By Mark L. Garcia
Bacolod City, Negros Occidental — While graduating students are getting their diplomas this March, close to 2,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Negros Occidental also got their certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) here yesterday from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
DAR distributed a total of 1,940 CLOAs to ARBs covering 1,823.55 hectares, the biggest land distribution so far this year at the Bacolod Pavilion Hotel in Bacolod City ahead of today’s birthday celebration of President Duterte.
These ARBs came from 11 cities and 12 towns of Neg. Occ. with their newly-acquired lands came from 108 landholdings.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Karlo Bello also thanked the ARBs for their patience in waiting for their lands to be distributed, and he urge them to cultivate their lands.
Bello led the distribution of CLOAs and during an interview yesterday, he said that these farmers should not sell their acquired lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as it is not allowed by the law.
“I would like to remind them that they should not sell these lands and make use of it to fulfill their dreams,” he said, adding “Cultivate these lands, this is the purpose of CARP law.”
He said that in Negros Occidental about 103,000 has. of land are still to be covered and might take a long time to distribute it as the landholdings in the province are almost owned by private individuals and entities.
The province’s balance is the biggest in the country and Bello added that in the country almost half million hectares of agricultural land are still to be covered under CARP program.
Regional Director Stephen Leonidas also said in the number of CLOAs distributed, 59 percent of it is in north Negros, and 41 percent in south Negros. He added that only 65 percent of the distributed lands are planted with sugarcane, while 15 percent are areas with rice crops, 10 percent with corn, and 7 percent with other root crops.
Leonidas said that 99 percent of the lands needed to be covered are owned by private landholdings. Despite this figure, Bello lauded the local DAR personnel for still achieving annual targets.
“The landholdings in Negros Occidental is very contentious but amid the challenges, local DAR officials managed to still achieve good accomplishments,” Bello said.