AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes is hell bent on hitting the 200,000-hectare land distribution target for the year, 68,000 hectares of which will be done by way of compulsory acquisition.
De los Reyes said the target for compulsory acquisition is nearly three times the 25,000-hectare record, the highest ever accomplished in the history of the country’s agrarian reform program.
De los Reyes said that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has committed itself to distributing that much this year, having a lot of catching up to do, with about 930,000 hectares of farm lands still up for distribution up to 2014.
“We’ve got to perform better in land tenure improvement, accomplish the highest target that we can,” he stressed.
Compulsory acquisition is one of the modes of acquiring and distributing farm lands to landless farmers and it is being resorted to only when there is stiff opposition from the landowners.
There are two other modes are the voluntary offer to sell where the government pays the landowner and later collect amortization from the farmer-beneficiaries, and the voluntary land transfer where farmer-beneficiaries pay directly to the landowners.
Raising the ante on compulsory acquisition, De los Reyes said, shows that DAR is serious to finish the land tenure improvement on or before the 2014 deadline set under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reform (CARPer) Law.
He admitted though that the year’s target is veritably an uphill climb he vowed to take at all cost, considering that about two-thirds of which are contentious and complicated privately owned agricultural lands.
To ensure that there would be focus on the job at hand, De los Reyes said DAR personnel would be concentrating only on identifying farmer-beneficiaries and on determining which lands to be covered or not.
“The rest, we’ll outsource them to outside contractors,” he said.
In Negros Occidental alone where the balance for land distribution runs to as high as 100,000 hectares, De los Reyes said that retired municipal agrarian reform officers have been recalled as consultants since they have the expertise to process folders.
He added that retired LandBank personnel have also been hired to help hasten the processing of those folders and ensure that all pertinent documents are in order. “Remember, we are people on borrowed time!” he said.