04/14/2009 [ tribune.net.ph ]
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza yesterday ordered the Land Management Bureau (LMB) to fast track the titling of lands occupied by public schools nationwide.
“The establishment of a firm legal basis of ownership of our public school sites is very important in the national effort to improve our public educational system,” Atienza said.
In July 2007, the DENR and the Department of Education (DepEd) forged a memorandum of agreement to speed up the processing and issuance of presidential proclamations for 5,132 school sites nationwide.
The agreement, according to Atienza, was prompted by a study by DepEd that about 8,000 sites nationwide have been continuously occupied for decades by public elementary and secondary schools without appropriate land titles.
Atienza said he found it ironic that some of the school sites are only covered by deeds of donations. According to him, the situation makes the schools “vulnerable to encroachment, illegal occupation or adverse claims of ownership by private entities.”
LMB Director Gerino Tolentino Jr. said that under the DENR-DepEd agreement, 16 school sites have already been issued with presidential proclamations by President Gloria Arroyo, and 31 more are under process.
Tolentino also said that the lands bureau is currently preparing the presidential proclamations for 31 more school sites. These include three schools sites in CAR, two school sites in Region I, seven in Region III, one in Region VI, two in Region VII, one in Region VIII, nine in Region X, four in Region XI, and two in Region XIII.