Year 2021 is a great start for the Busuangeño farmers of Palawan province, as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), is set to distribute around eighty (80) hectares of agricultural lands to 102 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), provide free agrarian legal counsel, orientation on ARB organizing support services and conduct Serbisyong DAR-to-door activities on January 21-22, 2021.
The activity, dubbed as “Pag-anDAR sa BPR: Serbisyong may Puso, Aarangkada sa Pag- asenso ang mga Busuangeño”, is a two-day event implementing DAR’s mandate of land tenure improvement, provision of necessary support services, and provision of legal services to ARBs, small-holder farmers, and other farmworkers.
DAR Secretary Brother John Castriciones said the lands to be distributed are government-owned lands (GOLs), including the Busuanga Pasture Reserve (BPR), also known as Yulo King Ranch (YKR), which would be put into good use as it would benefit the farmer-beneficiaries of the department.
“For many years, our farmers in this town are asking for the distribution of these lands. BPR is a good case in point, as it is a huge agricultural land that was placed under the management of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Forest Management Bureau (FMB). With President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of Executive Order (EO) No. 75, Series of 2019, on February 1, 2019, the DAR has quickly facilitated the process of subjecting this land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),” Brother John said.
The DAR chief explained that assigning DAR as the lead agency that provides central direction and coordination for the implementation of the said executive order, is a manifestation of the government’s desire to provide the landless farmers with their own lands to till.
“Our activity anchors with the state policy of promoting land reform towards a sound agricultural development, promote agro-industrialization, and peace and order in the countryside,” Brother John added.
The free agrarian legal counsel would be handled by the top caliber lawyers of the DAR to help Busuanga farmers with their agrarian legal issues, while the orientation on ARB- organizing support services would be conducted by the department’s Program Beneficiaries Development Division.
The Serbisyong DAR-to Door activity is one of the major highlights of the two-day activity, where identified CARP beneficiaries would personally receive their land titles from Brother John directly on their farmlands or right at the doorsteps of their homes.
Brother John said the event in Busuanga is reflective of the government’s effort in bringing the essential services to the people to promote equitable distribution of land and provide support services to increase productivity and income and promote peace and order in the countryside.
PCAARRD, PCIEERD, and NRCP discuss DOST’s Laguna de Bay R&D Program
Results of the research and development program (R&D) on Laguna de Bay were discussed in a roundtable discussion (RTD) on June 3, 2019 at the Acacia Hotel, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
The Councils of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), and National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) were joined by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) in the said RTD.
Led by its Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, the PCAARRD delegation included staff members from the Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division (IARRD), Socio-Economics Research Division (SERD), and Applied Communication Division (ACD).
According to Ebora, DOST has been involved in R&D on Laguna Lake since 1995 during the conduct of the “Integrated Action Program for the Rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay” monitored by the former Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD). He also emphasized the economic importance of Laguna de Bay in providing 60% of freshwater fish supply to Metro Manila.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, in his address, confirmed that DOST’s R&D activities on Laguna Lake started during the launch of the Basin Approach to Environmentally Sound Management of Water Resources: Laguna de Bay (renamed later to Integrated Action Program for the Rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay) in 1995. Water quality and resource allocation enhancement were some of the outputs in that particular initiative. The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the main beneficiary of the rehabilitation program, managed to allocate the lake’s water resources for sustainable development. In addition, issues and policy gaps identified towards enhanced lake management and its consequent development were also achieved after the completion of the R&D Program.
The work of the Councils of DOST on Laguna Lake were discussed. The National Research Council of the Philippines of DOST (DOST-NRCP) came up with a policy brief based on the result of a study focusing on the detection of an emerging estrogenic pollutant. Meanwhile, the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) funded the program, SCALE: Synergistic Capacity Advancement in the Management of Laguna Lake. Several researches were also conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and UP Diliman (UPD).
De la Peña said that the greater challenge now is how to maximize and use the results of these researches to define actions that the DOST would take considering the lake’s present status, existing issues and concerns, aquaculture activities, infrastructure projects, existing ordinances and policies, and social projects for all the lake stakeholders.
The RTD was divided into three sessions: 1) PCAARRD-funded Laguna de Bay Aquaculture Projects; 2) PCIEERD’s Water Quality Monitoring Projects implemented by the University of the Philippines Diliman; and 3) B3asic R&D researches funded by NRCP, which included Evaluation of Feral Fish Biomarkers for Monitoring of Estrogen Pollution in Laguna de Bay by Dr. Michelle Grace V. Paraso of UPLB.
The activity was a convergence of efforts not only by DOST but also of other government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LLDA, and other local government units (LGUs). It aimed to update the status of Laguna de Bay, identify issues and concerns; enumerate the activities in the different parts of the lake (East, West and Central bays); determine the existing policies in each part of the lake; and identify plans/projects of DOST as a major player in the lake rehabilitation.
The activity was attended by a total of 38 participants from DOST, PCAARRD, PCIEERD, NRCP, LLDA, NAST, UPD, and UPLB (Shirley T. Gahon, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).
MARDI Director General, YBhg. Datuk Dr. Mohamad Roff bin Mohd Noor Visits PCAARRD
Officials from the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), headed by YBhg. Datuk Dr. Mohamad Roff bin Mohd Noor, Director General (DG), visited the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) on June 26, 2019.
MARDI is a statutory body under the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry conducting research in agriculture, food, and agro-based industries.
Along with Dr. Mohamad Roff are Mr. Mohd Rashid bin Rabu, Director, Governance & Legal Centre; Ms. Nur Aida Mohd Padzil, International Networking Programme, Corporate Communication Centre; and Mrs. Datin Rahmah Hussin, wife of Dr. Roff.
The visit was to formalize the ceremonial signing of the PCAARRD-MARDI Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as well as to discuss its work plan of cooperation from 2019 to 2024. To maximize the visit, the MARDI team also visited other agriculture-related agencies in Los Baños including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology (UPLB-BIOTECH), and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). They also conducted a benchmarking mission on coconut at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) – Region IVA in Lucena City.
The PCAARRD Directors’ Council (DC) members and representatives, led by its Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, welcomed Dr. Mohamad Roff and other delegates from MARDI. They were toured at the S&T Promotion Hub of the DOST-PCAARRD Innovation and Technology Center (DPITC) and the Seeds and Seedlings Plaza SciCAT Farm Tourism Site, which is a project of PCAARRD with Bureau of Plant Industry-Los Baños National Crop Research, Development and Production Support Center (BPI-LBNCRDPSC).
Technologies and innovations generated from R&D projects implemented by PCAARRD’s partners in the AANR sector were showcased during the tour. A formal welcome, briefing, and MOU signing ceremony followed after.
Dr. Ebora briefly shared the partnership history of PCAARRD and MARDI, which started in 1975 when a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in Kuala Lumpur by the former Philippine Council for Agricultural Research (PCAR), through its Executive Director, Dr. Joseph C. Madamba; and MARDI, through its DG, Dr. Tan Sri Datuk Hai Mohamad bin Jamil.
He also shared the Philippines’ long history of partnership and collaboration with other Malayan states, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, prior to the birth of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Dr. Ebora assured MARDI’s DG of PCAARRD’s continued support and active cooperation in implementing programs/projects under the MOU.
As a response, Dr. Mohamad Roff shared his excitement to be in the Philippines and in Los Baños as it is his first time to visit the country. He is confident that their visit will be very productive, particularly the discussion regarding the work plan of cooperation for 2019-2024, which is the first step in implementing the MOU.
Both PCAARRD and MARDI committed to work together to achieve the goal on growth and development of agricultural R&D in science and technology (Cyrill S. Estimado, Katrina Kae S. Principe, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).