Freedom from landlessness, not taking up arms against the government, remains the solution to poverty, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John R. Castriciones said.
Castriciones delivered the message as he personally handed out certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) to Agusan del Sur farmers in Barangay Concepcion in Santa Josefa town, where a total of 1,024 hectares of agricultural lands were given to 770 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs).
“We are free now. We already own our land,” Castriciones told the new landowners and DAR beneficiaries, as he echoed the respect of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to the farmers as the “heroes of the country”.
“Don’t believe in insinuations by groups that will force you to take up arms and fight the government. The only way for farmers to uplift their socio-economic lives is to own the land they till and provide support services for their development,” the DAR secretary said.
Aside from land distribution, Castriciones said DAR is also providing support services to its ARBs in the form of infrastructure support and livelihood projects.
Castriciones also led the turn-over of the 4.1 km farm-to-market road in Barangay Conception amounting to PHP24.8 million, which will directly benefit some 805 ARBs in the area.
He also told the farmers of DAR’s continuing program to distribute more lands to landless farmers in the country, saying idle government lands that are no longer utilized for their purposes will be validated and processed for distribution to landless farmers.
He said Presidente Duterte also approved the measure through Executive Order No. 75 issued in February.
Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer Alex Trazo, the operations chief of DAR in Agusan Sur, told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday that in Agusan del Sur alone, around 6,000 hectares of idle government lands are set to be distributed to farmers in the area.
Trazo said the tracts of lands, which are suitable for agricultural development, are situated in the towns of Esperanza, Bunawan and San Luis. Validation for these lands is ongoing and the process is expected to be completed this year, he added. (PNA)