lands with notices of coverage issued by DAR, irrigated and irrigable lands, prime agricultural lands, retention areas of the land owners which are tenanted and agricultural lands with presence of agricultural activities that are being cultivated by the farmers individually or collectively are all covered in the EO implementation,” report quoted him of this.

Mariano said once the EO is signed, a task force will be formed to the status of the land-use conversion in the country and the DAR will call upon the support of other Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp)-implementing agencies.

DAR says, “The relevant provisions in the Philippine Constitution give a foundation which specifically addresses the issue of industrialization based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform while ensuring the optimal use of the nation’s limited land resources (Article XII, Sec. II, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines)”

The provision is qualified by the declaration that the use of property bears a social function, implying maximum productivity for all lands (Article III, Sections I, I5 and I6, The 1987 Constitution.

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“Land use conversion is allowed because of the following realities: (1) Requirements of people for housing to respond the growing housing needs of the people; (2) Industrialization. Some agricultural lands need to be developed for non-agricultural purposes as not to hinder industrialization in urban and rural areas; (3) Agricultural lands already devoted to non-agricultural uses prior to affectivity of CARL but are classified as agricultural lands; (4) Land Resources maximization. There are programs that need to be implemented in agricultural but marginal areas.”

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Under Section 65 of RA 6657, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is “authorized under certain conditions, the reclassification or conversion and the disposition of lands awarded to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs). Section 4 of the Executive Order No . 129-A mandates DAR to approve or disapprove the conversion, restructuring or readjustment of agricultural lands into non-agricultural uses. Section 5 of the same EO authorizes DAR to have exclusive authority to approve or disapprove conversion of agricultural land to residential, commercial, industrial, and other uses as may be provided for by law.  Section 4 of Malacañang Memorandum Circular No. 54, s. 1993 provides that action on application for land use conversion on individual landholdings shall remain as the responsibility of the DAR.”

Mariano lamented that since the approval of the Constitution in 1987, no single government agency has monitored land conversion in the country.

He stressed this move for land conversion freeze should be done now before it’s too late because “we have to preserved agricultural lands for food security and farmers’ protection.”

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Mariano led the distribution of CLOA assisted by DAR officials during the program along with Otaca, Atty. Robert Pahilga, ARDA Josephus Baterna and PARPO Grace Fua.

PARPO Eddie Manginsay gave the closing message at the program hosted by Merly Bantugan and Pete Pangandoyon. (rvo) 

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