December 9, 2022

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Likened to an umbilical cord that gives sustenance to an unborn child, Cordillerans regard their land as a link that defines their ancestry and brings them life.

“We inherited this land, it is really ours which our parents gave to us,” said Carmen Anas of Bayabas, Sablan, Benguet while embracing the bunch of papers awarded by Department of Agrarian Reform Sec. John Castriciones recently in Barangay Alno.

Castriciones led the distribution of 86 Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in Benguet. It was received by only one representative per municipality in compliance with the prohibition on mass gathering.

Of the number, 78 are Original Certificates of Title (OCTs) and 10 are Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) covering 72.33 hectares of land spread out in Bakun, Bokod, Kapangan, Kibungan, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.

Anas said while her land has only a little over 5,000 square meters, they have been holding on to the area which was given by her mother who was born and raised in Sablan.

“This is really ours, it was just titled and we are happy that we have this document because I do not have to go through the rigors of having it documented. This title will protect our land and we can now say that it is ours because we have papers to show proof,” Anas said.

She said while she was not born in Sablan, she returned to the place she inherited from her mother and is currently tilling it for livelihood.

Castriciones said there would have been more CLOAs to be distributed and the event would have been held in Kapangan but the town was locked down due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The distribution of CLOAs covering around 300 hectares in Kapangan was postponed to a later date.

The DAR chief urged the beneficiaries to protect their land, not to sell them as such will be their protection from any pandemic.

“Don’t leave farming because even if life is difficult, the farmer will eat and survive as long as they have plants. It is the farmers who survive in any calamity or pandemic because they have food to serve on the table even if it is just with the fish sauce or the salt placed to season it,” he said, adding the thrust and mandate of the agency is to give land to the people who till them – the farmers.

Castriciones also led the blessing and turnover of the P800,000 worth solar power irrigation system in Sitio Riverside, Barangay Alno that will benefit cut flower farmers.

A total of P4.75M worth of income-generating projects were also turned over to different organizations, cooperatives, and groups whose members are agrarian reform beneficiaries operating in different towns of Benguet.

Two projects benefit farmers from Atok, namely a P2-M capacity building and microfinance project for the Atok Arabica Coffee growers marketing cooperative under the agency’s Linking Small Farmers to the Market project; and a bakery project for the Pasdong Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative worth P580,000 under the agency’s village-level farm focus enterprise development.

Castriciones also led the turnover of the P600,000 worth of alternative livelihood for agrarian reform beneficiaries impacted by climate change in Atok, Tublay, and Tuba; and the P779,939 worth convergence for livelihood assistance for two agrarian reform beneficiaries’ cooperatives in Bokod and Kabayan. – PNA