Photo: Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Joh Castriciones (DAR)
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is currently extending help and support to thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) through its project called "The PaSSOver: ARBOld Move to Heal as One Deliverance of our ARBs from the COVID 19 Pandemic" where the agency has allotted P300 million budget to implement the project.
DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones said the P300 million budget will be sourced out from the reprogrammed and realigned budget of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Sustainability Program (ARBDSP) and unobligated allotment from the different units of the DAR Support Services Office (SSO).
Castriciones said the project was created in response to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act 11469, where the President Rodrigo Duterte directed all government agencies to provide, protect and promote the welfare of the people in these times of the pandemic.
"This project intends to provide immediate and essential support services to men and women agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to mitigate the impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures due to the pandemic and to address the demands affecting the agricultural sector even after the ECQ has been lifted or upon the start of the 'new normal,' " Castriciones noted.
Castriciones said that he has directed SSO Undersecretary Emily O. Padilla to craft guidelines for the implementation of the said project.
Padilla said the guidelines has been cascaded to the regional and provincial implementors.
"We have incorporated in the guidelines activities and measures that will be undertaken to ensure the successful completion of the project," Padilla said.
Padilla said the ARBOld Move project will provide enabling mechanisms for the ARBs, individually and collectively, to continue performing their roles as frontliners in ensuring food sufficiency in the country.
"We are assisting the farmers in the distribution and delivery of agri-commodities by issuing quarantine accreditation passes so they could pass through checkpoints easily, especially in critical areas under ECQ," Padilla said.
As of April 24, a total of 629 quarantine accreditation passes has been distributed to ARBs and agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs).
The ARBOs will also be provided with farm inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides, and farm tools to enable them to resume planting crops for continuous food supply on their tables as well as for public consumption. It will cover 7,000 hectares nationwide with 90,839 individual ARBs to benefit from the project.
ARB identification cards (ARB IDs) are also being issued and distributed under the ARBOld Move. Padilla said the IDs are being given to identify ARBs to facilitate their access to the government's social amelioration programs (SAPs).
As of April 24, a total of 77,119 ARB IDs have been distributed by the DAR.
The project will also extend its support to 1,200 women ARBs nationwide by providing them with livelihood activities, especially in food production such as egg and poultry production, hog fattening, and similar activities based on their preferences and capabilities to ensure they have food on their tables and products to sell.
Priority assistance will also be given to women with special circumstances such as single parents, widows, senior citizens, head of households, persons with disabilities, and group of indigenous peoples, who undertake farming activities but lost their source of income because of the ECQ.
"This will bolster the role of women in mitigating the impact of the pandemic in the households," Padilla said.
Padilla said the project will also provide packages containing supplemental food, hygiene products and vitamins to ARB households. Each package will contain 4 kilos of rice, 4 canned sardines, 4 packs instant noodles, 2 pieces bath soap, 10 pieces face masks and a bottle of 50 pieces vitamin C.
A total of 126,565 qualified ARBs will benefit from these packages.
"Helping our ARBs will ensure that their agricultural production, livelihood and income will continue during this health crisis. It will also ensure sustained supply of adequate, affordable and safe food necessary for Filipino consumers even upon the 'new normal' will be implemented,"Padilla noted.