By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has given the green light for the distribution of government-owned agricultural lands to land reform beneficiaries.
The President issued Executive Order No. 75 directing government agencies “to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries” to improve their living conditions.
The order, signed by the President last February 15, was released by the Palace Wednesday. It takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.
Under EO 75, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has been directed to acquire government-owned agricultural lands “which are no longer actually directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired.”
Within 30 days from the effectivity of EO 75, government agencies must identify such lands and submit a list to the DAR that indicates the location, use, and legal basis of ownership.
An inventory of these lands will be prepared by the DAR in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The DAR will then validate the identified lands and initiate the transfer and distribution to qualified beneficiaries for cultivation or agricultural use.
The President has directed the DAR and the Department of Justice to formulate the rules and regulations to implement the EO 75. The rules must include the criteria for the validation of such lands, identification of qualified beneficiaries, and mechanisms and procedures in case of protests or appeals.
The funding for the initial land distribution will be charged against the sources identified by the Department of Budget and Management.
It will then be included in the annual budget of the concerned agencies.
President Duterte previously pledged to give away idle government lands to land reform beneficiaries in a bid to improve their plight.
He also considered genuine land reform as a strategy to defeat the communist armed struggle in the country.