DAR-Bicol settles 728 land disputes from January-June

By Connie Calipay


Some 728 land disputes in Bicol region were amicably settled in the first half of the year, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reported on recently.


Gerard Buensalida, DAR Bicol spokesperson, said the land disputes were resolved through mediation, free legal consultations, and counseling.


“For 2022, we are forecasting at least 1,040 cases. We are calling it forecast since we don’t control the number of cases that may be filed from the six provinces in the region. Our legal division already accomplished 70 percent of the forecast,” Buensalida said.


He noted that every year, they are able to surpass 100 percent of the resolution of cases.


“Our legal division can resolve land problem cases such as boundary disputes, tenurial arrangements, and tenancy,” he said.


Buensalida added that recently, the DAR legal division, with support from the municipal agrarian reform office of Caramoan-Garchitorena, was able to resolve cases through mobile mediation -- a strategy established by the legal division of DAR-Camarines Sur II with the assistance of municipal offices.


Under the scheme, they identify barangays in coastal areas with the most problematic agrarian reform-related cases and set up a schedule to bring farmers together to settle disputes and negotiate contracts.


Lawyer Ramon SG. Cabañes Jr., DAR-Camarines Sur legal chief, in a statement said this year’s resolution of land cases has vastly improved, with an evaluative approach used to assist disputing parties in evaluating the legal merits of their arguments, resulting in fair rulings that ultimately benefit all parties.


“With this, each mobile mediation will serve as an avenue for the legal officers to utilize their mediation skills and apply negotiation techniques in addressing the legal issues and concerns of disputing parties about DAR Memorandum No. 12-09, also known as the DAR Manual on Legal Assistance. It will likewise ensure accomplishment of the division’s physical and financial targets for the year,” he said.


Cabañes said for the past five years, the DAR has put primordial consideration to bringing agrarian justice delivery closer to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) through legal clinics and marathon mediations, where farmer-beneficiaries and legal officers gather at a common venue to discuss agrarian legal matters.


“These activities are aggressive efforts to resolve agrarian reform disputes at the lowest possible level,” he said.


In a statement, Camarines Sur II Agrarian Reform chief Renato Bequillo, said 30 farmers, tenants, tillers, and farm workers showed up at the DAR Municipal Office in Caramoan for the scheduled mediation proceedings, and about 35 more came to get their legal problems resolved.


“Our legal division devised and applied mobile mediation as a means of conflict resolution and prevention, intended especially for farmer-beneficiaries living in remote barangays,” Bequillo said.


Bequillo said mediation between ARBs is a structured, interactive process that DAR uses to help warring parties work out their differences over the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-awarded land or arrangements for farming land.


The DAR-Camarines Sur II plans to hold another mobile mediation in Siruma town in August and Garchitorena before the year ends. (PNA)