More than 2,000 land titles in Cebu remain undistributed since 1987 after they were kept from farmers, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) bared on Monday, May 3.
A total of 2,007 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were recently found stuck in between two sacks, untouched in the last two decades inside the Land Transfer and Implementation Division (LTID) of the DAR provincial office in Cebu.
“Some CLOAs were released by the Register of Deeds some 30 years ago but remained undistributed thereby depriving agrarian reform beneficiaries of their right to own land,” Secretary Brother John Castriciones said during a press briefing.
Officials involved in the undistributed stack of land titles will be held liable, whether or not they are still with the department, the secretary declared.
“We will not spare anyone, there is no sacred cow here,” he said.
“If you are involved here, we will file a case against you, if you’re still with the DAR or you are already out of DAR, we will file charges against you because you have deprived our farmers of their rights to use that land. E sila yung kawawa, dahil hindi mo binigay yung titulo, sobra ‘yan (They are the ones who suffered because you failed to give their titles, that’s already too much),” the secretary lamented.
According to the task force created to investigate the case, around 13 officials were initially found to be involved in the failed distribution of CLOAS. But the secretary expects this number to increase as the investigation progresses.
Criminal and administrative cases, including graft and corruption, will be filed against the erring officials.
The DAR chief vowed that they would still distribute the newly-discovered land titles to their owners.
In case some of the original beneficiaries have passed away, the land titles will be given to their successors in the family or will be passed on to other beneficiaries.
The discovery also prompted the secretary to order all regional directors to conduct an audit of the undistributed land titles in their areas.
It was learned that land titles covering around 254,000 hectares remain undistributed, but are intended for distribution this year.