/ 22 October 2021

SENATOR Imee Marcos slammed the Department of Agrarian Reform for approving only 33 scholarship grants out of thousands of applications from children of land reform beneficiaries.

“Mas maraming nabigo kaysa natuwa, ngayon pa namang nagmahal ang edukasyon dahil sa pandemya,” Marcos said on Thursday, which marks the 50th year since Presidential Decree 27 launched the country’s land reform program.

Marcos noted that only P2.357 million was spent for scholarship grants, even as P800 million DAR funds remain parked in the controversial Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management.

“There’s a lack of vision and dedication here, when DAR scrimps on benefits for those they are supposed to serve while the Commission on Audit flags the parking of P800 million in unliquidated funds in PS-DBM,” Marcos said.

To solve the shortfall, Marcos urged the DAR to increase its funding for scholarship grants in its proposed budget for 2022, saying that at present the scholarship funding is less than one percent of the P400 million allotted for a similar program for coconut farmers.

Marcos added that the DAR can improve its accomplishment record in distributing land to more farmers if it will give more attention to areas less problematic than the Bicol, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas regions.

“We’ve had the longest land reform program on earth! Besides awarding farmers the land they till, education for their children will give the goal of land reform a truly happy ending,” Marcos said.