“PSAU lands are CARP-exempted” – Cong. Mikey Arroyo

THE 508-HECTARE landholdings of the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU) in Magalang, Pampanga may be suitable for agrarian reform however is exempted from the coverage of the amended Republic Act No. 6657 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Law.

The memorandum created confusion on whether the recommendation approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 22, 2021 included and identified the PSAU landholdings for distribution to CARP beneficiaries.

To shed light on this urgent matter, Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal – Arroyo (2D-Pampanga) has filed House Resolution No. 1682— still pending in the House Committee on Agrarian Reform— to conduct inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 75, Series of 2019 in the province of Pampanga “directing all departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities of government to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified CARP beneficiaries and therefore review the process of identification, validation, segregation, transfer and distribution of all Government-Owned Lands (GOLs) suitable for agrarian reform.

Arroyo cited explicitly in his resolution the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Order, dated September 6, 2011, which categorically exempted the PSAU landholdings from the coverage of CARP: “Instructively, therefore, this office is not amiss to reiterate that under existing law “lands actually, directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for parks, wildlife, forest, reserve reforestation, fish sanctuaries and breeding grounds, watersheds and mangroves, national defense, school sites and campuses including experimental farm stations operated by public and private schools for educational purposes, seeds and seedlings research and pilot production centers, church sites and convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, sites and Islamic centers appurtenant thereto, communal burial grounds and cemeteries, penal colonies and penal farms actually worked by the inmates, government and private research and quarantine centers and all lands with 18 percent slope and over, except those already developed shall be exempted from the coverage of this Act.”

The DAR and the Department of Justice promulgated the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of EO No. 75 on May 31, 2019. The provincial DAR office has informed the PSAU that beginning February 26, 2021 and onwards, its DAR personnel will conduct an identification of actual occupants, tillers on said landholdings and requesting the PSAU Board of Regents to post the notice to continue the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) Process on PSAU-owned landholdings which are covered by TCT No. 045-2016003517 with an area of 310 hectares, more or less, and TCT No. 045-2015007300 with an area of 198 hectares, more or less, located at Barangay San Agustin, Magalang.

The PSAU responded to DAR Pampanga stating that the “requests for posting cannot be granted nor the conduct of an identification of actual occupants and tillers on the lands of PSAU cannot be allowed in view of the pending mediation proceedings before the Office of the Solicitor General pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 242 and Section 68 (1) of the Administrative Code of the Philippines between the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and DAR.

Under Section 1 of the Acquisition of Government-Owned Agricultural Lands (GOAL) it is stated that “subject to the limitations and conditions provided under applicable laws, rules, issuances, the DAR shall acquire all lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture, which are owned by the departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities of the government, and which are no longer actually directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired, for the purpose of eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries.”

Under Section 2 in the General Mandate of Republic Act No. 10605 (An Act Converting the Pampanga Agricultural College in the Municipality of Magalang, Province of Pampanga, into a State University to be known as the Pampanga State Agricultural University), states that, “The PSAU shall primarily provide advance education, higher technological, professional instruction and training in the fields of agriculture, arts and sciences, teacher education, industrial technology and engineering, information technology, business management and accountancy, non-traditional courses, and other relevant fields of study. It shall also undertake research, extension services and production activities in support of the development of the province of Pampanga and provide progressive leadership in its areas of specialization.”

Further, Republic Act No. 11396 (An Act Requiring State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to Prepare and Implement a Land Use Development and Infrastructure Plan – LUDIP that shall Include the Construction of Dormitories for Students and Housing Sites for Employees) mandates the PSAU to prepare and implement a LUDIP and in compliance with the law, the PSAU, by virtue of Resolution No. 12, series of 2020, as approved by the PSAU Board of Regents, issued a 25-Year Master Development Plan. As contained in the approved PSAU MDP, the university is utilizing 210 hectares for Academic Core including Experimental Areas; 100 hectares for NICER Tamarind Project with the Department of Science and Technology; 10 hectares for Coconut Plantation Project with the Philippine Coconut Authority; three (3) hectares for Dairy Goat Project; 50 hectares for Coffee Plantation; five (5) hectares for Special Action Force Complex through its Deed of Usufruct; 10 hectares for Genebank Forestry Project including development of a 110 hectares of Bamboo Plantation / Agro-forestry, and 10 hectares for Mulberry Farm.

On that account, the total number of hectares to be used by PSAU as contained in the PSAU MDP is 508 hectares thus fully utilizing its available land for academic and related use. The entire area of the PSAU is classified as institutional based on the 2018 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of the Municipality of Magalang, hence the assigned land use is compatible with the function of the university.

In a similar manner, Republic Act No. 6657 (An Act Instituting a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to Promote Social Justice and Industrialization, Providing the Mechanism for its Implementation), as amended explicitly do not allow the disposition of lands owned and used by PSAU in favor of CARP beneficiaries, it states that, “lands actually directly and exclusively used and found necessary for…school sites and campuses, including experimental farm stations operated by public and private schools for educational purposes, seeds and seedlings research and pilot production centers.”

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