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DAR to distribute Luisita land titles

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Hacienda Luisita workers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Friday it will finally begin distributing land titles to more than 6,000 farm workers of Hacienda Luisita, the huge sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, beginning Monday through the middle of October.

The DAR will be distributing certified copies of their certificates of land ownership award, or CLOAs, to qualified farm workers from Sept. 30 to Oct. 18, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said in a news release.

As of Sept. 25, the CLOAs of about 5,800 qualified beneficiaries have been filed with the Register of Deeds.

About 296 beneficiaries have yet to claim their lot allocation certificates (LACs), while 377 others have yet to sign and file their application to purchase and farmer’s undertaking (APFU).

Parungao said the DAR continues to seek out the beneficiaries who have yet to claim their LACs or file their APFUs, two of the steps they need to take in order to become full-fledged land owners.

He noted that a good number of the beneficiaries are either working abroad or living outside Tarlac, and have thus been unable to claim their LACs or sign and file their APFUs.

“Their CLOAs will be generated and registered as soon as they have signed their APFUs,” Parungao said.

“We have taken the initiative of searching for these beneficiaries to see how we can help them claim their lots,” Parungao said. “Our field facilitators are out there seeking them out so they can assist them.”

Beneficiaries are set to get 6,600 square meters each, payable in 30 years at a cost of P60,000 to P70,000 yearly, Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes earlier said.

Under the law, the agrarian reform beneficiaries will have to pay amortizations for their land awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for 30 years.

A duplicate copy of the owners’ CLOAs will be held by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

But the certified true copies of the CLOAs to be distributed beginning Sept. 30, nevertheless, constitute proof of ownership of their CARP-awarded farmlands, Parungao said.

Some 6,212 farm workers have been identified by the DAR as qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita.

The distribution of CLOAs will begin in Barangay Pando on Sept. 30, to be followed by Barangay Motrico on Oct. 1, and Barangay Lourdes the following day.

Distribution resumes on Oct. 8 at Parang, then Mabilog (Oct. 9) and Bantog (Oct. 10). The following week, DAR will distribute CLOAs in the four remaining barangays: Cutcut (Oct. 15), Asturias (Oct. 16), Balete (Oct. 17) and Mapalacsiao (Oct. 18).

“After the CLOA distribution, what remains to be done is the delineation of the boundaries of the farm lots on the ground by setting up monuments or boundary stones,” Parungao added.

In 1988, when the CARP took effect, the owners of Hacienda Luisita gave the farmers an option to own shares of stock under a controversial stock distribution option in the agrarian reform law.

After a prolonged court battle, in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the stock distribution option of Hacienda Luisita.

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