CMU blocks land survey for Manobos

Malaybalay-based radio station DXDB reported on May 7 that university security guards prevented the composite team composed of technical people from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the agrarian reform and environment and natural resources departments from conducting the survey.

Maria Shirlene Sario, NCIP Bukidnon provincial officer, confirmed to MindaNews on May 9 the tension in the recent encounter.

The scene, DXDB described, had CMU officials with university security guards on one side and the composite team, escorted by Maramag town police and the 1004th Provincial Police Mobile Group on the other.

A joint DENR, NCIP and DAR order on April 28 tasked two composite teams to conduct the delineation survey starting on May 2 for the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 310.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the proclamation in January 2003 establishing a 670-hectare reservation for the use and settlement of the Manobos and other lumads from the property reserved for CMU since 1958.

But CMU has since taken a legal course to defy the proclamation. It has appealed the proclamation at the Regional Trial Court and then at the Court of Appeals.

The appellate court has reportedly dismissed the motion for reconsideration CMU filed to contest the ruling, based on a copy of the March 14, 2008 decision obtained from NCIP Bukidnon.

Sario said the university no longer has any legal basis to block the survey even if she clarified that it is the NCIP regional office in Cagayan de Oro that has the authority to speak on the matter.

MindaNews has yet to interview CMU president Mardonio Lao for comments on this new development even as during an earlier interview, Lao said the university is exercising corporate duties over its properties reserved for academic purposes. Lao vowed to keep intact CMU's at least 3,000 hectares reserved for academic purposes in Musuan, Maramag town in southern Bukidnon.
Lao reportedly met with the survey team at his office on May 6 where they presented their purpose of visit — to implement the executive order.

CMU security guards were reported to have blocked the surveying team in Kisanday area, part of the property subject for survey, a day after the meeting.

Lao has reportedly demanded a court order and in its absence disallowed the conduct of the survey.

CMU, formerly the Mindanao Agricultural College, was created under Presidential Proclamation No. 476 on January 16, 1958.

Cesar Apao, spokesperson to the governor, told Central Mindanao Newswatch on May 8 that the composite team went to see Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. on the issue after meeting Lao.

He said the governor's position is to give the land to the lumads.

Lao and CHED regional director Eloisa Paderanga, however, did not sign the April 28 joint special order creating the composite survey team.

A copy of the order was sent to Malacañang, Zubiri and the NCIP national office. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)