MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is hoping its proposed budget for 2022 for its land titling project will be restored during the bicameral committee deliberation of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday, DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz appealed to the House members to heed the call of the senators pushing for the restoration of the Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) Project to its original amount.
“Ako ay nagmamakaawa, kinausap ko na rin actually yung ating mga kaibigan sa Kongreso, siguro naman pagdating ng bicam sana wala ng tumutol sana masuportahan ‘tong project na ito dahil ito ay para sa mga maliliit nating magsasaka (I’m appealing to them. I actually talked already with some of our friends in Congress, I hope during the bicam, nobody will object, and support instead this project because this is for our small farmers),” Cruz said.
He also thanked the senators who called for the restoration of the PHP2.6 billion fund for DAR's land titling project slashed at the House of Representatives.
“Gusto kong magpasalamat sa lahat ng senators na nagbigay ng support, buti na lang at naiintindihan nila na kailangang kailangan ng mga farmers yung project (I want to thank the senators who expressed support, it’s good that they understand that our farmers need this project),” he said.
Cruz said many farmers will be affected if the budget for land titling project gets completely discarded.
He added that most farmers have been waiting and hoping to receive their own title for the land that they till.
“Yung title ay napakahalaga sa mga farmers natin parang nakakapgbigay ito ng dignity at encouragement na idevelop yung lupa na yun kasi kanila na, kaya suportado ito ni President Duterte dahil ang gusto niya yung maliliit nating magsasaka magkaroon ng sarili nilang lupa, titled sa kanila (The land title is very important for our farmers as this can restore their dignity and encourage them to develop the land because it is already theirs, that is why President Duterte supports this project because he wants our small farmers to have their own land that is titled),” Cruz said.
Senator Cynthia Villar, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, who defended the 2022 DAR budget in a virtual session on Monday said the SPLIT project seeks to give agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) covered under collective certificates of land ownership award (CCLOA), the chance to identify and own individually their respective shares of farm lots.
Villar said the SPLIT project will cover 1.368 million hectares that would benefit a total of 1.14 million farmers.
She said by the end of 2023, the goal is for all agrarian reform beneficiaries to have their individual certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs).
The DAR’s PHP12.3-billion proposed budget was increased by 29 percent from the original PHP8 billion.
SPLIT had been allocated about PHP4.5 billion for the titling of 600,000 hectares in 2022, and 708,000 hectares in 2023.
Aside from Villar, among the senators who expressed support for the restoration of slashed DAR funds are Senators Panfilo Lacson and Imee Marcos.
The proposed 2022 DAR budget will be allotted to various program components of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, such as land tenure services, agrarian justice delivery, agrarian reform beneficiaries development services, operations, and the rest will be allotted to general administration and support to operations. (PNA)