Davao City, November 17, 2021 – The Regional Land Use Committee (RLUC) XI convened for its 4th quarter CY 2021 meeting on November 17, 2021 via Zoom. During the meeting, Engr. Ivy Mercado of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office XI (DA RFO XI) presented to the committee the joint report arising from DA RFO XI’s meeting with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) XI, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) XI, and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) XI due to the increasing incidence of shifting from rice production to banana plantation in Davao Region, which among others, may affect the rice sufficiency of Davao Region.
Engr. Mercado reported to RLUC XI that Davao Region has a rice productivity of only 4.54 MT/ha and rice sufficiency of 53%, stating that the region still relies on rice imports to sustain its basic needs. The report identified that this is caused by the expansion of banana plantation areas and the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses. Based on the data provided by NIA XI, the serviced area of banana plantation increased from 8,809.45 hectares in 2017 to 10,495.76 hectares in 2020. DA XI also reported that the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses increased from 13.01 hectares in 2016 to 45.30 hectares in 2020. With this, the concerned agencies recommended that Local Government Units (LGUs) review and implement their thrust on food security and include crop zoning in the Agricultural Zones of their Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs). It was also recommended to fast-track the passage of the National Land Use Act. The RLUC XI Secretariat also recommended that the DA XI should intensify its support services and technical assistance programs to rice farmers.
Mr. Marcelino M. Barquin, from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI also reported the issues on overlapping jurisdictions of DENR, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Land Registration Authority (LRA). Mr. Barquin stated that DENR faces challenges in asserting its legal mandate, which is in conflict with the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), mainly the issuance and renewal of DENR-granted tenurial instruments for occupants and exercising its authority over forestland within the Ancestral Domain. With this, DENR XI is recommending to create a single control map that delineates the boundaries of ancestral domains and lands in the Region, to revisit existing DAR-DENR-LRA-NCIP Joint Administrative Orders and to reconsider classification of forestlands within the Ancestral Domain. Director Joseph Orilla of DAR XI affirmed the recommendations of DENR.
However, Atty. Ronnie Bulotano of NCIP XI expressed the agency’s opposition on the DENR XI’s position paper, mainly on the recommendation to reclassify forestlands within the Ancestral Domain as this is in conflict with IPRA provisions. Atty. Bulotano stated that Ancestral Domain Lands are not public domain lands but are under private community ownership of the indigenous cultural communities. On the challenges of DENR in issuing tenurial instruments for occupants within the Ancestral Domain, Atty. Bulotano expressed that indigenous cultural communities have the right to share from the benefits from the utilization and development of natural resources within Ancestral Domains, which should undergo the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process.
Given the concerns raised, the Committee agreed to create a composite team that would prepare a single control map that delineates the boundaries of ancestral domains and lands in the Region, to create a Technical Working Group to revisit the existing DAR-DENR-LRA-NCIP Joint Administrative Orders, and for the Davao City LGU to revisit its Forest Land Use Map.
Pamela N. Yparraguirre, NEDA XI
Photos by NEDA XI