Agragrian Reform Secretary John Castriciones on Monday threatened to file criminal, civil, and administrative charges against 13 officials and personnel for their failure to distribute farm lots to farmer-beneficiaries covering 2,007 certificates of land ownership (CLOAs) in Cebu.
At a virtual media conference, Castriciones said he was taken aback upon finding out there were undistributed CLOAs since 1987 after a series of investigations.
“I gave the instruction to conduct an audit of CLOAs submitted by the regional directors last week and yesterday (Sunday),” he told reporters.
“We found out that these CLOAs have been in storage for several years now, depriving agrarian reform beneficiaries of their opportunity to own a piece of land as mandated by the law,” he said.
“The first thing to do is to intensify the distribution of CLOAs that have not been distributed,” he added.
He said the CLOAs were just stored inside the office of the Land Transfer and Implementation Division at DAR provincial office in Cebu.
DAR sent lawyers from Manila to Cebu to investigate the issue while he ordered the immediate distribution of the land titles that were already cleared.
According to the DAR central office, a task force together with officials from the department’s Bureau of Land Tenure and Improvement met in Cebu City and conducted an initial validation to determine the physical and actual authenticity of the titles.
“The initial validation also helped in knowing the year of registration and the municipalities from where it was documented and generated,” said Undersecretary Elmer Distor, who chairs the task force.
The officials found the CLOAs to be “authentic in nature” based on the security features on the titles and the corresponding serial numbers “as reflected in the record book.”
However, Distor said out of the 2,007 CLOAs, there are 1,585 titles that are still subject to validation due to reasons like retention cases, double titling, actual occupancy by farmers, overlapping of boundaries, conflict of ownership, and other anomalies.
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