"GMA has no say on CMU lands"

 "There is no way GMA can take land from CMU. The titling of CMU's land is a closed issue," Alcordo, third president of the university said.


Alcordo spoke to fellow members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association Bukidnon Chapter on January 18.


CMU has challenged the proclamation in court and the case is now at the Supreme Court, according to Gideon Cabahug, one of the officials close to CMU officer in charge Rodrigo Malunhao, in a text message to MindaNews Monday.    


Alcordo told UP alumni any legal mind would say CMU's reservation is "untouchable".


The President could not take away a titled land on the mere basis of a presidential proclamation, he said, adding [the titling process of the reservation] was completed during his term, in 1974.


"Unless they go to Congress and have them amend the title of this reservation," he told MindaNews Sunday.


"Even Marcos refrained from touching the CMU reservation because he recognized the need for education of the youth," he said.


Arroyo signed on January 7, 2003 Presidential Proclamation 310 establishing a reservation for the use and settlement of the members of the Manobo-Talaandig tribe in Musuan.

The proclamation delineates 670 hectares from CMU's 3,080 hectares of land under Proclamation 476 issued on January 16, 1958 by President Carlos Garcia.


In asserting their claim, the Lumads recounted that they had been peacefully occupying the land until they were displaced during World War II when the Japanese used it as a military base. After the war, they returned to the area to start their lives anew, only to learn that it had been included in the proposed site of the National Agricultural High School, which became the present-day CMU.


MindaNews reported in 2004 that despite the Lumad's opposition, the land was surveyed in 1952 and made part of the university's property.


Then came President Garcia's proclamation reserving the lands for CMU.


The late CMU president Mardonio Lao told MindaNews in 2004 that the Bureau of Lands conducted a cadastral survey from 1962 to 1972 to identify legitimate claimants to the reservation before the university was issued certificates of title.


In a public hearing held by the House Committee on Agrarian Reform in Maramag on March 26, 2000, Lao cited the certificates of titles as CMU's basis for opposing the ancestral domain claims. Lao argued that the lumads' claims were considered before the titles were issued, as MindaNews reported in October 2004.


Aside from the Lumads, three groups of farmers have claimed 881 hectares inside the university. These are the Bukidnon Free Farmers and Agri-Laborers Organization or Buffalo, Tried Agricultural Movers Association of Rural Active Workers or Tamaraw, and Landtiller Inhabitants of Musuan or Limus.


In 1988, the Department of Agrarian Reform awarded 400 hectares to Buffalo.


But the Court of Appeals reversed DAR's decision. The farmers went to the Supreme Court, which also nullified the decision and ordered the farmers to leave. The farmers, however, have remained despite repeated attempts by CMU to eject them.


During the same public hearing, Lao said the Board of Regents had offered employment to the Lumads and scholarships to their children. "The problem is education, not land," he stressed.


Malunhao promised the same privileges [for the lumads] in a recent interview with MindaNews.


CMU's annual budget had been slashed by P2 million, Lao said making it a must to generate revenues like developing lands being occupied by the Lumads and farmers.   

In 2004, NCIP provincial officer Ma. Shirlene Sario said that granting only a portion of the claim would vindicate the indigenous peoples who had suffered human rights violations in their struggle for land.


Sario showed documents dating back to 1971 and even earlier to prove that irregularities attended CMU's acquisition of the land. She said the Lumads could have established the legitimacy of their claim if not for the declaration of martial law in 1972. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)