By ROCAYA SUMNDAD OTICAL
CEBU CITY – A portion of Camp Keithley, a military reservation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, will be distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“They have waited long enough. This land is part of their ancestral domain. It should be returned to them. Let us do our best to distribute these lands to them this March,” said Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Bernie Cruz at the agency’s 2021 year-end assessment and 2022 direction setting held here.
Cruz said the distribution of idle government-owned lands (GOLs) like in Marawi is a top priority in accordance with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive under Executive Order No. 75, series of 2019.
“The President believes that there were historical injustices inflicted against the Bangsamoro people, jeopardizing their legitimate birthright over their ancestral lands. And it is just right to indemnify them by distributing all government-owned lands to the rightful claimant to correct the historical offenses,” Cruz said.
Cruz instructed the DAR Field Operations Office and its Northern Mindanao regional office to immediately complete the survey activities on Camp Keithley in Marawi City, identify those who will be affected, and distribute the lands to the identified agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the area.
DAR-Northern Mindanao regional director Zoraida Macadindang in her progress report said the DAR has been working very hard amid the threat of the pandemic. Issues in the coverage of Camp Keithley military reservation are also being resolved including the resistance of the potential ARBs/applicants in Barangay Alinun, Saguiaran to conduct the survey and delay in the conduct of subdivision survey due to the absence of potential ARBs/applicants at the time of the survey.
“But in spite of all these challenges, we are now 70 percent done with identifying the landholdings for distribution, perimeter surveying, procurement activities and validation, documentation, and approval of subdivision plans,” Macadindang said.
“We can now start distributing lands this coming March starting with around 200 hectares and will follow it up with succeeding land distributions in the next months as we finish up working on the rest of the military reservation,” she added.
In October 2021, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana turned over the deed of transfer of a portion of government-owned Camp Keithley military reservation to the DAR.
Under the CARP, the military reservation will be distributed to identified Marawi farmers.
This military reservation is composed of 6,667 hectares and based on Executive Order 75 and after the initial survey of DAR, 4,000 hectares of land will be distributed to the qualified beneficiaries in Marawi, Marantao, Piagapo, and Saguiaran towns in Lanao del Sur.
Camp Keithley is a former military base of the United States of America that was built during the start of the Philippine-American War in the early part of the 20th century. By virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 453 of former President Elpidio Quirino, the 6,667-hectare area was converted into a military reserve on December 23, 1953. (PR)