SENATOR Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate environment and natural resources committee, said Friday his panel is seeking to complete the summary titling of public school lands within the year.

Escudero said the titling of lands would be done simultaneously with the conduct of geohazard mapping to determine if schools are prone to earthquakes and landslides.

“Our target is to finish the summary titling of school sites within a year. In the process, we also hope to ensure that these lands are not vulnerable to geologic hazards for the safety of our students,” the senator said.

As of 2015, the Department of Education (DepEd) owns a total of 48,740 school sites all over the country.

Of the figure, only 36,258 school sites have ownership or occupation documents under DepEd’s name.

Escudero’s committee recently approved Senate Bill 1730, which seeks to provide summary titling of real properties used as public school sites to ensure the government has legal ownership over these lands and to avoid potential property disputes.

The senator said that in most cases, public school sites are owned by local government units (LGUs) or are subject to long-term lease agreements with private individuals.

In some cases, parcels of lands were donated but lacked the proper legal documentation and support on the transfer of ownership.

“Public school sites have always been subjected to property disputes, frequent transfer of location, revocation of donations of lands where they are situated, and urban planning and development programs of the LGUs,” Escudero said.

“These legal disputes hinder the adequate education of our youth. It has negative impacts on the overall development of the nation in tapping and harnessing the talents of the Filipino youth, if schools, considered as their abode, are constantly threatened with legal disputes and uncertainties,” he added. (Sunnex)