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250 landless farmers get titles



CALBAYOG CITY — At least 250 farmers here got a huge boost as the parcels of farmlands owned by the government will be distributed among them, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas.

The agency recently distributed agricultural land titles covering 9,240.35 hectares to 250 qualified beneficiaries from different barangays under the agency’s Handog Titulo program.

“The land title in your hands is the absolute proof that you are now the rightful owner of the lands that you possess,” DENR regional director Tirso P. Parian Jr. said.

Many of the new landowners inherited the right to till the land from their parents but without the security of ownership, like in the case of 78-year-old Juanito Pallones from Tinambacan village.

“I am truly thankful to God and to the DENR for having this kind of program that is actually beneficial to us,” Pallones said.

Handog Titulo is a program of DENR aimed to expedite the processing and issuance of public land patents to qualified recipients to alleviate poverty, and fuel progress and development.

Under the program, free patent is given to Filipinos who occupied untitled land for at least 10 years provided that the land applied for is alienable and disposable.

The land rights group Katarungan-Eastern Visayas estimated that around 70 percent of land in Samar island remains untitled.

During the recovery phase of typhoon “Yolanda,” the absence of land titles proved to be a hindrance in rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the calamity as the government and some aid agencies require proof of land ownership before a family can get assistance.