The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has reassured farmers that they will still be distributing land after June 30, 2014 in spite of the pending bills at the House of Representatives and the Senate seeking to extend the power of DAR to issue Notices of Coverage (NOCs).
“The DAR wishes to reassure the farmers that there is no need to panic. Even if the NOC [Notice of Coverage] Extension Bill was not passed last Wednesday, DAR can still distribute land. What DAR cannot do after June 2014 is to issue Notices of Coverage and accept Voluntary Offers to Sell unless its power to do so is extended,” DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said.
Parungao clarified that DAR does not seek for the extension to distribute land since any amendatory law is unnecessary due to Section 30 of Republic Act No. 9700 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).
“Section 30 permits DAR to complete the acquisition and distribution of landholdings for which there are pending cases or proceedings. And since a Notice of Coverage initiates land distribution proceedings for lands subject to compulsory acquisition, then all landholdings with NOCs can still be distributed after June 2014,” Parungao noted.
Parungao added that the Department of Justice has concurred with DAR’s position backed up by Special Provision No. 2 of the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) which states that “all lands which have been issued notices of coverage and with pending cases and/or proceedings as of June 30, 2014 shall continue to beprocessed until issuance of the duly registered certificate of land ownership award to the individual agrarian reform beneficiaries in accordance with Section 30 of R.A. No. 9700 and Item IV (A.1) of DAR A.O. No. 2, Series of 2009, as amended.”
Meanwhile, DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Jose Z. Grageda has clarified that as of May 20, 2014, only 14,085 landholdings covering 88,962 hectares have pending NOC issuance and service or publication contrary to the claim of Rep. Teddy Baguilat that as many as 200,000 hectares will not be issued NOCs and thus will be undistributed after June 2014.
Grageda further noted that DAR has issued 67,577 NOCs for 628,745 hectares of land subject to compulsory acquisition from 2012 to 2013. A total of 11,178 landholdings covering 108,216 hectares have also been issued and served NOCs from January to May 20, 2014. PNA