by Tara Yap
Iloilo City — If farmers in Western Visayas are to own free farmland, the agrarian reform law has to be passed soon.
Gideon Umadhay Jr., regional director of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), joined the call for the passage of House Bill No. 555, which is crucial to meet the target for land distribution to farmer beneficiaries.
As of last December, the regional DAR office distributed a total of 222,010 hectares of land to 139,958 farmers in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo.
It also acquired 29,636 hectares of land for distribution.
Umadhay admitted there are recurring challenges in the acquisition and distribution of lands.
“First and foremost factor that impedes agrarian reform program implementation is the compartmentalized procedure in acquisition of lands as many different (government) agencies that manage land as scarce resource,” Umadhay said.
Aside from DAR, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also distributes free land, he said. Then there is the role of Land Registry Authority (LRA) in issuing land titles.
Another factor is the opposition of landowners, who often resort to violent tactics in blocking land distribution.
The regional DAR office has also completed at least P54.9 million worth of projects for farmer beneficiaries including farm-to-market roads and irrigation systems.