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Long wait is over for more than 1K ARBs in Central Visayas

July 7 marked a historic and memorable day for more than a thousand farmers in the provinces of Negros Oriental, Cebu, and Bohol. Aside from receiving Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), that day also meant that they now have full ownership over the land they have been tilling for many years after Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. signed the New Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act in Malacanang. 

The new law aims to free farmers from the “bondages of debt” coming from unpaid amortizations, interests, and surcharges on awarded lands. Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) from the three provinces witnessed the signing of the new law via a live feed shown at the Uypitching Multi-Purpose Hall in Valencia, Negros Oriental where the regional mass distribution of CLOA in Central Visayas took place on the same day.

Teodulo Hiyog holds his Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the Department of Agrarian Reform during the Regional Mass CLOA Distribution held July 7, 2023 at Uypitching Multi-Purpose Hall, Valencia, Negros Oriental. At 103 years old, Hiyog is the oldest beneficiary among the batch of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries who received their land titles. He said he has waited for 30 years to have his land titled under his name. Photo: KAT/PIA-7 Negros Oriental

30-year wait

Teodulo Hiyog, a farmer from the municipality of Dauin in Negros Oriental, was among the ARBs who received his CLOA from DAR. At the age of 103, he is the oldest recipient among the batch to receive a land title. 

Hiyog waited for more than 30 years to get his parcel of land titled under his name. With the CLOA now in his hands, this formally makes him the landowner of the 2,447 square meters of land he tills. He farms coconuts, cassava, kamote, candaba varieties of banana, and other crops in his land. 

He intends to share the land with his second-degree grandchildren who are his closest kin. Hiyog’s siblings, wife, and children have earlier passed away and he is the only surviving member of his generation.

He thanked the President and DAR Sec. Conrado Estrella for these developments noting he waited for more than 30 years just to get the parcel of land titled under his name. “Salamat kaayo sa Presidente. Parasa mga apo na lang pod lamang ni (I thank the President for this. This is also for my grandchildren),” Hiyog said.

Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries from Bohol, Cebu, and Negros Oriental hold up their Certificate of Land Ownership Award after the Regional Mass CLOA Distribution held July 7, 2023 at Uypitching Multi-Purpose Hall, Valencia, Negros Oriental. (PIA-7 Negros Oriental/Photo by Maxene Montesa, SU Intern)

SPLIT Project

DAR-7 Regional Director Leomides Villareal said the land titles they distributed were under the Support to Parcelization of Land Individual Titling (SPLIT) Project.  DAR used to distribute collective CLOAs before but it was confounded with issues on  boundaries and actual measurements on individual land areas are they are commonly shared by ARBs.  

This also led to non-payment of real property taxes since CLOA recipients could not identify their exact land area.

“Kaning project na SPLIT gibungkag-bungkag nato nang collective CLOA. Gipakusgan nato ang parcelization mao nang busy kaayo ang DAR sa pagbuak-buak diha na sa pangalan ninyo. Ang inyong gidawat inyo na nang pangalan (We have divided the lots placed under the collective CLOAs through the SPLIT Program. We have intensified our parcelization, which is why DAR is busy splitting lots to individual owners. What you receive today is already placed under your name), Villareal said during the ceremony. 

The DAR-7 official said they chose Negros Oriental as the venue of the regional mass distribution of CLOA since the province has the highest number of ARBs.

DAR distributed land titles to 1,940 ARBs during the event. Of the total, 20 are from Bohol, 205 from Cebu, and the rest are from Negros Oriental.

Salamat PBBM! Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries from Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental expressing their gratitude to Pres. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and DAR Sec. Conrado Estrella III for the distribution of Certificate of Land Ownership Award during the Regional Mass CLOA Distribution held July 7, 2023 at Uypitching Multi-Purpose Hall, Valencia, Negros Oriental. Photo: KAT/PIA-7 Negros Oriental

Fulfilled promise

Samuel Academia, an ARB beneficiary and now landowner from Tamisu, Bais City, Negros Oriental, said the parcel of land that was given to them has a sentimental value for his family. He said they had to ask permission from its owners before they can build any structure on their land.

“Nagpasalamat mi og dako sa atong presidente sa iyang pagtutok sa mga farmer. Karon nia na ang programa sa atong paggobyerno. Ang among kabataan sa panahon na maminyo sila di na maglisod og puyo ug asa sila magtukod og balay. Adlaw, gabie kon asa mi mouli, wala nay moingon pahawa diha kay wala kay labot sa yuta   (We are very thankful to the President for giving attention to the farmers. The government’s program is finally here. When our children get married, they won’t have a problem where to build their house. Finally, no one can tell us to move away because we don’t have a claim over our land),” Academia said.

Meanwhile, Danasan Farmers Association President Junrey Batuon from Danao City, Cebu expressed his happiness as the President fulfilled his promise during his first State of the Nation Address to strengthen the agrarian reform program. He also urged other ARBs to maximize their lands and make it productive.

“Atong isaad kanila na atong palambuon ang atong yuta ug dili nato usik-usikan hangtod masunod niya sa atong mga anak hangtod sa atong mga apo (Let us promise that we will develop our lands and we will not let it go to waste from our level down to our children, and even to our grandchildren),” said Batuon who also waited for 30 years for the CLOA. 

Farmers can now look forward to more interventions from the government to help them increase their agricultural production and improve their livelihood. For now, they are enjoying their moment of victory and the end of a long period of waiting to finally own the lots they have been tilling for a long time. (RAL/PIA-7 Negros Oriental) 

About the Author

Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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