12 landowners cited for illegal conversion: Public consultations now needed in land conversion
posted 27-Aug-2018  ·  
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At least 12 landowners who have been issued notices of illegal conversion by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) here will have to comply with a new ruling requiring the conduct of public consultations in cases of land use conversions.

This was stressed last week by DAR Catanduanes Provincial Agrarian Reform officer Alexander Teves following the issuance of Administrative Order No. 5, Series of 2018 by Secretary John Castriciones.

The new order requires the conduct of a public consultation to solicit public sentiments and ensure transparency in the approval or disapproval of certain applications for the conversion of lands from agricultural into other purposes.

“The conversion of agricultural lands may affect the public and the future generations of the Filipino people. Thus, the concerned Regional Director should call for a public consultation before acting on an application for land conversion,” the DAR chief stated.

He disclosed that the holding of public consultations are necessary to ensure that any interested person may be given the opportunity to present comments  or sentiments about the certain applications for land conversion.

“Such views, comments, or sentiments may be utilized as a guide in the processing of the application for conversion. However, the inputs derived from such public consultations do not necessarily bind or has no effect being the Secretary or the  Regional Director in the action on the pending application for land conversion,” he added.

Castriciones emphasized that the contents of notice of public consultations should include: the case title and name of applicant/developer and oppositor, the nature of conversion or project to be undertaken, the location, area and the title of the land, the name of the registered owner, the date, time and venue of the public consultation and the advice that any person may submit any written position paper regarding the application.

“The Notice of Public Consultation shall be in English or the local dialect in the area where the property is located. The Notice should be posted conspicuously at least ten days prior to the conduct of the public consultation in the barangay hall, municipal or city hall, DAR Provincial and Municipal Offices and other conspicuous areas where the property is located,” he added.

Castriciones disclosed that the Regional Land Use Conversion Committee (RLUCC) is responsible for applications for conversion falling within the jurisdiction of the Regional Director.  The Land Use Cases Division of the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (LUCD-BALA), on the other hand, is responsible for conversion applications falling within the jurisdiction of the Secretary.

Castriciones said that the proceedings of the public consultations shall be documented and recorded by video. There shall be a written record of the minutes of the public consultations. Both the video recording and the minutes shall be undertaken by the DAR Land Use Cases Division and the Public Assistance and Media Relations Service.  

According to PARO Teves, the provincial office has so far monitored 12 cases of illegal land use conversion in Catanduanes this past July 2018 alone, with the violations reported to the DAR regional office for issuance of Cease and Desist Order (CDO).

The pending cases include that of Vicente Qua Jr. in San Andres; Alex Laynes in Valencia, Virac; Jasper Peter Cua in San Andres; Bato Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez in Belmonte, San Andres; Sergio Taniegra in Baras; Victoria Oliman in Baras; Benson Cabrera in West Garden subdivision in Bigaa, Virac; Alfredo Posada in Baras; Merlinda Rodriguez in Batalay, Bato; Atty. Leo Mendoza in West Garden subdivision in Bigaa; and, Nelson Ang in Capilihan, Virac.

Agricultural land use conversion is the process of changing the use of agricultural land to non-agricultural land uses.

DAR Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2002 (2002 Comprehensive Rules on Land Use Conversion) specifically states that it is the responsibility of  the applicants to prove that they have complied with the legal substantive and procedural requirements, wherein public posting of billboards and notices in conspicuous places of the municipalities where the property is found is the sole procedural requirement which ensures that persons affected by the proposed land use conversion may file a protest. (With a report from DAR)


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