The 786 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) wave their certificates of land ownership awards in Coron, northern Palawan. (Photo from DAR)

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Bernie Cruz supervised the distribution of land ownership certificates to 786 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) at the Busuanga Pasture Reserve (BPR), which is located in the said town and Coron.

Sec. Cruz, who distributed the certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) in Coron on Saturday to the ARBs, said the issuance was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte based on Executive Order No. 75, Series of 2019.

“President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte ordered DAR to fast track the distribution of lands, particularly government-owned lands (GOLs), to qualified beneficiaries before he steps down from office,” Cruz said in a statement released by his department.

Cruz urged the recipients not to sell or pawn the lands that had been handed to them, so that their children and future generations may benefit from them as well.

DAR Sec. Bernie Cruz (in red polo shirt) hands a smiling agrarian reform beneficiary his certificate of land ownership award in Coron. (Photo from DAR)

According to regional DAR director Atty. Marvin Bernal, the YKR, or Yulo King Ranch, which is now the Busuanga Pasture Reserve, was established as a pasture reserve by virtue of Proclamation No.1387 issued by then-president Ferdinand Marcos in 1975, with an aggregate area of 40,000 hectares in the municipalities of Coron and Busuanga, Palawan.

“A total of 900-hectares in Lot 699 (Busuanga Cadastre) and portion of YKR and within the Busuanga Pasture Reserve (BPR), a GOL located in the barangays of San Jose and Decalachao, Coron, Palawan will be distributed to 786 ARBs comprising of 473-male and 313-female, including five (5) agricultural graduates and fifty (50) rebel returnees,” he said

Bernal said that around 9,022 hectares had been assessed and found to be alienable and disposable (A&D), making the land CARP-coverable because “it is no longer actually, directly, and exclusively used for the purpose for which it was reserved”.

Rose Ann Gestupa, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in Animal Industry, one of the beneficiaries under E.O 75, expressed gratitude to President Duterte and the DAR.

“I will nurture and make the land awarded by the DAR productive to ensure the country’s food security, especially in Coron,” Gastupa said.

DAR has already distributed 80 hectares of agricultural lands to 102 ARBs, the first tranche of GOLs on January 22, 2021, and 250 hectares out of a total of 427.0611 hectares of Lot 697 of the YKR to 98 ARBs in Busuanga on September 20, 2021.

EO 75 directs all government instrumentalities to identify lands owned by the government devoted or suitable for agricultural purposes for distribution to identified qualified beneficiaries.