The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Monday reiterated that no funds outside of what was appropriated by Congress were added to the landowners’ compensation which government used to pay the cash portion of the compensation to landowners.
In a statement, DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes explained that Congress appropriated a total of P7.932 billion for landowners’ compensation for the years 2010 and 2011, under the 2010 and 2011 General Appropriations Acts (GAA), respectively.
A Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) for the said amount was released to the Land Bank of the Philippines on October 4, 2011.
“Of the total amount, the release of P5.4 billion was facilitated through DAP and correspondingly released to the Land Bank as part of the government’s disbursement strategy,” de los Reyes said.
The DAR chief further asserted that paying the landowners for lands acquired for
distribution, in this case out of the P7.932 billion, was mandated not only by the law (R.A. No. 6657, as amended) but also by the Constitution.
“Some groups are trying to make it appear that this is the first time that the government is paying landowners. It is not. The DAR has been paying landowners for lands it acquired for distribution under its agrarian reform program for more than thirty years”, de los Reyes said.
Last week, de los Reyes explained that although an amount was indicated for landowners’ compensation in the list of DAP-identified projects, this item was included in the list only because it was part of the government’s disbursement strategy.
However, he pointed out that there was no augmentation of the funds facilitated through the DAP for the said purpose. He further clarified that the entire amount released through the NCA (cash) —a part of which was released through the DAP strategy—were appropriated by the Congress under the 2010 and 2011 GAAs.
The DAR also belied today statements that it contradicted the explanation of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the release of cash for landowner’s compensation through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
DAR stated that this actually complemented the “List of DAP-Identified Projects” published by the DBM in its website, which described the Landowners Compensation item as “P5.46B indicated in the memo to the President but only indicated as cash release . . . ” and where the following statements were provided for as remarks: “This item was included in the DAP as part of the disbursement strategy since it only required the release of the NCA (cash). It already has an appropriation in the FY 2010 and FY 2011 GAA in the total amount of P7.932B.
The cash requirement was released on October 4, 2011 to beef up disbursement alongside disbursements under DAP.”
DAR emphasized that the funds for landowners’ compensation was validly
appropriated and allotted under the 2010 and 2011 GAAs, with the actual cash release of a portion of the amount was merely facilitated through the DAP.
DAR also reiterated that it was the Supreme Court decision on the case of Apo Fruits Corporation and Hijo Plantation, Inc. vs Land Bank of the Philippines in April 2011 that prompted the Land Bank to request for the immediate release of the cash appropriated for landowners’ compensation.
“We must also remember that the Supreme Court had not yet decided with finality the Hacienda Luisita case when the acceleration of the cash release for landowners’ compensation was approved in 2011,” said DAR Undersecretary Anthony Paruñgao in refuting statements that the DAP was approved to pay Hacienda Luisita, Inc.
The Supreme Court decision in the Hacienda Luisita case became final only in April 2012, six months after the NCA for the landowners compensation was released to the Land Bank.
“HLI is just one of the more than 4,000 landowners who were paid just compensation from the Agrarian Reform Fund which was partially funded through the DAP strategy,” Paruñgao said.
“Let me add that if there are groups who believe that the Land Bank has made a mistake in its appraisal of the just compensation of the HLI, the proper forum to question this amount is the DAR Adjudication Board or the special agrarian courts (Regional Trial Court),” he added.