Ex-DAR chief presses fresh count of CARP-awarded lands


Former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano on Thursday called for a nationwide validation of the status of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), saying farmers who have received parcels of land from haciendas such as the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac are no longer in possession of their government-awarded land.

“The need to evaluate and validate whether CARP beneficiaries remain in actual possession and control over awarded lands remains urgent today,” Mariano, currently the chairman emeritus of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

Mariano said the distribution of land ends with the actual possession of the agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“It has been too easy for DAR to show off CLOA [Certificate of Land Acquisition and Ownership] distributions as successes, but whether the farmers retain possession and control over the awarded lands long after the ceremonies is a wholly different matter. We have been demanding a nationwide revalidation, but DAR Secretary, John Castriciones, seems uninterested.”

Mariano further stressed “CLOA issuance in itself does not and cannot ensure the expropriation of landlords or the tenurial security of farmer-beneficiaries.”

In the case of Hacienda Luisita, where a 2017 DAR revalidation, under Mariano’s watch as DAR chief, revealed that 83 percent of the ARBs were no longer in possession of awarded lands.

He also shared that the latest publicly available data on DAR’s amortization collection dated March 2015, states that as high as 89 percent of ARBs were unable to pay in full, while 30 percent are in danger of disqualification. Under CARP, ARBs who fail to pay amortization for at least three years can be disqualified as beneficiaries.

“That the numbers are quite dated is precisely the point, since Castriciones has not been transparent about the actual extent of their failures. It is a grave and bewildering disappointment that he has not undertaken an updated revalidation nationwide. Is this an attempt at a cover-up?” Mariano asked.

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