About 500 members of Task Force Mapalad marched along the main streets of Bacolod City and staged a picket in front of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office yesterday to call for the issuance of notices of land coverage and the fast-tracking of land distribution in Negros Occidental.
DAR officials in Negros Occidental, meanwhile, also announced that they are waiting for the resolution from the Supreme Court on the 11 haciendas in the province covered by the stock distribution option, after the SC ruling on the case of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, North Negros Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Enrique Paredes said.
Under the scheme, Paderes said farm workers are given the option whether to have shares of stocks in the haciendas or to own the lands that they till.
He said there are 12 haciendas in the country under the SDO scheme, 11 of them is in Negros Occidental, and they want to distribute the lands immediately but are still waiting for the order from the SC.
Jose Rodito Angeles, chairman of TFM council of leaders, said he hopes the success of Hacienda Luisita farmers is the beginning and the sign that they will also receive the social justice they long for.
However, Angeles said they are disappointed on the inaction of DAR to implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms particularly in land surveying and evaluation.
Angeles said DAR has only two more years to finish the implementation yet they still have 135,199 hectares to cover and evaluate in the province.
“We fear that if we do not receive the notices for land coverage, there is no more chance for us to acquire the lands we have been tilling for decades,” Angeles said.
Paredes, however said, it takes a long process before they can distribute the lands to the beneficiaries and provide them with legal ownership, as the process usually takes 14 months because they have to study the documents submitted to them.
South Negros PARO Florentino Sildan said that in evaluating the documents, they need to plot the technical description reflected in the land title and to check whether the owner of the land title is still the same to determine if it will be covered by the land holdings or not.
Sildan also said the delay in the land distribution is usually the unavailability of land titles and the identification of farm workers. Undersecretary for Field Operations Narciso Nieto told the DAILY STAR that he had issued directives to the PAROs of Negros Occidental to finish the issuance of the land notices before the end of March.
However, Nieto said that there are procedures they had to follow that caused the delay of the distribution.
DAR in Negros Occidental has 135,199 hectares up for distribution but only 129,000 hectares will be given until 2013, 102,000 hectares of which are under compulsory acquisition, Paredes said. *LTG