On benefiting under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
(Last of two parts)
Who else may qualify as beneficiaries of agricultural lands from unused government-owned lands acquired by DAR, pursuant to the Comprehensive Agricultural Reform Program (CARP)?
Pursuant to the CARP Law, and in relation to our Constitution, landless war veterans and veterans of military campaigns, their surviving spouses and orphans, retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Integrated National Police, surrenderees, and similar beneficiaries shall be considered in the disposition of these lands.
Sparsely occupied agricultural lands of the public domain may also be surveyed, proclaimed and developed as farm settlements for qualified landless people. The allocation of lands shall be made for ideal family-size farms as determined by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC). Pioneers and other settlers shall be treated equally in every respect.
Uncultivated lands shall be leased to interested and qualified parties, subject, however, to the prior rights of qualified beneficiaries. Persons engaged in the development of capital-intensive, traditional or pioneering crops shall be given priority to the lease. In this regard, the leasing period shall not exceed a total of 50 years and shall be proportionate to the amount of investment and production goals of the lessee, which shall be monitored under a system of evaluation and audit.
Meanwhile, idle, abandoned, foreclosed and sequestered lands shall be planned for distribution as home lots and family-size farm lots to their actual occupants. If the land area would permit, other landless families shall be accommodated in these lands.
While the foregoing shows that lands under the CARP shall be redistributed as much as possible to landless people in particular area, such as a barangay, in their absence, landless residents of the same municipality may still qualify as such beneficiaries in the following order of priority: (a) agricultural lessees and share tenants; (b) regular farmworkers; (c) seasonal farmworkers; (d) other farmworkers; (e) actual tillers or occupants of public lands; (f) their collectives or cooperatives; and (g) others directly working on the land.
Nevertheless, children of owners of public or private agricultural lands, which, among others, should not exceed five hectares, shall be preferred in the redistribution of these lands. Actual tenant-tillers in these landholdings shall not be ejected or removed therefrom.
Likewise, farmers already in place and those not accommodated in the distribution of privately-owned lands will be given preferential rights in the distribution of lands from the public domain.
Beneficiaries under Presidential Decree No. 27 who have culpably sold, disposed of or abandoned their land are disqualified to become beneficiaries under the CARP.
Besides identifying these persons as beneficiaries, the CARP Law mandates that their basic qualification shall be their willingness, aptitude and ability to cultivate and make the land as productive as possible. Thus, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) shall adopt a system of monitoring the record or performance of each beneficiary, so that any beneficiary guilty of negligence or misuse of the land or any support extended to him shall forfeit his right to continue as such beneficiary. Moreover, the DAR shall submit to PARC periodic reports on the performance of the beneficiaries.
Qualified beneficiaries may only own a maximum area of three hectares of agricultural land. Their rights and responsibilities shall commence from the time the DAR awards the lands to them, which awards shall be completed within 180 days from the time the DAR takes actual possession thereof. Ownership of the beneficiary shall be evidenced by a Certificate of Land Ownership Award, which shall contain the restrictions and conditions under the CARP Law, and shall be recorded in the proper Register of Deeds and annotated on the Certificate of Title.
Beneficiaries may opt for collective ownership, such as a co-ownership or farmers’ cooperative. But, the total area that may be awarded shall not exceed the total number of co-owners or members of the cooperative or other collective organization multiplied by the prescribed award limit, except in meritorious cases as determined by the PARC. Title to the property shall be issued in the name of the co-owners, cooperative or collective organization, as the case may be.