Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vizcaya town claims ownership of 7,000 has. of lands in NE, triggers

PANTABANGAN, Nueva Ecija – A cadastral survey purportedly establishing ownership by a municipality of Nueva Vizcaya of some 7,000 hectares of lands in this adjacent town in Nueva Ecija has sparked a controversy between the two local government units, prompting Gov. Aurelio Umali to ask the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to investigate the territorial claims, which could drastically reduce the land area of the province and its share in the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the national government.

          In a November 12 letter to SP presiding officer, Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos and the provincial board members,  Umali expressed concern over the claims of the municipal government of Alfonso Castañeda that the 7,000-hectare area in this town fall within its boundaries as reflected in a cadastral survey conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 2.

          The DENR, represented by its regional executive director Benjamin Tumaliuan, entered into a cadastral survey contract with the  Santa Cruz Surveying Office (SCSO) based in Naguilian, Isabela to undertake the survey on all parcels of lands in Alfonso Castañeda.

          Earlier, Pantabangan assistant municipal assessor Francisco Pineda informed Umali that the survey of SCSO caused the territorial boundary of this town to shrink by 7,000 hectares.

          Worse, Umali said, the areas claimed by Castañeda include lands where the American proponent of the giant Casecnan Dam are located where the Nueva Ecija provincial government collects huge real property taxes.

          “Considering the undeniable deleterious impact of this cadastral survey to the province of Nueva Ecija, that this issue be made the subject of your legislative inquiry pursuant to Section 118 (c) of the Local Government Code,” Umali said in his letter to the SP.

          Mayor Lucio Uera, in an October 21 letter to Umali complained that the municipality of Castañeda has been illegally encroaching in the town as shown by the cadastral survey unilaterally conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 2.

          The Sangguniang Bayan of this town, led by Vice Mayor Ruben Huerta and 10 municipal councilors passed a resolution registering strong opposition to the cadastral survey conducted by SCSO.

          The SB, in its resolution, found the acts executed by the DENR Region 2 office as contrary to law because representatives of this town were not formally notified in writing by Region 2 about the survey and thus, it was done unilaterally.

          It added that during the time the survey was conducted, no  representative from the DENR in Region 3 was present either.

The cadastral survey, there being a boundary dispute between the two municipalities, should be conducted only if it is made jointly by the two local governments and supervised by the survey divisions of the DENR in the two regions, the resolution said.

The SB resolution stressed that since the survey takes a huge part of Barangay Marikit and sitio Pauan, Barangay Villarica, the illegal encroachment would greatly affect the IRA shares of Pantabangan in particular and Nueva Ecija in general due to the reduction in land area and population.

The SB has asked the SP to also institute appropriate action against those responsible for the survey. (Manny Galvez)             

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