DAR denies its head is using CARP's land distribution to campaign for 2022 polls

Published August 24, 2021, 1:29 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Is Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones using the distribution of agricultural land titles as launchpad for the 2022 elections?

The Department of Agrarian Reform, as a government agency, does not think so.

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, DAR issued a statement saying that Castriciones has been active in the implementation of the “DAR-to-DOOR” program long before the talks of his potential inclusion in the senatorial slate of the administration party.

“Even before the pandemic, he has been aggressively distributing all available agricultural lands covered by Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to the public,” the statement read.

DAR is reacting to the statement of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson Danilo Ramos accused Castriciones of “early campaigning” by taking time “to personally hand over CLOAs (Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to select farmer-beneficiaries… before proceeding to a designated venue for the ceremonial CLOA distribution.”

Ramos added that Castriciones’ presence is “unnecessary in the deliverance of CLOAs” as the public fund is supposedly being used for his travels.

The “DAR-to-DOOR” program is also unnecessary and excessive due to the increased costs of traveling due to the need for COVID-19 tests and successive oil price hikes, he added.

The farmers’ group also called Castriciones’ action for posing for photos during the distribution as “political gimmickry,” DAR called KMP “insensitive to the plight of the farmers needing hope and inspiration during this pandemic.”

DAR added that Castriciones is now serving as the alter-ego of the President in terms of Agrarian Reform to make the “people feel that the government is actively working for its constituents” as the chief executive could not roam around amid virus threats.

“Ramos and the KMP leadership are out of touch with reality if they think that public service should stop in the middle of the pandemic,” part of DAR’s 2139-word statement read.

DAR also refuted the accusation made by KMP that landlords and capitalists allegedly continue to hold sway over vast tracts of agricultural lands by saying their claim is “not supported by evidence based on the records of the DAR.”