THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) has started to survey lands in preparation for free distribution of land titles in conflict-affected towns in Maguindanao.
DENR-Armm Secretary Kahal Kedtag said the P42-million "free land titling and survey" project was formally launched on January 5 in Rajah Buayan, one of the 15 towns that will benefit from the project.
Kedtag said the distribution of land titles is aimed to help fight poverty and stimulate progress and development in the province.
The project is under the region's Humanitarian Development and Assistance Program (HDAP), which is aimed at demarcating properties of landowners in the region.
HDAP is a project of the regional government under the administration of Armm Governor Mujiv Hataman. It aims to implement various government initiatives, specifically relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of both horizontal, in reference to school buildings, houses, and health centers, and vertical in reference to roads and bridges.
The project also covers livelihood programs that will promote peace and help the situation in calamity-affected communities specifically in 15 Maguindanao towns.
Kedtag said the distribution of free land titles is one of the priorities of the regional government to help lessen conflicts in Maguindanao, many of which are fueled by land disputes.
"Land dispute hinders development. This project will provide bigger opportunities for our people," Rajah Buayan Mayor Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan said.
"This is the peoples' hope for a fully secured land ownership," Ampatuan added, noting this is quite important for his municipality, which is reliant on farming.
Kedtag said they aim to completely distribute 4,500 hectares of land to target villages in the 15 target municipalities of Maguindanao.
Kedtag said the project gained support from local government officials and their constituents.
In 2016, the region granted a total of 1,800 hectares of lands to residents of the conflict-torn towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin, Mamasapano, and Salibo. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)