By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is seeking the approval of ₱8.426-billion budget for 2020.
The proposed 2020 budget is up three percent from last year’s ₱8.202 billion.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones justified the proposed budget by citing Executive Order No. 75, which “places under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) all idle government-owned agricultural lands.”
He said that from 1972 to June this year, around 4.8 million hectares of agricultural lands, 2.7 million hectares of which are privately owned, have already been distributed to some 2.87 million agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Still up for distribution are 544,327 hectares, 504,362 hectares of which or 92.66 percent are privately owned lands, he said, a seemingly herculean task due to the strong resistance from landowners.
Castriciones said DAR is confident that it could carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order of finishing the land acquisition and distribution on or before the end of his term in 2022.
He added that efforts are also intensified to deliver timely support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries to ensure that the farmlands awarded to them would be harnessed to their maximum potential and make the rural communities “vibrant and self-reliant.”
The DAR chief also vowed to fill up all vacant positions in the Department before the end of the year “to give all our staff the motivation to give their best” in serving all stakeholders of the government’s land reform program.