TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) admitted that regulating land use conversion in rural areas of Eastern Visayas remains a challenge to the agency with landowners put up structures on farmlands.
DAR Eastern Visayas regional director Robert Anthony Yu reminded local government officials to check if landowners have land use conversion approved by DA before allowing them to build structures in agricultural areas.
“We cannot monitor all developments throughout the region. The problem is less serious in highly urbanized cities and more developed towns since the local government coordinates with DAR. Some towns are more relaxed,” Yu said in a press briefing Monday.
From 2006 to October 2023, the DAR had approved 318 hectares of farmlands in the region’s six provinces for conversion into other uses.
Land use conversion is the act or method of modifying the current physical use of a parcel of agricultural land for either a non-agricultural purpose or the same agricultural use but other than soil cultivation, as well as growing of crops and trees as approved by DAR.
Under the law, only DAR has an exclusive authority to approve or disapprove applications for conversion of agricultural lands for residential, commercial, industrial, and other land uses.
The DAR regional head is authorized to sign land use conversion for five hectares and below. Beyond five hectares, a landowners should get an authority from the DAR secretary.
Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law regulates the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses to preserve prime agricultural lands to ensure food security.
Agricultural land refers to land devoted to or suitable for the cultivation of the soil; planting of crops, growing of trees, raising of livestock, poultry, fish, or aquaculture production, including the harvesting of such farm products and other farm activities and practices. (PNA)