The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has begun to distribute the land titles intended for Cebu farmers that were either hidden or forgotten for over 30 years at the provincial office.
The distribution had to do with 2,034 undistributed land titles covering 1,636 hectares (ha) that were supposed to have been given to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Cebu as early as 1987.
Out of the land titles, 1,709 of them with an area of 1,320 ha can be immediately distributed. The remaining 325 land titles are for ARBs who are unknown or cannot be located in their respective areas.
Central Visayas Regional Director Resty Osias said the DAR regional office “is working aggressively to validate the undistributed land titles in the province of Cebu to distribute them immediately”.
“We are doubling our efforts to finish this task and as much as we can we would distribute them on a daily basis because the ARBs’ land titles should have been distributed a long time ago,” Osias said.
Less than 200 land titles have been distributed so far as per the latest turnover rites on Wednesday, May 12.
Aside from the immediate distribution of land titles, DAR Region VII also formed a legal team to help recipients understand the right of succession in case of death of the actual beneficiary.
DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones revealed on May 3 that the agency uncovered 2,007 land certificates consisting of 1,620 certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) and 387 Emancipation Patents (EPs) dating as far back as 1987 that were stored and left undistributed by the provincial office in Cebu.
A task force was then created to conduct a ground validation to know the actual status of the land and the ARBs in Cebu.
The secretary said the officials involved had deprived the beneficiaries of their opportunities to own a piece of land as mandated by the law.
“If proven that their failure is due to culpable neglect or a willful omission, these officials would face imprisonment and the payment of fine for their crimes they committed,” Castriciones said. He added that the officials would still be held accountable even if they’re no longer with DAR.