TACLOBAN CITY – The Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) has endorsed the extension of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
RDC vice chair and National Economic and Development Authority regional director Meylene Rosales said in a phone interview Wednesday the region’s highest policy-making body formally endorsed the extension during its meeting on December 6.
“The RDC saw the need to support the extension as the implementation of the project was hobbled by pandemic-related delays. The extension is seen to help improve the agriculture industry in Eastern Visayas, which has seen declines in recent years,” Rosales said.
Started in 2021, SPLIT is supposed to end in 2024, but with the extension, the program is expected to end by 2027.
Earlier, DAR Eastern Visayas regional director Robert Anthony Yu said aside from pandemic restrictions, the slow absorptive capacity of other partner agencies also affected the pace of the project.
Among its partners are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Land Registration Authority, Registry of Deeds, Land Bank of the Philippines, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and Department of the Interior and Local Government.
During the first two years of the SPLIT implementation, the DAR regional office has covered at least 13,705 hectares of farmlands in Eastern Visayas.
These titles have been received by 4,372 agrarian reform beneficiaries tilling the lands included in the department’s target for individual titling.
Under SPLIT, the DAR seeks to validate and distribute 206,221 hectares of farmlands that were earlier awarded to farmers’ groups through collective certificate of land ownership awards (CCLOAs).
Parcelization is subdividing and determining the exact meters and bounds of the areas covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
It also involves the awarding of lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries in a CCLOA, the determination of common-use areas, portions with common service facilities, and the establishment of areas capable of being alienated and disposed of by the government.
Having individual land titles would also allow farmers to access bank financial services.
The project is funded by the World Bank with a total program cost of P24.62 billion, comprising 78 percent loan proceeds amounting to P19.24 billion and 22 percent of Philippine government counterparts amounting to P5.38 billion.
In Eastern Visayas alone, the funding requirement is more than PHP1 billion.
(SARWELL Q. MENIANO/PNA)