Senate approves conversion of forest into alienable land in Surigao

October 15, 2012 10:32 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 15 — The Senate approved Monday on third and final reading a measure converting three parcels of timberland in Surigao City into an alienable and disposable land.

Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, chairman of the committee on environment and natural resources and sponsor of House Bill 1719, said the enactment of the proposed legislation into law will enable the government to distribute the three parcels of land to local residents already occupying the area.

“These parcels of land, with an aggregate area of 649.3466 hectares are currently classified as forest land or timberland but the area is actually being utilized either for residential, commercial, industrial or governmental usage. There is no existing forest land,” Escudero said.

He said houses, buildings and concrete roads had already been constructed in the parcels of land, showing evidence of years of residence in the areas.

“Since the land is classified as timberland, it cannot be properly disposed. Residents cannot own lots so there is no security of tenure for them. That is why the land has to be converted into alienable and disposable land first before it can be disposed,” Escudero explained.

“This will legitimize the claims of the local residents, whose families have in the area for the last 30 years,” he added.

Representatives Francisco Matugas and Guillermo Romarate, Jr. who introduced HB 1719, said timberland will be retained in 20-meter strips of land on both sides along rivers and creeks for the protection of the stream bank. They said the strips of land will be planted with trees by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the city government of Surigao. (PNA)



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