DAR chief in facing CA: Land conversion will continue
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will not impose a moratorium on land conversions, its new head, Secretary John Rualo Castriciones said on Wednesday.
At his confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointment’s committee on agrarian reform, San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora asked the DAR chief if he would pursue the two-year ban being pushed by his predecessor, former Secretary Rafael Mariano.
Zamora said the issue on land conversion was among those raised against Mariano, who eventually got rejected by the CA.
Mariano, the lawmaker said, also wanted to review all land conversions from the time the agrarian law was passed in 1988.
“Knowing these, can I ask you what your views are on land conversion? Are you still implementing the moratorium for two years? Are you thinking of implementing an additional moratorium of more than two years? Are you thinking of going back and reviewing land conversion dating to 1988?” Zamora asked.
Responding to these queries, Castriciones said the law was clear that conversion of lands is allowed.
“And I will abide by the provision of the law because as a member of the executive department, it is mandated upon us to execute the law,” he said.
“Secondly your honor, I believe that the moratorium that has been proposed is not inexistent because that has never been approved.”
Castriciones stressed that conversion, as mandated by law, “must be properly implemented.”
Asked by Senator Grace Poe, chair of the CA panel, if he would then not enforce the moratorium implemented by his predecessor, Castriciones said: “I will not your honor.”
Asked again by Senator Panfilo Lacson if he would conduct a review of all past land conversions, the DAR chief again answered: “I will not.” /jpv
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