TACLOBAN CITY-The Department of Agrarian Reform(DAR)- Leyte office will conduct a validation of certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs) amid complaints that many of the supposed beneficiaries were not qualified under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Renato Badilla said they will go over the list of CLOA holders and validate on the ground if the person on the list is the one actually tilling the land.

Five municipalities in Leyte have been identified where the revalidation will be conducted. The revalidation will be done from September 5 to October 31 in the towns of Alangalang, Barugo, Carigara, Jaro and San Miguel These five municipalities were the same areas that nongovernment organization Katarungan Eastern Visayas has done an initial validation last year. DAR Leyte recently conducted a workshop training on CLOA validation with Katarungan – EV to discuss how then joint revalidation will be done. Badilla said if the target deadline is met, they will be able to do a mass distribution of CLOA to rightful agrarian reform beneficiaries during the third anniversary of supertyphoon “Yolanda” on November 8.

Don Daganasol, president of Katarungan-EV, said their initial validation shows very few of the CLOA holders are actually tilling the land. He said some of the CLOA holders were not actually farmers but professionals including some lawyers and even employees of DAR. Daganasol said some of the CLOA holders appear to be tenants of the land awarded to them where the former owner continues to claim ownership to the land. “The farmers do not seem to know that as CLOA holders they are already the real owners of the land, not a tenant or caretaker,” he said. Records from DAR show 2,461 CLOAs have already been released to DARPO covering 3,004 hectares of land from the five municipalities, but only 1,397 of these covering 1,739 have been transmitted to the DAR municipal offices.

Of these CLOAs issued, only 47 of them have been received by agrarian reform beneficiaries covering only 22 hectares. There are still 1,087 CLOA on the hands of municipal agrarian reform officers yet to be distributed to ARBs. “In the previous years that some CLOA are registered on records but the physical copy have not yet been released to the farmers,” admits Badilla. Since last year, DAR- Leyte has been working closely with the Registry of Deeds for the release of CLOA to farmer beneficiaries.