80-YEAR DREAM

Duterte proclamation sought by Camp Leonor settlers

Close to 300 households occupying portions of the Camp Leonor reservation in Barangay 38-A Poblacion are calling on President Duterte to amend a presidential proclamation that would allow them to own the areas they and their predecessors have been occupying since the 1920s.

“It is an 80-year dream we want realized in our lifetime,” said Robert Cepe, president of the Active and Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Landless Association, Inc.

On Thursday, the ARAFPLAI called on Presidential Commission on Urban Poor commissioner Norman B. Baloro and PCUP-Mindanao head Atty. Ferdinand Iman to ventilate their concern.

Presidential Proclamation No. 503 issued in 1939 has declared the area part of Camp Leonor reservation.

The ARAFPLAI occupies Lots 433, 457 and 458.

Cepe said Capt. Domingo Leonor, the first Filipino provincial commander of the camp, has allowed members of the defunct 83 Philippine Constabulary Company to build houses in the reservation in the 1920s. They were later joined by World War II veterans and other AFP officers and enlisted men.

The settlers, now members of association registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1979 petitioned President Marcos to award the lots to them without success.

The settlers rejoiced when President Arroyo issued an executive order in 202 that opened for disposition  for socialized housing  certain government lands, to include military reservations that have not been used for the purpose.

The passage of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 also mandated the same.

In 2004, then Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte recommended to Arroyo the revocation of Presidential Proclamation No. 503 by way of declaring open for disposition and a warding the lots to the actual occupants. This was not acted upon.

Atty. Ferdinand Iman, head of the PCUP in Mindanao, said the plight of the ARAFLAI association has been brought to the attention of concerned line and city government officials.

“So far there are no feedbacks but we are not losing hope,” he said.

The ARAFLAI association is accredited by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor.

Since the passage of the UDHA, a total of 39 presidential proclamations setting aside government land for the urban poor have been issued.

Stakeholders are hoping that with President Duterte’s program to curb poverty, the various petitions seeking presidential proclamations to set aside government land for the urban poor will be approved.