Region 8 plays host to the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR’s) Resettlement Policy Framework Pilot Testing. (JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) met on Wednesday, June 5 this year, the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) affected by overlapping land use in Matag-ob, a town some 92 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Leyte.

A focus group discussion with the said ARBs was conducted by Environmental and Social Safeguard (ESS) specialists from Visayas and Mindanao as part of the pilot testing of the Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF).

Rosario Regalado, ESS lead coordinator under DAR’s Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project, explained that this activity is to identify the gaps and challenges encountered in the field through validation and consultation as the SPLIT project progresses.

This is also to better understand and implement the RPF, as we revisit the applicability of this safeguard instrument as required by the World Bank, which provides funding for the implementation of the SPLIT project, Regalado added.

She also shared that Region 8 was chosen pilot area for this activity because of the magnitude of landholdings covered by collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) given under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that are overlapping with timberlands.

Atty. Robert Anthony Yu, DAR Regional Director in Eastern Visayas, disclosed that Lot 981, the subjected landholding in Matag-ob, is covered by a collective CLOA with an area of 111 hectares traversing Barangays Candelaria, Mansalip and Malazarte. It has 58 identified ARBs, said Yu.

On the same occasion, Yu led the team, including World Bank representatives, Mary Ann Botengan and Luisa Martinez, and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) representative, Angelyn Costelo, in the conduct of an ocular inspection of the said landholding believed to have a slope of over 18 percent.

But during the ocular inspection, it was found out that the said landholding has a slope of 14 percent only, which according to Engineer Ma. Dioleta Vilas, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Chief of the Surveys and Mapping Division, can be reclassified to alienable and disposable (A and D).

Regalado said that the presence of officials from partner agencies, local government unit and non-government organization (NGO) during the four-day activity helped them attain the objectives which is very crucial in the implementation of the SPLIT project.

The RPF provides alternative non-monetary compensation to affected ARBs in the implementation of the SPLIT project, such as relocation to another landholding.

SPLIT project subdivides lands covered by collective CLOAs and issue individual electronically-generated land titles to ARBs to improve land tenure security and strengthen property rights over their awarded lots.

Meanwhile, Assistant Regional Director for Operations, Renato Badilla, reported that DAR has already validated 126,423.38 hectares or 61 percent of its 206,436-hectare target in SPLIT project.