SouthCot officials want special body to study conflicting land tenurial instruments

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 October) — Environment officials in South Cotabato are pushing for the creation of a special body that will study and evaluate conflicting land tenurial instruments that were earlier issued by various national government agencies in the province.

Engr. Siegfred Flaviano, acting South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) chief, said Wednesday that they recommended to South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. the immediate establishment of a technical working group (TWG) that will harmonize and resolve the overlapping” tenurial instruments, especially those issued on declared protected areas.

He specifically cited the case of a portion of the protected areas in T’boli town that were earlier issued with certificates of ancestral domain title or CADT by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Portions of T’boli town’s upland areas are within the Allah Valley Protected Landscape, which covers a total of 102,350 hectares in four municipalities in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

The area is currently part of the National Integrated Protected Area System as provided for by Republic Act 7586.

“This problem is quite common here in the province, especially in remote upland areas, and it has been affecting the implementation of some of our environment-related programs and projects,” Flaviano said in a media forum in Koronadal City.

Based on a proposal he earlier submitted to Gov. Pingoy, Flaviano said the TWG will be composed of officials from the provincial government and agencies involved with the issuance of the conflicting tenurial instruments.

He said these agencies include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, DAR and the NCIP.

“(Gov. Pingoy) already endorsed the creation of the TWG and an executive order will be issued soon regarding the matter,” he said.

Flaviano said they pushed for the resolution of the conflicting issuances to allow the provincial government to pursue with the implementation of its priority programs, especially those involving the management of the lands and natural resources within the affected areas.

He was referring to the ongoing co-management programs for forestlands and watershed areas within the Allah Valley Protected Landscape that were being implemented by the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLADA),  an environment body jointly established by the local governments of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat that oversees the rehabilitation of the critical Allah River System and its environs.

Among its ongoing programs is the rehabilitation of Allah river’s watershed and headwaters that are situated in the mountains T’boli town. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)