Sunday, March 23, 2014

FM continues to shrink, is now down to half of original size

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija – This military reservation, home of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, continues to shrink in size and is now down to almost one-half of its original size owing to the issuance of various presidential proclamations and the intrusion of thousands of informal settlers.
          Brig. Gen. Vic Castro, acting 7th ID commanding general, told a press briefing that the reservation is now down to 45,837 hectares from a high of 73,000 when it was first established pursuant to Presidential Decree 237 on December 19,1955.
          Castro said they are now looking into various ways and means to somehow recover and retain its land area amid the different proclamations, claims and other issues confronting the military reservation.
          “We are now looking into the different proclamations, directives and reviewing them. Of course there are areas we can no longer recover. And we refer other claims to the Office of the SolGen (Solicitor General),” he said.
          He said their goal at present is to be able to undertake maximum utilization of the areas spanning the reservation amid the various claims and counter-claims.
          Captain Robert Reyes, division adjutant, said some other areas have already been segregated as settlement for victims of the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions involving 3,100 hectares in a sitio in the municipality of Laur.
          “These 3,100 hectares are now the subject of a review and we need further study,” he said.
          Reyes said that the situation is worsened by the proliferation of informal settlers. He said they are proposing for two relocation sites to house the informal settlers who have grown to 15,000 individuals.
          The presence of these informal settlers have been setting back efforts to fully develop the reservation.
          Castro said that they are planning to turn portions of the reservation into a vast area for agriculture production, including 3,000 hectares for bamboo plantation.
A proposed land use plan also intends to set up a logistics center, an economic and industrial zone, eco-tourism area, reforestation area, a plantation area for fruit-bearing and non-fruit bearing trees, a livestock and vegetable area and 240 hectares for the proposed transfer of the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa to this camp.
Also being eyed is the construction of a hangar/warehouse for stockpiling of relief goods and other rescue support.
The proposed site for the NBP is in Barangay Nazareth, Gen. Tinio town.
On April 10,2013, then-commanding general and now Northern Luzon (Nolcom) commanding general, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang and Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu surveyed three possible sites for the NBP, two in Nazareth and one in Canantong, Laur.
“These are just proposals at this point but we intend to pursue them if we can,” Castro said. – Manny Galvez

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