Members of the House Committee on Agriculture have signed a manifesto asking President Benigno Aquino III to hold in abeyance the plan to downsize the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2014.
Rep. Pryde Henry Teves (Neg. Or., 3rd District), who chairs the committee, said the manifesto, that was also addressed to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and the Department of Budget and Management, said it will be unconstitutional to abolish DAR as the constitution provides that agrarian reform shall continue to be implemented with a corresponding annual budget.
He said P30 billion is needed to complete the mandate of DAR by 2014, including the distribution of more than 500,000 hectares of land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
But at its current pace, the DAR may not be able to comply with its target, he said, and stressed the need for more intervention after the lands are distributed to ARBs.
In Aquino’s State of the Nation Address last July 23, he committed that the CARP program will be finished before his term ends in 2016.
DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, meanwhile, said in a press release that it is possible to finish distributing most of the CARP-covered lands with areas above 10 hectares by June 2014, which is the legislated deadline of the land acquisition and distribution program of CARP.
To address this, the DAR committed to issue all notices of coverage to landowners by 2013, the press release also said.
However, it is highly probable that there will be landholdings in the pipeline for acquisition but whose distribution will not be completed by June 30, 2014, like those with legal cases and some of the small landholdings whose acquisition cannot be started before July 2013 because of the CARPER law mandated phasing, Delos Reyes said in the press release.*JG
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