THE Senate Finance Committee approved Wednesday the P8.426-billion budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for 2020, with the department also seeking additional funding to help achieve its 2022 goal of land acquisition and distribution.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar, who chairs the finance committee sub-panel tackling DAR’s budget, has endorsed its spending plan for plenary discussion. The 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) allocation for DAR is 3% higher than its 2019 budget.
“Gusto lang naming malaman (We just want to know), with the present budget, magkano (how much) every year ang idadagdag (will be added) for them to accomplish what the President told them, which is to distribute everything by 2022,” Ms. Villar told reporters after the hearing.
The NEP gives DAR about P2 billion for acquisition and distribution for 2020, less than the P3 billion the department estimates is needed.
“They have to compute how much it will cost them for distribution… President [Rodrigo R.] Duterte (is saying is that) they have to finish everything by 2022. Tinatanong ko magkano para matapos nyo ng (I’m asking how much is needed finish the job by) 2022,” adding that if the request is reasonable she will back the extra funding.
In a Cabinet meeting on April 1, Mr. Duterte ordered DAR to expedite the issuance of individual Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) by acquiring and distributing private agricultural land and parceling out collective CLOAs. It was also ordered to identify government-owned land suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones said that for the 2020-2022 period, the department plans to distribute a total of 328,968 hectares of private agricultural land, 144,647 hectares of government-owned land, and break up 1.4 million hectares of collective CLOAs.
Ms. Villar asked DAR to identify areas with the most number of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to help set priorities.
“I want to know where the most ARBs are by region, and then (how many) ARBOs (Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations) per region. I want to know what their projects are… para makita natin kung doon ba sa marami inilagay yung development project (in order to see whether the development projects are going to the areas with the most beneficiaries,” she said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang