LUCENA CITY: Giving land to the farmers is now giving headaches to the local agrarian officers here, particularly in the third district of Quezon Province.
The Manila Times was informed that some parcels of farmlands distributed during the campaign period last May via Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) were allegedly sold or pawned to other rich landowners and some farmer-beneficiaries took flight after cutting and selling almost all the coconut trees planted in those areas.
On February 4, more than 400 hectares of farmlands owned by the Reyes family were distributed to farmer-tenants in San Narciso town. The distribution was reportedly facilitated by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, with his son, then gubernatorial candidate Irvin Alcala on the forefront of the distribution. Around 200 families were the beneficiaries of the program.
After six months, some of the beneficiaries are now under investigation by the local Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) based in Gumaca town, allegedly with the risk of their CLOA being cancelled and cases filed against involved farmers.
An authority from the DAR-Quezon 2 who requested anonymity said that they are, indeed, in the process of looking into the distributed land being sold or pawned.
The source confirmed that there are CLOA holders who sold their land to a rich landowner in San Narciso town and another CLOA holder who pawned his land.
Jansept Geronimo, spokesman for the non-government organization Quezon Association for Rural Development and Democratization (Quardds), said some of the farmers were forced to commit such violations owing to lack of support services that should be provided also by DAR. Quardds acted as legal conduit for funding from the Agriculture Department down to the farmers’ organizations in the province.
The DAR source, however, refuted this statement, claiming they have support services in the form of livelihood training and funding assistance, provided that the farmers will form a cooperative that shall be recognized by the DAR as the financial aid recipient.
The DAR investigation will continue this August and if found guilty, the farmers who violated CLOA provisions shall be lodged with respective cases, said the DAR source, and their CLOA shall be cancelled and transferred to other farmers who are willing to bear the obligations.
One of the Reyes heirs, said that they should be furnished with inventory of the farmer-beneficiaries in order to know if those recipients of their former farmlands are still there and assured that their land were not taken from them, only ending up in another rich landowner.
Belly M. Otordoz