Lacson Seeks Probe into Inclusion of Exempted Lands in Land Reform Program

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson has sought an investigation into allegations that several parcels of land exempted from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program are still subjected to coverage and titled to the Republic. 

In Senate Resolution 936, Lacson sought an investigation by the Senate Committee on Agrarian Reform into the procedure used by the Department of Agrarian Reform to acquire and distribute lands for the CARP.

“It appears that unscrupulous individuals with spurious documents were able to title lands belonging to private individuals with the cooperation of some officials of DAR and the Register of Deeds despite failure to conform with the procedures mandated by law,” he said.

He added there is a need to look into this matter “to prevent the DAR from short-circuiting the process to the detriment of the owners of lands,” and to the prejudice of farmer beneficiaries whose ownership of the land will be disputed.

Lacson pointed out the agrarian reform program is founded on the right of landless farmers and farm workers to own directly or collectively the lands they till or to receive a share of the harvest thereof.

“However, its implementation is being marred with numerous problems resulting in a slow pace of the distribution of the lands to the farmer beneficiaries,” he noted.

Also, Lacson cited reports that some private lands were titled to the Republic of the Philippines and transferred to CARP beneficiaries without following procedures.

He cited one case where 211,500 square meters of private land in Sibulan town in Negros Oriental was titled to the Republic of the Philippines under TCT No. T-35306 and subsequently transferred to several persons under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 702.

This was despite the fact that the registered owners were not notified of the hearings undertaken by the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO).

Neither were they furnished copies of the Investigative Report of said MARO regarding the said property, Lacson said.

“It also appeared that DAR overlooked the fact that said property lies within a geothermal reservation per Proclamation No. 1413 issued by President Marcos and sustained by Executive Order No. 223 of President Corazon Aquino which exempts it from the coverage of CARL,” he said.

Because of this, he said the private owners of the land were deprived of their ownership and possession of their property through a “surreptitious and highly questionable proceeding” undertaken by the DAR’s Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer.