MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has identified government owned-lands (GOLs) that can be used not only for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) but also for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program, Mega Farms and Food Security.

DAR Secretary John Castriciones, through Undersecretary for Field Operations Office David Erro, presented the lists of GOLs via videoconference meeting with the various government agencies, to update them on Executive Order 75, series of 2019, signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, which was originally intended for CARP coverage, and has now been expanded in relation to the implementation of BP2 program, Mega Farms and Food Security.

BP2 is a government program encouraging people from the congested urban areas like Metro Manila to return to their home provinces with the assurance of government assistance for their transition, in terms of support and incentives on transportation, family, livelihood, housing, subsistence and education, among others.

Castriciones discussed the significance of the GOLs in empowering the enrollees of BP2 and its role in addressing food security in the country.

“Thousands of urban-dwellers have manifested their willingness to go back to their provinces and the DAR’s role in this noble program is to provide them with lands to cultivate and give them necessary support services. To realize this, DAR is pushing for the expansion of Executive Order No. 75,” Castriciones said.

He said under the implementing rules and regulations of EO 75, all government agencies are instructed that it “shall govern the identification, validation, segregation, transfer and distribution of all GOLs, devoted to or suitable for agriculture and which are no longer actually, directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired for the purpose of eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries.”

As of May 31, 2020, the inventory of GOLs pursuant to EO 75 registered a total gross area of 217,120.98 hectares.

Castriciones said with expansion of possible beneficiaries for EO 75, distribution of GOLs are now not limited to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) but also to returning urban dwellers.

The DAR would also accept other qualified enrollees specially the rebel-returnees and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that were displaced from their work because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic crisis.

“We are asking other government agencies for the immediate execution of the ‘Deed of Transfer’ so that we can fast-track the distribution of individual titles to ARBs and to encourage them to organize and facilitate their development,” Castriciones said.

Erro, for his part, emphasized though that GOLs that have been identified and inventoried will still have to go through the process of proper identification, validation, segregation, possible transfer and distribution to identified beneficiaries.

He also explained the concept of “Mega Farms” to attain food self-sufficiency/security for the country and an increased and steady income for the farmers.

“The ARBs with individual titles shall form into organizations for the establishment of Mega Farms, consisting of at least 50 hectares in area with an integration of values of land tenurial security, farmer entrepreneurship, support services, modern technology practices including establishments of processing plants and local and foreign investors participation,” Erro said.

Erro added that absorption of qualified enrollees under the BP2 through the provision of livelihood opportunities in the Mega Farms may pave the way for new urban centers in the periphery and rural development at its center.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana said he supports the DAR in its endeavor as long as the enrollees of the BP2 would receive the necessary assistance they need for them to become productive individuals. (DAR-PR)