The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) assured that due process will be observed in the resolution of protests, disputes, or claims arising from the distribution of government-owned lands (GOLs).
DAR Secretary John Castriciones recently signed Memorandum Circular 28 authorizing the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) to ensure the resolution of protests and disputes that will speed up the distribution of GOLs under Executive Order (EO) 75.
EO 75, signed by President Duterte in February 2019, directs all government instrumentalities to accelerate and ensure the immediate identification and segregation of all unclassified lands of public domain and all government-owned lands (GOLs), devoted to or suitable for agriculture and which are no longer actually, directly, and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired, shall be used for agrarian reform for eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries
Qualified beneficiaries under EO 75 are farmers, tillers, or farm workers who are landless or who own less than three hectares of agricultural lands; Filipino citizens; residents of the barangay (or the municipality if there are not enough qualified beneficiaries in the barangay) where the landholding is located; at least 15 years of age at the time of identification, screening, and selection of the farmer beneficiaries; and with willingness, aptitude, and ability to cultivate and make the land as productive as possible as provided under Section 22 of the Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
“The memorandum circular shall apply only to all protests, disputes, claims, or controversies arising from the coverage and distribution of GOLs in favor of qualified beneficiaries,” Castriciones said.
Under the DAR MC, in case there is a petition or protest involving the implementation of EO 75, the Office of the Secretary or any other DAR office shall refer the case to the executive director of the DARAB Secretariat, who, in turn, will issue an order directing the Field Operations Office to submit a comment within a specified period and raffle the case to the board members for review.
The board member assigned to the case will issue an order directing all parties to submit their respective position papers for resolution or may schedule a hearing for investigation. The assigned board member will submit its recommendation for the Secretary’s consideration, on whether to grant or deny the petition or protest, the circular further noted.
A party involved may file a motion for reconsideration or an appeal within 15 days from receipt of the decision, it added.
“Notwithstanding the filing of the appeal, the identification, validation, segregation, transfer, and distribution of coverable GOLs shall proceed up to the issuance of a title in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, if the coverable GOL is a titled property,” Castriciones said.
However, if the GOL is not titled or is covered by a proclamation, the process will proceed up to the generation of the certificates of land ownership award unless the Office of the President enjoins DAR from continuing with the process of distribution.