By Artemio A. Dumlao
Tuba, Benguet–The environment department is blaming a Marcos decree on why townsfolk in at least six towns of La Union are still landless. These residents could only avail of the government’s Handog Titulo (Gift of Title) program if and when Presidential Proclamation 1754 known as “Reserving a Strip of Land along Marcos Highway from Agoo, La Union to Baguio City for Watershed and Forest Reserve Purposes” would be repealed.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) bared that under this proclamation, lands covering 16,956 hectares in La Union were placed under forest and watershed reservation, where a greater part or 10,234 hectares are inhabited or alienable and disposable.
Other areas covered by the Proclamation lie at the province of Benguet. Some are part of Baguio City.
The DENR held a dialogue with Congressman Eufranio Eriguel of second district of La Union, Vice Mayors and Sangguniang Bayan members of Rosario, Sto. Tomas, Aringay, Agoo, Pugo and Tubao.
Abner Villanueva of the DENR-Cordillera said thousands of residents of Agoo, Tubao, Rosario, Pugo, Sto Tomas and Aringay and even parts of Benguet, could not apply or avail of the Free Patent program of the DENR because their lands were placed under the land classification of forest and watershed areas as specified in Presidential Proclamation No. 1754 which was issued by then Pres. Ferdinand E Marcos on June 22, 1978.
Hence, residents can not avail or apply for free patent for their farm lots or residential areas.
Long ago, local government officials of the six towns had clamored to revert their lands to its former status as A and D as per Land Classification of 1932 issued/approved on August of 1940.
The DENR’s Land Evaluation Party is now conducting an assessment of the delineated forest land boundaries covering the areas under PP 1754.
The Joint team of Land Management Field Network Survey, LEP-FMS and the CENRO La Union Survey team begun their delineation activities of forestlands since the earlier part of 2004, in compliance with DENR Administrative Order No. 2000-24.
The final maps of these areas could be vital for the resolutions of various LGUs and aid a legislation being pushed by newcomer Congressman Franny Eriguel in Congress. His bill seeks to repeal Presidential Proclamation No. 1754. It is one of his priority legislations, to give residents the security of tenure over their farmlots as well as their residential areas through the Handog Titulo Program.
Even the public areas such as municipal halls, schools sites, plazas, and markets could be released to the municipalities/schools through special patents as specified under Republic Act No. 10023 known as the New Residential Free Patent Act which was approved last May 2, 2010.
These programs of the DENR- Land Management Bureau is one of the anti-poverty programs of the government that would alleviate the living condition of the Filipinos, enhance peace and order, and would stimulate economic activity. Their land titles could serve as bank collaterals for their family’s education and investment for livelihood. (Bulatlat.com)