PHL secures P18.5-B loan from WB to process individual farm titling

THE Philippines secured the World Bank’s approval for a $370-million (around P18.5 billion) loan for a project that would award individual titles to farmers covered by the collective land ownership awards (CLOAs) previously issued to agrarian reform beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

In a statement, the World Bank said around 750,000 people are expected to gain improved land tenure security and stable property rights through the project it calls “Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling” or Split.

According to the lender of last resort,  Split will facilitate land titles for over 1.3 million hectares of land that was granted as part of Carp. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the lead implementing agency of Carp, was designated project head.

“Many farmers who were granted lands under the country’s agrarian reform program have been waiting for individual titles, sometimes for decades,” Achim Fock, World Bank acting country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, was quoted in the statement as saying.

“This project will provide them the opportunity, on a voluntary basis, to get legal proof and the security of individual land rights,” Fock added. “We expect that this will encourage them to invest in their property and adopt better technologies for greater productivity and higher incomes.”

He explained that improved land tenure security would contribute to poverty reduction and rural economic growth and strengthen farmers’ resilience against impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to the economic slowdown, subsistence farmers are at significant risk of falling deeper into poverty,” Fock said. “Many of them lack social security, savings, and access to formal financing. With individual land titles, beneficiaries will have greater access to credit and financing, as well as government assistance.”

In the past three decades, the Philippine government through Carp distributed 4.8 million hectares “16 percent of the nation’s land” to almost 3 million beneficiaries. Approximately 53 percent of the land distributed was in the form of individual titles. Especially in the 1990s, the government issued mostly CLOAs to speed up land distribution, with the intention of subdividing and titling them individually at a future time.

Recently, the Philippine government has embarked on a renewed push for individual titling to hasten transformation in rural areas.

The Split Project will support the government’s ongoing efforts for parcelization and individual titling through the adoption of improved technologies and digital platforms, improvements in regulations, streamlining of procedures in the titling process and enhanced consultations with beneficiaries, the World Bank said.

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