The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has a long way to go before all land reform beneficiaries could have lands they can call their own.
And DAR has to make an explanation why its regional directors have an unliquidated P800 million fund transfers to the controversial Procurement Service, Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM)
Since its creation, the DAR has lead the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), some 4.943 million hectares of land have been awarded to 2.908 million agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) since 1972.
‘’And DAR will continue to perform its mandate to deliver the remaining 513,287 hectares,’’ Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairwoman of a Senate finance sub-committee that heard DAR officials explain their proposed 2022 budget of P12.8 billion.
Villar said that 67 percent or 343,498 hectares of available land for distribution are tagged as problematic, the biggest percentage of which are from Region 6.
She said that with congressional approval of the requested P 12.838 billion budget, DAR hopes ‘’to contribute to the attainment of agrarian peace and stability, sustainable development, social justice, and industrialization in the rural areas.’’
With an average of 50,000 hectares for distribution annually set by DAR, Senator Imee Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, asked for a more realistic assessment of DAR’s targets.
‘’It is the slowest land reform program in the world,’’ she added.
Marcos also asked DAR officials why the Commission on Audit (COA) discovered that DAR has an unliquidated funds of P1.36 billion.
She said DAR regional directors have an unliquidated fund transfer to PS-DBM where the attention of senators is riveted right now following its questionable disbursement of the P42 billion COVID-19 response funds of the Department of Health.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is on the warpath against the PS-DBM which awarded contracts for COVID-related medical supplies to ‘’choice’ ’suppliers using the DOH budget.
DAR officials explained that the fund transfers to PS-DBM was for the purchase of ‘’consumables’’ such as office supplies.
This angered Villar who asked whether there is an under the table arrangement with PS-DBM whose officials seem powerful.
‘’Dala kayo ng dala ng pera. Anong kutsabahan niyan? (You keep on delivering money. is there a conspiracy?)’’ she asked.