The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will give for free land owned by the government to landless Filipinos who will venture into agriculture on their return to the provinces.

DAR Undersecretary Emily Padilla said the move is in support of the government’s Balik Probinsya program.

DAR Secretary John Castriciones recently led the distribution of food packs, vitamins and medicines to agrarian reform beneficiaries and organizations in Cabaldon and Palayan City in Nueva Ecija.

“We have huge areas of farmland for distribution to landless Filipinos.”

Castriciones, who was also joined by DAR Undersecretary Virginia Orogo and provincial agrarian officials here, said they have huge areas of farmland for distribution to landless Filipinos.

The processing, the agrarian reform chief said, has been stalled since agency personnel, particularly surveyors, cannot do field work because of quarantine rules as the country battles the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Pagkatapos po na magkaroon tayo ng relaxation ng quarantine protocols natin, pwede na naman ulit lumarga yung mga tao, pumunta sa iba’t ibang lugar, ipagpapatuloy na natin yung pagsa-survey ng mga lupa (Once we have relaxation on quarantine protocols, our personnel can go to the different place to continue the surveying of the lands),” the agrarian reform head added.

At present, he said DAR has 420,000 privately acquired lands and about 150,000 government-owned lands for distribution to beneficiaries.

Privately-acquired lands are to be paid by the recipients to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), while government-owned lands are free.

“Dahil ito po ay government-owned, libre po ito. At ito po ay ikinakabit namin sa programa ng gobyerno na Balik Probinsya kung saan yung mga urban dwellers, mga kababayan nating Filipino na nanduon sa syudad kung gusto nilang bumalik sa probinsya, isa po sa maitutulong na ayuda ng DAR ay magbigay po ng kapirasong lupa (Because this is a government-owned, it is free. We are attaching this to the government’s program Balik Probinsya wherein the urban dwellers, our countrymen who are in the cities and want to go back to the provinces, one of the assistance of DAR is to give them (a) piece of land), ” Castriciones said.

“The program is also open for returning OFWs.”

The program, he added, is also open for repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Castriciones further said Orogo and Padilla have waged a housing program called Balai Magsasaka, a “revolutionized” settlement program for Filipino farmers. 

Palayan City Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas expressed hope that problems on land ownership can be all resolved before she steps down as local chief executive.

Meanwhile, Castriciones said the DAR has re-aligned some P300 million from its different programs to extend support to individual farmers and organizations of agrarian reform beneficiaries. 

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