LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Likened to an umbilical cord that gives sustenance to an unborn child, Cordillerans regard their land as a link that defines their ancestry and brings them life.
“We inherited this land, it is really ours which our parents gave to us,” said Carmen Anas of Bayabas, Sablan in Ilocano while embracing the bunch of papers awarded by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones on Thursday at Barangay Alno, in this capital town.
Castriciones led the distribution of 86 Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in Benguet. It was received by only one representative per municipality in compliance with the prohibition of mass gathering.
Of the number, 78 are Original Certificates of Title (OCTs) and 10 are Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) covering 72.33 hectares of land spread out in seven municipalities in Benguet — Bakun, Bokod, Kapangan, Kibungan, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.
Anas said that while her land has only a little over 5,000 square meters, they have been holding on to the area which was given by her mother who was born and raised in Sablan.
“This is really ours, it was just titled and we are happy that we have this document because I do not have to go thru the rigors of having it documented. This title will protect our land and we can now say that it is ours because we have papers to show proof of our land,” Anas said in the dialect.
She said that while she was not born in Sablan, she returned to the land she inherited from her mother and is currently tilling it for livelihood.
Castriciones, during the turnover, said there would have been more CLOAs to be distributed and the event would have been held in Kapangan but the town was locked down due to a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
The distribution of CLOAs covering around 300 hectares of land in Kapangan town was postponed to a later date.
The DAR chief urged the CLOA beneficiaries to protect their land, not to sell them as such will be their protection from any pandemic.
“Don’t leave farming because even if life is difficult, the farmer will eat and survive as long as they have plants. It is the farmers who survive in any calamity or pandemic because they have food to serve on the table even if it is just with the fish sauce or the salt placed to season it,” he said in Ilocano during the event.
He mentioned the thrust of the agency and its mandate to give land to the people who till them — the farmers.
He also lauded the farmers for being heroes amid the pandemic. ” Most economies are suffering and many have lost their jobs but the hope of survival is anchored on the fact that there are farmers willing to till the soil to feed people,” he said.
DAR assistance to farmers
While in Benguet, the DAR Secretary also led the blessing and turn over of the PHP800,000 worth solar power irrigation system in Sitio Riverside, Barangay Alno here that will benefit cut flower farmers.
A total of PHP4.75 million worth of income-generating projects were also turned over to different organizations, cooperatives and groups whose members are agrarian reform beneficiaries operating in different towns of Benguet.
The projects include a PHP2-million capacity building and microfinance project for the Atok Arabica Coffee growers marketing cooperative under the agency’s Linking small farmers to the market.
Also, turned over was a bakery project for Pasdong farmers multi-purpose cooperative worth PHP580,000 under the agency’s village-level farm focus enterprise development.
Both beneficiaries are operating in the town of Atok in the northern part of Benguet.
Castriciones also led the turn over of the PHP600,000 worth of alternative livelihood for agrarian reform beneficiaries impacted by climate change. Three cooperatives from Atok, Tublay, and Tuba towns received the assistance.
Also turned over was the PHP779,939 convergence for livelihood assistance for two agrarian reform beneficiaries’ cooperatives in the towns of Bokod and Kabayan. (PNA)