The government’s Inter-Agency Task Force that once “burned the night lamp” if only to solve land disputes in Rizal town, Kalinga has been revived with the mission of rooting out the problem so that there will be no repeat of the June 25 carnage between “settlers” and policemen.
BY ACE ALEGRE
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 26, August 5-11, 2007
TABUK, KALINGA – The government’s Inter-Agency Task Force that once “burned the night lamp” if only to solve land disputes in Rizal town, Kalinga has been revived with the mission of rooting out the problem so that there will be no repeat of the June 25 carnage between “settlers” and policemen.
Led by Kalinga Gov. Floydelia Diasen, the inter-agency task force was reorganized composed now of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Kalinga and Rizal town government units, and the military.
The reorganized Task Force, Diasen said, wants “to manifest the government’s enduring commitment and indomitable support to the people of Rizal, Kalinga.”
Nine “settlers” who tried to stand their ground against a local government-instituted demolition died on June 25. Ten policemen were also seriously hurt.
Janet Zamudio of the Inter-Agency Task Force said that the June 25 demolition was in fact already the third violent demolition since the 54-year old land conflict started at the ten Hacienda Madrigal estates in Barangay (village) Malapiat and nearby barangays.
Zamudio added that the DAR, DENR and NCIP will continue to facilitate their land titling operation in Rizal invoking strictly inter-agency guidelines on the disposition of lands set when the interagency first set foot in 2004.
The Inter-Agency Task Force momentarily stopped its activities in 2005 after their work seemed to have resolved the conflict there, but the June 25, 2007 carnage brought them back. Zamudio said.
On July 12, the first meeting of the newly re-organized task force, the group also asked the Kalinga provincial government to request the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to deploy a military unit in Malapiat “to act as peace keeping force and as security for the Task Force personnel in their land titling operations.”
The task force also requested Diasen to issue a directive to all mayors of Kalinga advising their constituents to refrain from buying lots or lands at the former Madrigal estate and all alienable and disposable lands in Rizal.
Former Rizal Mayor Marcelo dela Cruz, father of present Mayor Chris Mark, had linked several unscrupulous individuals who deceived some Kalinga natives into “buying” lands in the town that were already titled.
In one of the resolutions of the Task Force last July 12, it stated that “the conflict is being aggravated by individual buying and selling of parcels of lands at the former Hacienda Madrigal without verifying the legal papers of the lands.”
Diasen has also organized the Task Force Malapiat Investigation Team and Task Force Malapiat Negotiation Team through Executive Order 2007 -03.
The Investigation Team is tasked to determine why the settlers put up arms against the law enforcers; investigate the existence of settlers in the area; probe whether or not there was proper implementation of the Municipal Ordinance No. 2005-005 of Rizal, Kalinga; determine why settlers are maintaining firearms in their houses; and to perform other functions deemed necessary to solve the case.
The EO states that the team is mandated to submit its report and recommendations within 15 days from the issuance for appropriate action by the provincial government.
The Investigation Team is composed of lawyer Francis Calsiyao from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) as chairman, with lawyer Randy Bulwayan from the Provincial Legal Office as co-chairman and Fernando Cosidon from the National Police Commission (Napolcom) as vice chairman.
Members are Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Francis Gamatero, Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Director Severino Cruz; 21st Infantry Battalion,Philippine Army commanding officer Francis Lardizabal; Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) Committee Chairman on Peace and Order Board Member Efraim Orodio, and representatives from the Rizal local government units, DAR, NCIP, DENR, Regional Trial Court Branch 25, Kainga-Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and media.
The Negotiation Team, on the other hand, is tasked to focus and facilitate the negotiation between the people and tribes affected in the incident purposely for the maintenance of peace and order while the investigation is on-going. Contributed to Bulatlat