Benguet town nixes PMA expansion


TUBA, Benguet — The Municipal Council passed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte not to approve the recommendation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu for the issuance of a Presidential Proclamation reserving an additional area of 106 hectares over a parcel of land for the training ground of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Barangay Camp 6.

In February this year, Cimatu revealed that PMA wanted to expand the present 374,000 hectare area proclaimed as military reservation by another 105 hectares. Cimatu said the academy has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a proclamation regarding the matter.

In Resolution No. 60-2018, copy of which was obtained on Tuesday, provides that “the local government of Tuba was not informed and consulted about the proposed issuance of Presidential Proclamation reserving an area of 105.9018 hectares for the multipurpose training ground and other military facilities of PMA in Tuba.”

It further stated that the delineation and recognition process for Tuba Ancestral Domain is pending before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The local council also anchored its resolution on the provision of Section 2 of the Local Government Code, which provides that “it is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and peoples organizations and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions.”

The council aslo cited Section 27 of the same law, which states that, “no project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations are conducted and prior approval of the Sanggunian concerned is obtained,” and that “that occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”

The council resolution stated further that “there are also ancestral land claimants over the lot which is the subject matter of the proposed Presidential Proclamation, hence, there is also a need to address the issues raised by the claimants (Ibaloys) before its issuance.

“It’s just proper that PMA should first seek permission from the host municipality,” said Councilor Tita Bugtong, Committee on Indigenous Peoples.

Last month, a similar resolution was passed by the Benguet Provincial Board urging Malacañang to hold action on a proposed proclamation that would allow the country’s premier military institution in Baguio City to annex a portion of Tuba town.

Earlier, Cimatu relayed that in the letter to the President, the academy said that granting the PMA the additional land would “assure the academy of a secure water source and help protect the area from intrusions, encroachments and other forms of adverse claims.”

Cimatu earlier added that the expansion area is outside a property being claimed by an IP family that has been operating small-scale mining.