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Friday, April 12, 2024

DAR chief vows to resolve half of 2.4K pending agrarian reform cases this year

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The Department of Agriculture (DAR) is expected to resolve at least half of its 2,400 “vintage” Agrarian Law Implementation (ALI) cases this year.

During a news conference in Malacañang on Tuesday, DAR Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III announced he is set to sign the resolution for 200 cases on Wednesday bringing their total resolved ALI cases to 1,200.

Among the recently resolved cases, he said, was the agrarian land issue in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac, which involved a dispute between two farmers groups involving over 600 hectares of land.

“Probably in a matter of two weeks we will be able to distribute land titles to prevent any more trouble,” Estrella said. “We will release the titles for 450 families,” he added.

Aside from the ALI cases, Estrella said the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board also has another 2,300 pending cases.

Manpower shortage

Estrella attributed DAR’s large backlog to lack of personnel, explaining since they only have 64 lawyers to handle pending cases.

He explained they are unable to hire more lawyers since vacant positions have a low starting pay.

“We are unable to accelerate [our case resolution] since we lack lawyers and we can hire initially with only P50,000 starting salaries. This made it difficult for us to hire credible and capable lawyers,” Estrella said.

The DAR official said they were able to address this by abolishing or merging their unfilled positions to create positions, which have higher salaries.

“With our Scrap and Build Program, we were able to produce 64 positions for Attorney IV with a salary of P82,000,” Estrella said.

“We are now recruiting lawyers for the Attorney IV position with the intent of being able to catch up with the backlog that we have inherited,” he added.

This was in line with the marching orders of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to implement genuine agrarian reform by resolving the pending agrarian land cases and the distribute 50,000 land titles within the year.

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