Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Declaration of Principles and Policies Essay

Some of us here in Congress may have heard of the cancellation of CLOAs in Hacienda Looc, Batangas, Sumilao, Bukidnon and Hacienda Maria, Agusan del Sur. These are only some of the 2,555 cases involving cancellation of EPs and CLOAs which covers 29,682 hectares of land. To be specific, the case of Hacienda Maria in Agusan del Sur involves ninety-four (94) farmers that were already in possession of the land with titles issued more than ten years ago. These titles are now facing cancellation, apparently on the ground that the former Ministry of Agrarian Reform has erroneously covered that piece of land under Presidential Decree No. 27. One of the grounds for cancellation under DAR Administrative Order No. 2, series of 1994 is when â€Å"the land is found to be exempted/excluded from P.D. No. 27/E.O. No. 266 or CARP coverage or to be part of the landowner’s retained areas as determined by the Secretary or his authorized representative.† Or the lands voluntarily offered under section 19 of Republic Act No. 6657 but which are found to be outside the coverage of CARP. While the grounds for cancellation of EPs and CLOAs under DAR AO No. 2, series of 1994 are generally valid, setting a prescriptive period for the cancellation of EPs and CLOAs is in order. Truly, it is the height of callousness to cancel EPs or CLOAs of farmer beneficiaries who have been, for years, diligently amortizing payments to their lands. With regard to DAR AO No. 3, series of 1996, it would also be unjust that farmer beneficiaries be made to suffer in a fault they did not have any part of. In awarding parcels of land to farmer beneficiaries, it is the DAR that negotiates with the landowners and farmer beneficiaries. The latter two parties do not have direct negotiation with each other except if the land will be under the direct payment scheme. In addition, it is the government and not the farmer beneficiaries that determines which lands would be c overed by land reform. The farmer’s participation only starts after the DAR has finished negotiations with the landowners and EPs or CLOAs are awarded to them. As such, the farmer beneficiaries should be regarded as â€Å"innocent purchasers for value.† This bill has six objectives. First, this legislation reaffirms that EPs and CLOAs are land titles under Presidential Decree No. 1529; second, it provides for prescriptive periods for the filing of petitions for the cancellation of EPs and CLOAs; third, it provides for compensation to landowners, whose lands were erroneously covered by land reform programs; fourth, it ensures that the farmer beneficiaries do not bear the consequences of the DAR’s errors in distributing lands that should have been exempted from coverage of our agrarian laws; Fifth, this legislation limits the effect of the Department of Justice Opinion No. 44, series of 1990 that excludes lands that have been reclassified or even without the concurrence of the Department of Agrarian Reform. The DOJ Opinion, though not a law, has been continuously cited as a ground for cancellation of EPs and CLOAs. Finally, it prevents the cancellation of EPs and CLOAs through the enactment of laws that further exempt lands from the coverage of agrarian reform laws. An example of this is the cancellation of EPs and CLOAs on the ground that the landowners were not paid just compensation. Truly, farmer beneficiaries should not be deprived of the lands awarded to them if the government is unable to fulfill its duties under the laws. Passage of this bill is, earnestly sought.

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