LEGAZPI CITY – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones has reminded all Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) implementers in the region to do their utmost best to hasten the land acquisition and distribution process for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB).
The DAR chief, during his two-day visit in Camarines Sur on May 18-19 for the distribution of a total of 379 land titles to 231 ARBs, reminded the agency’s officials in local government units to heed the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte “to distribute all remaining agricultural lands on or before his term ends on June 30, 2022”.
Castriciones expressed his joy as he was distributing land titles to farmer-beneficiaries on Tuesday in Caramoan town but also lamented the condition they are currently in as he saw many of them are already old when they finally got to own the farmland that they are tilling.
The DAR chief, with Undersecretaries Emily Padilla and Virginia Orogo, handed over titles to 124 farmers who are tillers of lands in Barangay Gogon, Lahuy island, through the agency’s Serbisyong DAR-to-Door program.
On Wednesday, Castriciones distributed 255 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to 107 farmers at the Provincial Capitol Convention Center in Pili town.
Geri Buensalida, DAR-Bicol spokesperson, in an interview, said the DAR chief could not hide his sadness as he saw some old faces among the farmer-beneficiaries, an indication that they had waited for too long before they finally received their most cherished dream – land titles.
“At your age today, some of you cannot do farming anymore, a reality that brings sadness to my heart, knowing that you waited for so long to own a piece of farm lot,” Castriciones said.
The DAR chief reminded CARP field implementers not to make the same mistakes of unjustly keeping the land titles as what a provincial agrarian reform office in the Visayas did to a total of 2,007 land titles, thus, depriving affected farmer-beneficiaries of the opportunity to till their farm lots during their prime.
Buensalida said Castriciones and his deputies have been traveling by land, air, and sea to fulfill the task at hand notwithstanding the danger posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
He noted that according to residents of Lahuy Island, the DAR secretary is the first national government official who visited the island barangay.
“We owe it to our farmer-beneficiaries to deliver what is due them so that they can do their part – keep food available on our table – especially at this time of the pandemic,” Buensalida said.
Dominador Fernando Sr., 74 years old, a farmer-beneficiary from Barangay Gogon, expressed gratitude to Castriciones as he received the title for the land he has been tilling for so many years.
Fernando said he is very happy that his children will have something to inherit in the future.
“Despite the difficulty, the good secretary was able to visit us and able to award the titles that we are waiting for so long. Thank you very much,” he said. (PNA)