The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is seeking a P10.28-billion budget for 2018.
The sum is 0.7 percent higher than DAR’s 10.14-billion budget for 2017.
“[Using this proposed budget, DAR under the Duterte administration will try to give sufficient provision to support our farmers and further develop our agriculture sector],” Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano told the House Committee on Appropriations on Monday.
The P10.28-billion proposed budget under the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP) includes, among others, a P1.59-billion allocation for general administration and support as well as P693.4 million for support to operations, which include funding for policy formulation, planning, monitoring and agrarian reform information and education.
DAR’s Land Tenure Security Program has a P2.86-billion budget, Agrarian Justice Delivery Program (P935.7 million) and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development and Sustainability Program (P1.87 billion) under the 2018 NEP.
According to a statement issued on Monday, DAR has been able to distribute 4.74 million hectares to 2.8 million agrarian reform beneficiaries from 1972 to March 2017.
“This year, DAR targets to distribute a total of 48,588 hectares to 46,253 agrarian reform beneficiaries. From January to June 2017, DAR has already covered a total of 11,356 hectares,” Mariano said.
The Agrarian Reform department has a beginning balance of 602,306 hectares this year.
For 2018, it aims to distribute 53,841 hectares of land which, according to the statement, will benefit 46,072 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The remaining 499,877 hectares are for distribution in 2019 and beyond.
Meanwhile, Mariano urged lawmakers to pass the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.
“At present, DAR’s main function of distributing land is covered by Executive Order 129-A, Series of 1987. This gives DAR continuing power to acquire, administer, distribute and develop agricultural lands for agrarian reform purposes even after the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program [CARP] expiration in 2014,” he said.
“However, there remain several limitations in our current legal mandate. One glaring example is the exemption and exclusion of otherwise productive agricultural lands for coverage. This is why we take this opportunity for Congress to also help the department in passing a new agrarian reform law that will expand the mandate of the DAR and facilitate the coverage of the remaining agricultural lands not yet covered by the past agrarian reform program,” Mariano added.