THE agrarian reform program in the country will continue to work against conversion of agricultural lands even with the recent signing by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, an official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Saturday.
DAR Undersecretary Luis Pangulayan said the agrarian reform mandate is to monitor arable tracts of land in the country and preventing them from being converted into other purposes other than agriculture.
“Ang pinag-uusapan po natin dito ay mga lupang susceptible to agricultural development. Marami pong challenges diyan, sa ibang banda nandyan iyong mga lupang ancestral domain, ancestral land… nandyan iyong mga forest land, timberland, mineral parks na nasa DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) na bago gamitin through patents. Pero iyong binabanggit nating arable lands na dapat tamnan, tatamnan natin iyan – iyon ang babantayan natin against conversion,” Pangulayan told a media forum in Quezon City.
He said DAR will continue with the agrarian reform program which is mandated under the 1987 Constitution.
“Sa usaping legal po, nandiyan po ang agrarian reform mandate sa Saligang Batas. Hangga’t nandyan po ang ating Article 13 Section 4 na nagsasabi na it’s a policy of the State to make the landless farmer and landless regular farm worker, owners of the land they till, nandyan po ang agrarian reform mandate,” Pangulayan said.
Pangulayan stressed this mandate can be realized through the DAR, which was established sometime in the 1950s.
The DAR official cited that under Republic Act 6657 or an Act Instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Congress will continue to allocate funds to agrarian reform-implementing agencies.
“Hangga’t nandiyan ang agrarian reform mandate sa agrarian justice delivery, land tenure improvement and support services–ito pong mga concerns na ito ang maipagpapatuloy, hindi po kailangang ipatid iyan kahit nabigay na po ang lupa, ang kahuli-hulihang lupa sa ARB (agrarian reform beneficiary),” Pangulayan said.
“Sa tingin ko po, patuloy po ang agrarian reform mandate. Nag-iiba lang po ito ng porma, mag-iiba po ito ng tawag pero in essence, the program implementation is still the same,” he said, adding DAR would ensure to make landless farmers owner of the land, coupled with adequate support services and credit facilities.
“Kahit na matapos na po iyong huling ektarya ng lupa at nabigay na natin under the agrarian reform program, patuloy pa rin po ang proteksyon ng mga lupang iyan dahil sa usapin ng food sufficiency na nakatali sa food security. In the end, national security. Hindi po natin pwedeng ihiwalay iyan, lahat po ng bansa sa buong mundo ay kinikilala po ang connection between food security, human security and national security,” the DAR official added.
Like the goal of the administration of President Marcos, who also serves as Agriculture chief, DAR aims to push for the economic empowerment of farmers through agricultural productivity, profitability and rural development.