New DAR chief vows to distribute remaining CLOAs to farmers

New DAR chief vows to distribute remaining CLOAs to farmers

MANILA – Newly appointed acting Secretary Bernie Ferrer Cruz on Monday took the helm of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from outgoing Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones in a simple turnover ceremony at the DAR covered court in Diliman, Quezon City.

Cruz vowed to lead the department in bringing progress in the countryside by prioritizing the needs of the farmer-beneficiaries.

Aside from prioritizing farmers’ needs, Cruz also wants to fast-track the distribution of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), as well as the provision of support programs and services to ARB organizations (ARBOs) and fast-track the cases under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) implementation.

“Under my leadership, the agency would double its effort to distribute all the remaining undistributed lands to the landless farmers, provide support services to ARBs and bring social justice in agrarian reform communities,” he said in a news release.

Cruz said farm consolidation may be the best path toward improving agriculture, livelihood, and productivity.

He said there are two consolidating initiatives that are already being pursued by the DAR which include the “Mega-Farm” and the Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness projects.

“Both initiatives are intended to improve market linkages and the competitiveness of farmers and aid the DAR in coordinating with institutional partners that can assist in the capital buildup, management skills, and research and development,” Cruz said.

He said the improvements to farm incomes and productivity will also do much to encourage agricultural expansion and inspire succeeding generations to continue farming, both of which are critical to the nation’s achieving food security.

“I am committed to bring industrialization in the agricultural sector and through the provisions of support services, such as livelihood opportunities, infrastructure projects, farm machinery and equipment, capability-buildings training, loan facilities, among other support, we can achieve a stable rural economy,” he added

Cruz was the undersecretary for foreign-assisted and special projects office prior to his appointment.

It can be recalled that Cruz played a big role in the approval by the World Bank (WB) of the DAR’s Support to Parcelization of Land to Individual Title (SPLIT).

The SPLIT program seeks to give a total of 1.1 million agrarian reform beneficiaries, covered under collective certificates of land ownership award (CCLOA), the chance to identify and own their respective individual land titles and farm lots.

The WB approved a loan package amounting to PHP24 billion for the implementation of the SPLIT program, comprising 78 percent loan proceeds amounting to PHP19.24 billion and 22 percent Government of the Philippines (GOP) counterpart amounting to PHP5.385 billion.

The project will be implemented by DAR in 78 provinces in 15 regional offices, covering a total area of 1.368 million hectares, starting this year 2020 until 2024.

Cruz replace Castriciones who is running for senator under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in the May 9, 2022 elections. (PNA)

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