DAR Secretary Castriciones leads distribution of relief packs to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Photo by Armand M. Galang
PALAYAN CITY –– The Department of Agrarian Reform is set to provide a parcel of farmland to landless individuals who will choose to venture into agriculture under the government’s “Balik Probinsya” program.
This, as Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said Friday his agency “fully supports” the program that seeks to decongest Metro Manila.
Castriciones, along with Undersecretaries Emily Padilla and Virginia Orogo, led the distribution of food packs to hundreds of agrarian reform beneficiaries here and the town of Gabaldon.
He said they still have huge land areas for distribution, noting that the processing has been stalled since agency personnel, particularly surveyors, cannot work on field due to the community quarantine rules imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Pagkatapos po na magkaroon tayo ng relaxation ng quarantine protocols natin, pwede na naman ulit lumarga yung mga tao, pumunta sa iba’t ibang lugar, ipagpapatuloy na natin yung pagsa-survey ng mga lupa,” the official said.
At present, he said DAR has 420,000 privately acquired lands (PAL) and about 150,000 government-owned lands (GOL) for distribution to beneficiaries, noting that are to be paid by recipients to the Land Bank of the Philippines while GOL are free.
“Dahil ito po ay government-owned, libre po ito. At ito po ay ikinakabit namin sa programa ng gobyerno na Balik Probinsya kung saan yung mga urban dwellers, mga kababayan nating Filipino na nanduon sa syudad kung gusto nilang bumalik sa probinsya, isa po sa maitutulong na ayuda ng DAR ay magbigay po ng kapirasong lupa,” he stressed.
The program, he said, is also open for returning overseas Filipino workers.
The secretary cited his subordinates Orogo and Padilla for their initiatives in the housing program called Balai Magsasaka, that “revolutionized” settlement program for Filipino farmers.
Castriciones said DAR has realigned some P300 million from its different programs to extend support to individual farmers and organizations of agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas of this city expressed hope that problems on land ownership can be all resolved before she steps down as local chief executive.
In her third term, Cuevas has been working to settle disputes in agricultural lands within this city, the capital of Nueva Ecija.