LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform in Bicol (DAR-5) has conducted a validation and cleansing of its database on land acquisition and distribution to evaluate and identify deductible and unworkable landholdings.

Gerard Buensalida, DAR Bicol spokesperson, in an interview on Friday, said the region still has 71,726 hectares of "undistributed" agricultural lands.

Based on record, Camarines Sur has 25,391 hectares; Masbate 19,064 hectares; Sorsogon 11,198 hectares; Albay 9,702 hectares; Camarines Norte 6,298 hectares; and Catanduanes with 72.75 hectares.

Buensalida said the validation was to ensure that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) balance is correct since some of the undistributed agricultural lands are within the forestry area, exempted within the timberland areas, or some are retention rates.

"We want to make sure that the efforts of our workers will not be wasted upon verification of the said lands," he said.

Romulo A. Britanico, DAR Bicol assistant regional director for operations, said the total CARPable balance is likely to decline as the data is thoroughly scrutinized and cleansed of "uncoverable" landholdings under the CARP.

“Initially, we identified 27,933.17 hectares for exclusion from our land acquisition and distribution program. However, this data will be validated or double-checked further to ensure that any discrepancies are corrected," he said.

Britanico added that areas, which have been classified as "problematic" and have not yet been issued a notice of coverage (NOC) under CARP, will be "temporarily" removed from the list and placed in a separate folder until DAR determines a solution to cover them again under CARP.

DAR Bicol Regional Director Rodrigo O. Realubit, in a statement, said they will thoroughly "examine these landholdings for inconsistencies. If our data is inaccurate, there would be misrepresentations of facts."

He said erroneous planning and statistics "can result in ill-informed management decisions that may harm DAR's land distribution operations."

Because these remaining areas are mostly privately-owned and contentious, Realubit said DAR's agrarian reform implementation in the coming years will be very difficult. He said more than 60,307 hectares of the total balance are "problematic" properties, which will delay their coverage under CARP.

So far, the DAR has already distributed a total of 341,518 hectares of agricultural land throughout the Bicol region in the last 49 years, which includes a land transfer program that dated back to 1972 and the CARP implementation in 1988.

Over 198,917 Bicolano farmer-beneficiaries have been benefited from the government's land distribution program. (With a report from Bernadines Carretas/PNA-OJT)