TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform in Eastern Visayas (DAR-8) is set to distribute over 2,500 of land titles to individual agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) whose lands are still covered by collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CCLOAs).

DAR-8 regional director Robert Anthony Yu said 2,591 electronically generated titles (E-titles) covering an aggregate area of 3,922 hectares will be distributed to 1,839 agrarian reform beneficiaries next week. DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III will lead the distribution of land titles.

Yu said the distribution of individual land titles to ARBs is made possible through DAR’s Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project. The project, funded by the World Bank, aims to fast track the parcelization of agricultural landholdings that are covered by CCLOA but are not collectively farmed or operated in an integrated manner by the beneficiaries.

The SPLIT project intends to cover around 139,000 CCLOAs involving 1.38 million hectares of landholdings in 77 provinces and 1,252 municipalities all over the country. These landholdings were supposed to be subdivided among around a million ARBs when the titles were issued in the 1990s.

A DAR study published in February 2020 shows that the unsubdivided collective titles for more than 20 years has resulted to issues like boundary conflicts, susceptibility to encroachment by non-beneficiaries, impediments in land amortization payments and second-generation land transfers to heirs of deceased ARBs, among others.

“These issues negatively impact on the ARBs’ ownership of their awarded lands and left them eventually holding insecure and unstable property rights,” the study said.

In Eastern Visayas, Yu further said that 220,473 hectares of agricultural lands situated in different parts of the region covered by 17,496 collective CLOAs are included in the World Bank-funded SPLIT project.

He added that DAR-8 has so far validated about 67,601 hectares with CCLOA, while 3,922 hectares have been issued with E-titles. President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., in one cabinet meeting, ordered DAR to speed up the distribution of lands to potential ARBs. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)