MANILA- Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson of the OPARR (Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery) has directed the regional office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to expedite the appeal of farmers for the release of their certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs). Lacson made the order during a meeting at his office with farmers coming from the towns of Alangalang, Barugo and San Miguel, all in Leyte, at his office in Makati City on October 28. Also present were DAR Regional Director Shiela Enciso and representatives from the Rights Network, a nongovernment organization that is helping the farmers obtained their CLOAS. The farmers, all survivors of supertyphoon Yolanda, are asking CLOAS from the DAR on the ground that aside as a proof of land ownership, that they could not receive housing assistance from various humanitarian groups without the said document.

Enciso, during the meeting, vowed to finish the inventory of the CLOAs stored at the regional office of the Registry of Deeds before the end of the month. The process is necessary for them to really determine who are entitled to receive the CLOAS. After the inventory, the DAR regional chief said, they would also start to determine if the areas identified involved timber lands. The identification process would be finished by next month, Enciso said. “We need deadlines to determine timelines,” Lacson said.

Close to 17,000 farmers from the three Leyte towns are projected to receive CLOAs, Rights Network said. “Rehabilitation efforts for Region VIII farmers seemed to have been blocked by the “dead” CLOAs. The survivors of the super typhoon, mostly from the farming and fishing communities, are still unable to avail of the support services and other programs from government agencies, international and local organizations working in the Region that are needed for survivors’ long term rehabilitation,” it said. Violeta Alberca said that she feel bad that close to a year now, they could not move on with the disaster as they don’t have a home to shield them from the environments. “We are also victims of Yolanda. But because we don’t have a CLOA, various humanitarian groups offering housing projects excludes us,” Alberca, 53 of Barangay Busay, Barugo. Alberca’s house was destroyed during the onslaught of Yolanda. According to her, the CLOA is a “vital document” for her to be given a house provided by various humanitarian groups because it grants them, the beneficiaries, of a house lot of at least 10×20 square meters. (JOEY A. GABIETA)