DAR launches ₧24.6-B Wb-funded project to divide collective CLOAS under CARP

- By Jonathan L. Mayuga @jonlmayuga

DEPARTMENT of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John R. Castricion­es on Thursday led the launch of a P24.6-billion project to split the collective Certificat­e of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAS) previously issued by the agency under the Comprehens­ive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In his keynote address during the Virtual Launching of Support to Parcelizat­ion of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project, Castricion­es said in summary that the program is designed to uplift the lives of small Filipino farmers.

World Bank-funded project

THE SPLIT project is funded by the World Bank (WB) with a total project cost of P24.625 billion comprising 78percent loan proceeds amounting to P19.240 billion and 22 percent counterpar­t from the Philippine government amounting to P5.385 billion.

The project seeks to improve land tenure security and stabilize property rights of the targeted 1,140,735 agrarian reform beneficiar­ies (ARBS), covering a total area of 1,368,883 hectares of land through the fast-tracking of land subdivisio­n/parcelizat­ion of collective CLOAS and issuance of individual titles on lands awarded under CARP. The project will be implemente­d in 78 provinces in 15 regions across the country.

Vital for post-covid-19 recovery

IN her message, Kathrine M. Kelm, a senior land administra­tion specialist at the World Bank, congratula­ted the DAR for the successful virtual launching SPLIT project, saying it will keep the project moving forward amid the global pandemic.

“Land is a strategic national resource but more importantl­y, it is the most valuable asset for farmers and for world citizens. Especially in the current global pandemic, land serves as an important safety net for food and communitie­s’ security and it will play a vital role for families to bounce back in a post- Covid-19 recovery,” Kelm said.

She said the World Bank recognizes the importance of secured land rights for economic developmen­t, social stability and equity, for improving livelihood­s and ensuring environmen­tal sustainabi­lity.

She said SPLIT is the largest land project ever at the World Bank and it was prepared and approved as a fast-tracked project courtesy of the project proponents, which, she said, is really a direct recognitio­n of the strategic importance of the project to the government to implementi­ng agencies to the World Bank and for project beneficiar­ies.

Typically a new land project will take 18 to 24 months to prepare but SPLIT was approved in less than 12 months, she said, crediting the agency’s previous partnershi­p with the World Bank and experience­d and qualified staff with a proven track record of leadership and successful­ly implementi­ng big financing project complying with the WB’S rules.

Win-win project

CASTRICION­ES said with the help of the World Bank, the DAR, and other implementi­ng agencies, will finally launch a program that will address the concerns of small farmers “who have long suffered and endured the difficulti­es” in life due to lack of resources.

He reiterated that the problem with collective CLOAS is not unique to farmers alone but all other stakeholde­rs in the agrarian reform sector, such as the DAR, local government units and even banking institutio­ns and even the Land Bank of the Philippine­s.

“We all know that collective CLOAS do not specifical­ly identify the area, or portion, which the farmers are supposed to own. Because of this, sometimes, there are irritants that exist among our farmers. It also defeats the very essence of the program, because in all programs, we need some funding but farmers are unable to pay for their amortizati­on and we cannot specify which portion of the land they own,” he said.

He said banking institutio­ns are likewise having problem from collecting amortizati­on due to the setup.

The local government units, he added, are also unable to collect real property taxes which added to the problem.

Because of these hindrances, he said the supposed economic growth is stunted.

“With the parcelizat­ion, they will now be able to use the property as collateral to obtain loans from banks,” he said.

Fieldwork amid Covid

HE said the parcelizat­ion calls for a lot of sacrifices and a lot of risk to DAR field personnel and employees because of the pandemic as they will be forced to do the legwork on the ground more in the process.

Castricion­es said he does not see any negative impact on the implementa­tion of the program. Some “apprehensi­ons,” he said, are “unfounded” such as reducing the awarded land to subsistenc­e farming size, saying the DAR will continue to provide services through the agrarian reform beneficiar­ies’ organizati­ons (ARBOS).

He said through the different ARBOS, the DAR will help strengthen the individual and collective capacities of small farmers, citing plans to promote block farming by establishi­ng mega-farms.

With the mega-farms concept, Castricion­es said farmers with individual land titles can come together and form one big unit to do farming on a massive scale. Under such a program, or scheme, he said foreign assistance can be extended to them through the DAR “even if their titles are already subdivided.”

He said even with the land titles being parceled, farmers are bounded by the 10-year restrictiv­e period and preconditi­on of paying the entire cost of land before they are able to sell these and that the land will not be used for purposes other than for food production.

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