Group seeks compromise on Mt Data reclassification
MANKAYAN, Benguet – The Lawyers for Farmers is looking into a possible win-win situation between vegetable farmers and the government, the administrator of the Mt. Data National Park.
Atty. Richard Kilaan, lead convenor of LFF said, for decades now, vegetable farmers are still considered squatters in the land they farm, despite the fact that they are the original settlers of the land.
He said farmers have been tilling these lands for long yet they could not own it.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2016 has rejected proposals to reclassify the Mt. Data National Park from its current status as a protected park.
The proposal to downgrade the park’s status was then recommended by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to separate the inhabited portions from the remaining woodland.
Mt. Data was declared as a national park by Proclamation 634 issued on Oct. 8, 1841.
The PAMB proposal, based on records was first discussed in the 2012 Asian Development Bank analysis of the country’s Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project.
“We will find a possible solution where our indigenous people farming these lands could get a chance to own these farm lands and have them titled under their names while they help protect the park and the remaining forest reserve as it will still be an integral park of the eco-system in farming,” Kilaan said. – Press release