NEW LANDOWNERS. Several farmers of the 184 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) raise their certificates of land ownership awards after the Department of Agrarian Reform awarded them on Feb. 25, 2023 the unused government lands in Carmen town, North Cotabato province. At least 195.9 hectares of land were distributed to the ARBs. (Photos courtesy of DAR-North Cotabato)

COTABATO CITY – At least 184 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) are now legal owners of the land they are tilling in Carmen town, North Cotabato province, after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) handed them titles over the weekend, an official reported Monday.

In a statement, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Evangeline Bueno said certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were handed over Saturday to the ARBs covering 195.9 hectares of government-owned lands (GOLs) in the municipality.

These areas were unutilized lots of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry in Soccsksargen (BPI-12) Aroman Research and Experiment Station situated in Barangay Aroman.

"These lands that were given to the beneficiaries were portions of the GOLs that were not used to its intended purpose in compliance with Executive Order No. 75 signed by then President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019,” she said.

North Cotabato 3rd District Representative Ma. Alana Samantha Taliño Santos, who was present during the awarding of CLOAs, urged the ARBs to never sell nor lease their lands, but instead make these productive.

"The value of our land increases over time if we cultivate it with sweat and hard work. We just have to work together and do better for our municipality and our province," she said.

An octogenarian beneficiary, Fulgencio Gepiala, of Barangay Aroman, expressed his gratitude to the government for the land he now owns.

“I'm happy and thankful to the government for giving me a piece of land, a portion of the PCA, where we could have an additional source of livelihood," Gepiala said.

He said he remains determined to cultivate the land and make it productive for his children and grandchildren. (PNA)