By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
SAN FRANCISCO,Agusan del Sur— At 83, Dolzura Exchaure will finally get her individual land title in the second week of next month after an arduous 34 years of waiting .
She and more than a thousand former farmworkers of a big oil palm plantation here and neighboring Rosario town were identified as agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the landholdings of their former employer and were granted collective land titles in December 13, 1988 by then president Corazon Aquino.
The ARB lands are former plantation areas of the NDC-Gurthrie Plantations Inc. (NGPI). The ARBs organized themselves into NGPI Multi-Purpose Cooperative but splintered into five cooperatives due to infighting in the rental of palm oil lands still maintained by the company until 2013.
The NGPI voluntarily turned over the management of the plantation to the cooperative in November 2013 because the latter continued to demand higher rentals for the land.
On Wednesday, Dolzura and 148 others belonging to Maligaya ARB Cooperative (MAARBCO) were the first batch of ARBs whose more than 400 hectares of palm oil plantation areas were drawn by a raffle the respective individual surveyed lots with an avaerage area from 2.8 hectares to 1.9 hectares.
Jamil Amatonding, Jr. Director IV and concurrent Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II in Agusan del Sur, said the MAARBCO members and four other splintered ARB cooperatives were supposed to given individual Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) before the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte ends in June 30 but did not pushed through due to the delay in the release of funds.
He said to make the assignment of lots for ARBs to be fair, they decided to a process of drawn by lot by four raffle drums.
The individual titling is part of the Support for Parcelization of Individual Titles (SPLIT) project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
The project aims to distribute to individual beneficiaries to some 1.38 million hectares in the country. The DAR project is funded by P24 billion government loan from the World Bank.
“I am thankful to DAR for realizing our dreams to come true,” said Metodio Abalayan, chairman of MAARBCO.
He said he and the original farmworkers who were identified in issuance of collective CLOAs in 1988 were awarded with at least 2.8 hectares each while the new ARBs listed after the DAR validation to more areas covered by ARB lands will have 1.9 hectares each.
Edilberto Bayotlang, 69, former gardener at the mansion for British managers of the plantation, said he is happy that the land he finally own will be inherited to his three grown up children.
A total of 3,150 hectares of the oil palm plantation areas would be distributed to 1,143 ARBs in the form of CLOAs.