The Palawan Provincial Board has approved a resolution supporting House Bill 675 which seeks to declare 7,000 hectares of land in Rizal municipality as alienable and disposable for residents occupying them in five barangays.
The bill was re-filed in the Lower House by Rep. Cyrille Abueg Zaldivar (2nd District, Palawan) on July 1, 2019, hoping to give the opportunity for the residents of Barangays Bunog, Iraan, Punta Baja, Campung Ulay, and Ransang “to perfect their rights of possession over land areas they currently occupy”.
Board Member Ryan Maminta, author of the resolution, said the proposed law will benefit residents of Rizal who have been occupying lands for a long time but still have no titles to possess them.
“Maganda ito, a total of 7,000 hectares so it will really affect ‘yong status ng lupa doon, i-dentify naman nila ang mga forest lands doon,” he said.
Former deputy speaker Frederick Abueg previously filed the bill in the 16th and 17th congresses. During the 17th congress, it was numbered as House Bill 3932 that was approved on third reading on November 27, 2017, while the Senate of the Philippines received the same on November 29, 2017. However, the bill was not acted upon.
“Matagal lang siya kasi pang-18th Congress na ngayon. Noong 17th Congress ay na-approve siya sa House pero malapit na ang election noong time na ‘yon kaya walang nangyari. Hopefully, ngayon, fresh siya nai-file ulit and we have three years, mahaba-haba ang time kaya sana maging okay na,” he said.
Under the bill, the land will be converted into alienable and disposable which will be opened for distribution for residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and others to be productive.
The total area will be divided into seven blocks and as proposed, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary shall issue the necessary implementing orders, rules, regulations and circulars to implement the provisions of the Act.
Abueg said in her explanatory note that the inhabitants and occupants of the barangays are unable to secure titles over the public lands where they have been living, working and cultivating for decades.
“By converting or reclassifying certain portions of timberland to alienable and disposable land, while at the same time sub-classifying other portions of forestlands for specific purposes, this bill aims to increase agricultural, commercial, residential and tourism land areas available for disposition to the local populace. [This] also contributes to economic growth in general and ensure the proper conservation and management of the public lands,” Abueg said.