Secretary Bernie Cruz of the Department of Agrarian Reform on Friday ordered the agency’s field operations in Northern Mindanao to immediately complete the survey activities at Camp Keithley in Marawi City, identify those to be affected, and distribute the lands to the identified farmer-beneficiaries in the area.
“The distribution of idle government-owned lands is a top priority following the issuance by President Rodrigo Duterte of Executive Order No. 75, series of 2019,” he said.
Camp Keithley is the jumpstart activity of the agency to immediately distribute the area to qualified farmers under EO No. 75.
It is a former United States military base built during the start of the Philippine-American War in the early part of the 20th century.
On Dec. 23, 1953, the late President Elpidio Quirino, by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 453, converted the 6,667-hectare area, now renamed Camp Amai Pakpak, into a military reserve.
Zoraida Macadindang, Northern Mindanao regional director, in her progress report, identified the issues on the coverage of Camp Keithley military reservation, including the resistance of the potential agrarian reform beneficiaries of applicants in Barangay Alinun, Saguiaran on the conduct of the survey, and delay in the conduct of subdivision survey due to absence of potential beneficiaries or applicants at the time of the survey.
DAR in Marawi cancelled a “pulong-pulong” in Poblacion Ilian, Piagapo due to a family feud in the area, she lamented.
Moreover, most of the applicants were occupying residential areas, while others still had no agricultural lands in their possession.
“As per survey contract, the contractor is required to conduct survey activities on agricultural lands with hectarage as a parameter costing. But there are residential lots subject for subdivision. Thus, the conduct of residential lots survey will entail higher cost and adverse claimants are not known by the local government units concerned,” Macadindang said.
She said there is a need for DAR to coordinate with the Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense for security assistance and local government units, and to intensify the information dissemination relative to the schedule of survey and conduct actual validation of applicants or potential ARBs during the scheduled survey.
EO 75 directs all government instrumentalities to identify lands owned by the government devoted or suitable for agricultural purposes for distribution to identified qualified beneficiaries.