BAGUIO CITY – The sites currently occupied by some twelve public elementary and secondary education institutions regionwide are scheduled for titling by the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) in order to legitimize their occupancy of forest, agriculture and ancestral lands.
Engr. Francis Basali, chief of the DENR-CAR’s planning division, said the names of the schools that are to be issued appropriate Proclamations for the sites that they currently occupy have yet to be released considering the on-going evaluation of their initial compliance to numerous requirements for the titling of schools.
“We were able to gain significant breakthrough in the evaluation of the documentary requirements of the 12 schools that is why they had been targeted for the completion of their titling this year,” Basali stressed.
Earlier, the DENR-CAR disclosed some 80 percent of the over 2,000 public elementary and secondary education institutions in the different parts of the Cordillera have yet to be issued titles because of the complicated problems being encountered by the agency in the processing of the needed proclamation of the school sites in order for the education department to seal ownership of the said school areas.
According to him, the twelve school sites were able to meet the minimum requirements for titling, such as the initial survey, availability of pertinent documents covering the occupied school sites, the road-right-of-way clearance from the public works department, the appropriate clearance from the health department among others.
Basali explained school sites in the Cordillera are uniquely situated because they are built over forest reservations, ancestral lands and even agricultural lands, thus, the documents required will be the Proclamations declaring the land area occupied by the schools within such lands for education purposes and school sites in order to legitimize their occupancy of such areas to prevent the schools from being branded as squatters.
The DENR-CAR official revealed among the existing problems of school sites that have not yet been issued titles are the absence of the donation documents for the properties donated by ancestral claimants, conflicts between the heirs of the donors and school officials as the heirs want to invalidate the donations made by their ancestors, road-right-of-way issues and the existing provisions of the Forestry Code of the Philippines that lands having an elevation of above 18 percent are considered part of the forest system and could not be titled.
Basali urged council of elders, local officials and heirs of donors to closely coordinate with the environment department in order to resolve existing conflicts in the titling of schools sites in their respective areas of jurisdiction so that all schools will be given the appropriate documents in order to prevent future conflicts in the future.
Basali said DENR-CAR officials are willing to extend the appropriate assistance to all schools needing their help in order to complete the overdue titling of the sites where the structures are situated in order to avoid land grabbing of existing school sites in the future, saying that utmost cooperation among the stakeholders is required to settle existing problems in the school sites. By Dexter A. See