DAR receives positive feedback on proposed budget increase
Things are looking up for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) proposed increase in their 2020 budget after budget after Secretary John R. Castriciones explained expansive role in promoting social justice and spurring rural development during the House committee hearing.
DAR is proposing a three percent increase on their budget, bringing it up to P8.426 billion from the previous year’s amount of P8.202 billion
Castriciones justified the proposed budget by citing Executive Order No. 75, which “places under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) all idle government-owned agricultural lands.”
DAR Undersecretaries Luis Meinrado Pangulayan of the Legal Affairs Office, Lucius “Junjun” Malsi of the Finance Management and Administration Office, Emily Padilla of the Support Services Office, and Bernie Cruz of the Foreign Assisted Special Project Office ably supported Secretary Castriciones as they took turns in convincing the lawmakers about the many programs lined up for next year.
Castriciones said that from 1972 to June this year, around 4.8 million hectares of agricultural lands, 2.7 million hectares of which are privately owned, have already been distributed to some 2.87 million agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Still up for distribution are 544,327 hectares, 504,362 hectares of which or 92.66% are privately owned lands, he said, a seemingly herculean task due to the strong resistance from landowners.
Castriciones said the DAR is confident that it could carry out President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s marching order of finishing the land acquisition and distribution on or before the end of his term in 2022.
Castriciones said efforts are also intensified to deliver timely support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries to ensure that the farmlands awarded to them would be harnessed to their maximum potential and make the rural communities “vibrant and self-reliant.”
The DAR chief also vowed to fill up all vacant positions in the Department before the end of the year “to give all our staff the motivation to give their best” in serving all stakeholders of the government’s land reform program.