The national government has converted a portion of the Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (SIPLAS) in Surigao del Norte under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which would pave the way for land distribution among landless farmers in the area.
The decision was formalized by the signing of agreement between top officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) using the Executive Order No. 75, series of 2019 as the basis.
The Executive Order, issued by President Duterte, directed all government instrumentalities to identify idle lands owned by the government suitable for agricultural purposes which will be distributed to qualified beneficiaries of CARP.
SIPLAS contains an approximate area of 278,914.131 hectares as a protected landscape and seascape.
DAR-Caraga Regional Director Leomides R. Villareal said that based on the review and findings of the DAR validation committee, some portions of the SIPLAS are considered alienable and disposable (A & D) agricultural government-owned land (GOL) under the DENR and are no longer actually used for its purpose, and therefore, can be covered under the CARP, through EO 75, subject to final delineation and precise survey.
The Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines.
On October 10, 1996, the terrestrial, wetland, and marine areas of Siargao and its surrounding islets in the northeastern part of Mindanao, province of Surigao del Norte are declared as a protected area under the category of protected landscape and seascape, through the Proclamation No. 902, by the President of the Philippines.
After the transfer is completed, the DAR will proceed with the process of land acquisition and distribution.
Qualified beneficiaries are farmers, tillers, or farmworkers 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 Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).