By Minerva BC Newman
CEBU CITY – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones condemned the killing of farmers in Hacienda Nene in Sagay City but insisted there is no justification for the members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) to enter the hacienda because it is not covered by land reform.
Castriciones accused the NFSW of using the farmers as pawns to push its agenda of destroying the land reform program.
Had the farmers been patient enough, DAR could have looked for other areas where they could properly be installed with certificates of land ownership awards or CLOAs, he said.
“Giving land is not just like giving bread. It entails 25 steps to complete the legal process of distributing CARP lands to legitimate beneficiaries. Let’s just be patient,” Castriciones said.
He told Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview Tuesday that DAR had been successful in its land reform distribution in Sagay.
DAR has distributed 107 CLOAs to 100 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in four haciendas and land reform corporations in Sagay, Castriciones said.
He said the Sagay incident was an isolated case.
Since 1988, DAR has distributed over 4.8 million hectares of CARP lands with more than 2.8 million agrarian reform beneficiaries, Castriciones said.
Providing more figures, DAR Western Visayas Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said DAR has distributed 77 percent or 417,436 hectares from its total CARP scope of 544,735 has.
Negros Occidental is where most of the haciendas or sugar plantations are and is where majority of the agrarian reform problems surface.
The province’s CARP covers 298,321 hectares and 64 percent (190,843 hectares) have been distributed, Leonidas said.
DAR Central Visayas Regional Director Marion Abella added that her department has an average target of 2,000 hectares for distribution annually. Siquijor has completed its CARP land acquisition and distribution program, while those in the other provinces of the region – Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental – are almost complete.
“Given the mandate and support, agrarian reform in the country may be completed within the next five to 10 years,” Castriciones said.