BAGUIO CITY – An estimated 90 percent of the more or less 2,000 public schools region wide do not have titles or proclamations over the areas where the structures are built.
Engr. Francis Basali, chief of the planning and management division of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR), said despite combined efforts among education and environment officials to legitimize the ownership of the education department to the areas occupied by the schools, the agency is lagging behind in the titling of the school sites region wide because of various issues ranging from absence of pertinent documents, the schools are built in forest reservations and the school sites are subjected to private and ancestral claims.
“We are having a difficult time working out the reconstruction of the pertinent documents in order to legitimize the titling of the school sites in the name of the Department of Education,” Basali stressed.
Aside from the absence of documents such as the deed of sale or deed of donation over the school sites, the DENR-CAR official pointed out some of the problems they are encountering is the outright withdrawal of the deed of donation for the school sites by the heirs of the deceased donors for various reasons; encroachments of private individuals to the school sites, private and ancestral claims covering the school sites and the absence of clearances from the health department and public works department in terms of easement and road-right-of-way.
For example, Basali cited of their targeted 425 schools region wide which the agency was supposed to facilitate the issuance of titles this year alone, only 50 percent was achieved by the agency because of various challenges that confront them, especially in the documentation process.
He called on education officials and school principals of the different public elementary and secondary schools that do not have titles to work out the completion of the prescribed documentary requirements prior to their submission to the DENR so that the survey of the school sites can be fast tracked and completed on time.
On the other hand, Basali appealed to local officials to help mediate conflicts on encroachments, ownership and road-right-of-way to allow the speedy completion of the documents for the school sites in their respective areas of jurisdiction so that there will be a consolidated efforts to work out the titling of schools in the region.
Basali admitted the DENR-CAR is being prodded by higher authorities to fast track the titling of school sites in order to legitimize the ownership of the education department over the areas occupied by the school structures in order to prevent further conflicts in the future.
Engr. Pauito T. Moreno, DENR-CAR regional executive director, commended the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the titling of school sites amidst the very low accomplishment, saying that the challenges that continue to confront the titling of the school sites could be settled through constant consultations among stakeholders because it will be the present and future generations of Cordillerans who will benefit from the titling of the school sites.
Moreno cited government agencies and local governments must take advantage of the existing program of the national government to issue titles over school sites to prevent the areas from being encroached upon by informal settlers in the future. By Dexter A. See