ITOGON, Benguet – Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan underscored that only eighteen percent of the province’s land area is alienable and disposable, thus, most of the people living in the various communities are considered squatters in their own lands and this must be corrected with the appropriate legislation.
Palangdan claimed that in Itogon alone, only 3 percent of the town’s over 60,000-hectare land are is alienable and disposable while there are few multinational corporations and moneyed individuals who secured titles covering hundreds of hectares of land in some areas of the municipality which is ironic because the indigenous peoples (IP) who had been living in these areas over the past several decades had been deprived of their land tenurial instruments.
He pointed out that the best way to solve this serious problem, not only in the different parts of the province but also in other areas around the region, is for the legislation of appropriate measures that will reclassify the lands as to use to strike a balance in the actual use and in the efforts of the government to preserve and protect the state of the environment.
The municipal chief executive claimed that by reclassifying the lands as to actual use, people already occupying declared watersheds, forest reservations, timberlands and even mining claims of private mining companies, will have the chance to own the lands that they already occupy without compromising the state of the environment.
According to him, people are aware of the obligation to preserve and protect the environment and it is important for them to be provided the opportunity of owning the lands that they currently occupy with the appropriate land tenurial instruments indicating their possession of the same instead of remaining as squatters in their own lands.
The mayor stipulated that the actual use of most of the lands in the region are already totally different from their existing declared use that is why it is best for concerned government agencies to work out the timely reclassification of lands in the different parts of the country to conform with their actual use to avoid the unnecessary eviction of people from the occupied areas.
Mayor Palangdan asserted there is nothing wrong in the move to reclassify the lands as to use and award the alienable and disposable areas to the qualified home lot occupants with the appropriate land tenurial instruments indicating their ownership of their properties.
He revealed that most of the lands in the province are within declared reservations but such declarations are no longer appropriate because of the expansion of communities due to the migration of people to areas with potential economic activities.
Palangdan expressed hope that lawmakers will support his cause in striking a balance between countryside development and the efforts to preserve and protect the state of the environment.