Friday, February 17, 2012

News Update BCDA raps DAR officers for titling Bataan land

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) yesterday accused some “officers” of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of illegally placing under the agrarian reform program at least 192 hectares of BCDA land in Morong, Bataan and issuing titles over them to “questionable farmer-beneficiaries.”
BCDA chairman Felicito Payumo, who hails from Bataan, said he has asked the DAR’s provincial agrarian reform adjudicator’s office based in Dinalupihan town to annul the agrarian reform coverage in the area.
“I also asked DAR to immediately cancel the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) issued in 2008 covering the area,” he said.
BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova reported to the provincial agrarian reform adjudicator’s office the “irregular, erroneous, illegal, and anomalous” titling of the BCDA-owned land.
In a letter, Casanova named the 67 purported farmer-beneficiaries. He also furnished copies of his letter to the Bataan provincial agrarian reform officer and the register of deeds.
Payumo said the farmer-beneficiaries listed in DAR documents were alleged to be Morong residents, adding though he was not familiar with any of them.
He said an initial inquiry indicated that a “big-time land-grabbing syndicate” was involved in the scheme.
Payumo said the questioned BCDA land, located in Barangays Sabang and Binaritan in Morong town, used to be the site of the defunct Philippine Refugee Processing Center complex and now serves as the site of the Bataan Technology Park, a technology and eco-tourism park run by the Bataan Technology Park Inc., a BCDA subsidiary.
The BCDA land consists of six huge lots. Payumo recalled that in March 1997, then President Fidel Ramos issued Proclamation No. 984 creating the Morong Special Economic Zone and transferring the tracts of land to the BCDA.
In May 2004, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Special Patent No. 3642 granting and conveying the same landholding to the BCDA.
Casanova said this meant that the land in dispute was “beyond and outside the authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, much more of the (DAR), to dispose of.”
Casanova recalled that the DAR, then under Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, saw the property differently.
“As shown in the fraudulent CLOAs we have just uncovered, the DAR had declared the land as agricultural land,” he said. - By Ding Cervantes