MANILA The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) formed an inter-agency task force to streamline the process for land use conversion after getting the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte due to the slow pace of operations.
The task force includes the participation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Agriculture, DAR, and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.
Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Pangulayan, in a press briefing Wednesday, said these agencies are now individually moving to strengthen the process implemented in their offices, reduce the papers required for the application, merge redundant procedures, allot specific timelines for each step, and incorporate the use of technology.
The task force will meet from Thursday to Monday to examine the preliminary considerations for the memorandum.
On February 19, the Cabinet Assistance Service will hear their initial reports on the matter to prepare for its submission in March.
At the sidelines of the briefing, Pangulayan clarified that the current executive order is an initiative to ensure ease of doing business.
The directive of the President is to process everything that's applied for in the government. That we need to act accordingly and do it with a reasonable time so people will feel the services of the government, he said.
Earlier, former DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, who failed to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments in September 2017, criticized the administration's eagerness to fast-track agricultural land conversion to industrial use.
The President has been vocal to expedite this process knowing that the farmers become more and more penniless waiting for the approval of their application.
"This is not really something to dwell lengthily, [but] the system itself is designed to experience a failed government. Two years includes corruption, pabalik-balik 'yung tao [The person had to keep coming back]. And there's no end to it, the bleeding of the pocket of the guy and the Not only the office's reputation [is at stake] but the whole government suffers for it too" the President said earlier.
Since 1972, DAR has only approved 99,000 hectares for conversion out of the total 4.8 million hectares of agricultural land owned by the government and were given to beneficiary farmers.
DAR data showed there are currently 73 pending applications for land conversion since 2011.
Of this number, 26 were recorded in 2017, the year with the highest number of applications.
The surge in the number of applications in the same year was attributed to the lifting of moratoriums.
Before its approval, the application shall also meet with certain conditions serving as the statutory basis of the conversion process.
After the lapse of five years from its award, it must be proven that the land ceases to be economically feasible and sound for agricultural purposes, or the locality has become urbanized and the land will have a greater economic value for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.
"The priority is the give land to farmers without land," Pangulayan said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency