Protesters seek audit of land reform data
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines— Newly released government statistics that reported the distribution of 4.6 million hectares to more than 2.6 million farmers have been questioned by a farmers’ group, which demanded an audit of the supposed accomplishments.
Trinidad Domingo, spokesperson of the Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (Sara) and a farmer-leader in Nueva Ecija province, referred to the Agricultural Indicators Systems (AIS) by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In a statement on Tuesday, Domingo said the data showed that the cumulative accomplishment of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) from 1972 to 2013 was 4.6 million ha that benefited 2,698,182 farmers “who eventually became owners of the land they were cultivating.”
Domingo, chair of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, asked: “What percent of the accomplishment is distributed but uninstalled? Registered but not distributed? Distributed but with no support services? Distributed but reversed?”
She cited the Voluntary Land Transfer/Direct Payment Scheme (VLT/DPS) that landowners used to choose their own beneficiaries so they can consolidate the lands later.
The AIS reported that 826,947 ha were distributed through VLT/DPS that accounted for 18 percent of total land distribution.
Domingo said AIS figures did not include the deductions of 1 million ha given out in 1998. CARP’s target that year, she said, was 10 million ha. These, she said, were lowered to 8 million ha.
“Now, according to the AIS study, it’s only 5.43 million ha. Where are the remaining 5 million [ha] from the original target?” Domingo said.
She said the AIS figures differ from data of the Land Registration Authority showing a supposed deficit of 62,981 ha in the actual land distribution of the Aquino administration.
Anthony Parungao, agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs, said the DAR has cleansed its database after reviewing every claim folder in all DAR offices and upon the implementation of the agency’s web-based monitoring system.
“We have now shifted our attention to residual tasks and second-generation problems, and are therefore now evaluating past LAD (land acquisition and distribution) accomplishments nationwide,” he said in an e-mail to the Inquirer on Tuesday.
He said DAR is validating collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) and voluntary land transfers. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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