By Marita Moaje

DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III (File photo)

MANILA – A total of 1,171 hectares of agricultural lands in the three provinces in Central Visayas have been subdivided by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project, benefiting at least 1,321 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs)

In a press release issued on Wednesday, DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III said a total of 1,290 land titles were distributed in a simultaneous event in the provinces Bohol, Cebu and Negros Oriental on Tuesday.

He said the lands were previously awarded under the collective certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs).

“Hold on to your land titles and take care of your farmlands because this administration will pour out various support services in your community to boost your livelihood activities,” Estrella told the farmer-beneficiaries.

In Bohol, around 501 ARBs received 602 land titles covering 544 hectares.

Of these land titles, 483 are electronic-titles (e-titles) generated under the SPLIT project, comprising 471.15 hectares distributed to 402 ARBs.

The remaining 72.89 hectares were provided with 119 CLOAs to 99 farmers.

In Negros Oriental, the DAR has distributed 480 land titles, covering an aggregate area of 330.63 hectares to 474 ARBs.

Of these total, 175 are e-titles covering 145.73 hectares and distributed to 212 ARBs; 271 are CLOAs covering 164.83 hectares and distributed to 238 ARBs; and 34 are emancipation patents (EPs) covering 20.07 hectares for 24 ARBs.

In Cebu province, some 208 CLOAs covering 296.66 hectares were distributed to 346 ARBs.

Aside from the provision of lands and support services, Estrella said the DAR is also working in tandem with lawmakers for the approval of a proposed measure to make the lands distributed to the ARBs free from amortizations.

In December last year, the House of Repre3sentatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 6336 titled, “An Act emancipating agrarian reform beneficiaries from financial burden by condoning unpaid amortizations and interests and exempting payment of estate tax of agricultural lands awarded under comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP).”

Under the proposed law, to be condoned are “unpaid amortizations, interest payments, surcharges, and penalties of existing loans” of ARBs secured under CARP or other agrarian reform programs or laws.

The balances of unpaid obligations of ARBs to landowners shall be assumed by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Avelino Montes, a 67-year old ARB from Talibon town, Bohol, expressed gratitude to DAR for finally receiving the land titles they were dreaming of for around 30 years.

Umaasa kami na magkakaroon na ang aming pamilya ng magandang kinabukasan dahil sa lupang aming tinanggap at sa pangakong suporta na ibibigay nila sa amin (We are now looking forward to a brighter future for our families because of these lands and the assurance of support that they will give to us),” he said. (PNA)