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190 farmers get lands from DAR

By Connie Calipay

The Department of Agrarian Reform in Bicol (DAR) will distribute 303 hectares of an estate in Masbate province to 190 qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) that include three former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In an interview on Thursday, Gerald Buensalida, DAR-5 spokesperson, said the land is a portion of the 1,372-hectare landholding formerly owned by Luis A. Yulo in Barangay Matagbac in Milagros town, of which 1,069 hectares were already distributed to 357 ARBs in 1993.

“The subject property was once classified as an agrarian revolutionary area for many years. Despite the local rebellion, Task Force Yulo of DAR and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were able to successfully acquire and develop the land,” Buensalida said.

He added that a former NPA rebel named “Bambam”, who surrendered and made peace with the government under the rebel returnee program, is one of the beneficiaries of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, assuring him a 1.8-hectare land.

“Three out of the 190 qualified ARBs were former rebels based on the report of the AFP,” he said.

Buensalida, quoting Bambam, said “After recognizing the futility of war and fighting, which deprived me of valuable quality time with my family throughout the years, and with the government-promised livelihood opportunities and farmland, which I continue to enjoy to this day, I decided to go back to the fold of the law to start a new life.”

Bambam joined the rebel movement in Masbate when he was 19 years old and served the Militia ng Bayan wing of the NPA for about 17 years. He surrendered in October 2021.

President Rodrigo Duterte directed DAR to distribute agricultural lands to farmers living in areas with armed conflicts and rebel returnees.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Herald Tambal said in a statement that issues in the coverage of the landholding were resolved, including the delays in the conduct of the subdivision surveys due to the anti-reform resistance by local rebels.

“The task of distributing the estate to qualified ARBs is inching towards realization, with the completion of the identification of the landholdings for distribution, perimeter surveying, and submission of the survey plans for approval by the task force,” Tambal said.

The 190 ARBs recently took their oath accepting the obligations of CARP beneficiaries before Judge Rolando G. Sandigan of Masbate City, followed by the signing of the application to purchase and farmer’s undertaking. (PNA)

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