As President Rodrigo Duterte has envisioned, the indigenous people (IPs) of Boracay Island will soon have their share of agricultural land in the temporarily closed top tourist spot, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said on Monday.
“We expect distributing land to the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) this year,” he said in a press conference in Metro Manila.
Castriciones said the agrarian reform process in Boracay had started rolling, including the screening of qualified IPs.
The screening, he said, is set to be completed this year.
He said the first to be distributed are the patches of agricultural land with no existing structures.
These areas, measuring a total of close to 26 hectares, are for immediate agrarian reform coverage, Castriciones said.
These areas are part of the 628.96 hectares of land classified as agricultural by Presidential Proclamation 1064 series of 2006.
Boracay’s IPs are the government’s priority beneficiaries of such land distribution, so they can own and cultivate land for their food and livelihood, Castriciones stressed.
“Farmers are the hope and true heroes of our country, as they provide food and help strengthen our economy,” he said, explaining why the government aggressively pursues agrarian reform.
According to DAR, the patches of agricultural land for distribution to qualified IPs in Boracay are in the villages of Yapak (14.66 hectares), Balabag (1.01 hectares), and Manoc-manoc (10.10 hectares).
The soil in these areas is suitable for growing crops, DAR Undersecretary David Erro said earlier.
Erro said some 80 Atis in the island have been identified as potential ARBs.
The primary ARB selection criteria under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 are that candidates must be least 15 years old, willing to cultivate land, and are landless, he said.
DAR is celebrating this week the 30th year of the law and its offshoot, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“Agrarian reform means redistribution of lands, regardless of crops or fruits produced, to farmers and regular farm workers who are landless, irrespective of tenurial arrangement, to include the totality of factors and support services designed to lift the economic status of the beneficiaries and all other arrangements alternative to the physical redistribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration, and the distribution of shares of stocks, which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work,” the Republic Act 6657 states.
CARP is a government initiative of granting agricultural land ownership to landless farmers and farm workers nationwide.
As of December 2017, DAR has reported distributing a total of 4.86 million hectares of land nationwide, benefitting 2.84 million ARBs.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go lauded DAR for its agrarian reform gains over the years.
“We’ve come a long way and made big progress in implementing agrarian reform,” Go said at the start of DAR’s celebration of CARP anniversary.
He also urged DAR to further pursue agrarian reform, noting much work remains to be done to help farmers and farm workers nationwide break free from poverty.
“Several studies reveal access to land plays an important role in uplifting people’s lives,” he said. PNA